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3/4ths of Americans Say Economy Affected Their Plans
TripAdvisor, an online travel community, reported Monday that 78 percent of Bay Area residents said their travel plans had been affected by the economic downturn. 76 percent of Americans overall said the same thing.
According to the Trip Advisor survey, 36 percent Bay Area residents planned to travel this weekend. That is compared to 37 percent of Americans overall.
Some other stats:
- 54 percent of Bay Area residents said they would travel by car and 43 percent said they would travel by airplane.
- 44 percent of Bay Area residents prefer turkey for Thanksgiving. Stuffing ranked second with 16 percent and mashed potatoes ranked third with only 10 percent, according to the Trip Advisor survey.
- 26 percent said that they feel pressure to travel and spend Thanksgiving with their families, while 61 percent said that seeing relatives/family makes travel worth it, according to the Trip Advisor survey.
- 15 percent of Bay Area residents plan to travel for “Black Friday” to go shopping, according to the Trip Advisor survey.
Trip Advisor claims to be one of the world's largest online travel communities, with more than 25 million unique visitors each month.
Bart Delays Reported
Bay Area Rapid Transit is reporting that trains traveling from Orinda to Bay Point are delayed by up to 20 minutes because of a train that was taken out of service.
The Pittsburg/Bay Point-bound train became disabled at the Orinda station shortly before 8 a.m. and passengers were told to exit.
One passenger reported smelling smoke and said a BART employee told him the train was having brake problems.
Passengers from that train have since been directed onto another train.
The disabled train has been removed from the station and trains are expected to be back on schedule shortly, a BART official said.
I-5 Shut Down For 2.5 Hours
CHP officials shut down one of the West Coast's most important interstates on one of the busiest travel days of the year because metal wires from power lines sagged into the roadway.
Interstate 5, perhaps the most relied-upon method for travel between Northern and Southern California, had been shut down just north of Harris Ranch, near Highways 145 and 198, west of the cities of Lemoore, Hanford and Visalia.
Officers reported 10 miles of traffic back up on the Northbound side. Southbound traffic was also described as bad, but not as bad as the northbound side.
CHP officers first received a report of metal wires across the road just before 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Officers opened the roadway at about 11 a.m.
Officers routed northbound traffic along Highway 145 to Colusa, westbound on Mt. Whitney, back to Highway 33 and I-5.
Southbound traffic was routed onto state route 145 before making it back to I-5 again.
Officers issued a Sig Alert by about 10 a.m. because of a very large volume of cars about the traffic situation.
Many Californians Skipping Big Trips this Year
Travelers breezed through airport terminals Wednesday and drivers cruised open roads, the effects of a sour economy blamed for keeping people closer to home at the start of the annual Thanksgiving rush.
Even though gas prices fell and airlines offered last-minute deals, many Americans appeared to be skipping trips this year. San Francisco resident Sharon McKellar called the Miami airport "shockingly quiet" after flying in overnight to visit family.
At Boston's Logan International Airport, Alicia Kelly, 47, traveling with her husband and two children to Miami to spend the holidays with her family, said it was the lightest Thanksgiving travel day she's ever seen. "We have waited in no lines so far," she said.
The FAA's flight delay Web site showed no significant holdups at major airports at midday Wednesday. Security lines moved along briskly at under 10 minutes at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport.
At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, travelers found parking spots in the front row of the lot and no wait for check-in and security. The Delta terminal was nearly empty.
"This is crazy. There's no one here. It's quieter than on most weekdays," said Ryan Sullivan, who was flying to New York with his wife and two kids.
While most trips were going smoothly, security was a concern in New York City after federal authorities warned law enforcement of a possible terror plot by al-Qaida against the city's subway and train systems during the holiday season, according to an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press. However, no changes were made to the nation's threat level.
Nationally, the Automobile Association of America says 41 million Americans were expected to travel over 50 miles for the holiday, down about 1.5 percent or 600,000 people from last Thanksgiving.
Of those, about 4.5 million are expected to fly, down about 7 percent from last year, while around 33.2 million drive, down about 1 percent.
"The economy is in such bad shape...They're still really hesitant to take that trip," said Beth Mosher, spokeswoman for AAA Chicago.
Even though airlines offered last-minute fares in an attempt to get more people in the air, it may take until after the first of the year to know if it worked, said Graeme Wallace, chief technical officer for farecompare.com, a consumer airline ticket research Web site.
"With the economy tanking, they're thinking, 'Do I want to spend $400 for a 1,200-mile trip?"' Wallace said.
Pierre Charles, a 36-year-old middle school math teacher in Miami Springs, Fla., said that in past years, he's gone to New York to visit his parents. Not this year.
"Traveling is not easy right now," he said. "This year, I'm staying home. Home, sweet home."
Still, some were undeterred. Carpenter Michael Layman, 59, left Tampa, Fla., early Tuesday to drive about 1,200 miles home to Clinton Township, Mich., for Thanksgiving with his wife, their two children and four grandchildren.
He moved to Florida three years ago because of better work opportunities than he could find in Michigan.
"I'm looking forward to being with my family. I wouldn't miss Thanksgiving and Christmas," Layman said after he stopped to sleep for a few hours in the back of his minivan at an Interstate 75 rest area about 30 miles north of Cincinnati.
He said he was pleased when gas prices began falling several weeks ago. Layman said he had been paying about $70 dollars to fill up and now pays less than half of that. "That felt pretty good," he said.
A steady stream of cars came in to fill up at a big Petro gas station near the I-75/I-40 interchange west of Knoxville, Tenn. James Bell, who said he is a wind expert for a window and door manufacturer in Smithville, Tenn., was driving about 10 hours to meet his three grown children at his sister's house in Dunkirk, Md. "Gas is cheap," he said.
Weather across most of the country was forecast to be clear, making it easier for those who did decide to travel.
But there were some problems, especially heavy rain that swept southern California. In San Diego, flooding forced the closure of northbound lanes of Interstate 5 for several hours Wednesday morning after at least two vehicles hydroplaned in a few feet of water and crashed. Elsewhere, parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York could see up to a half of a foot of lake-effect snow.
Even though Marvin and Kathy Boyd had money to buy air tickets, a last-minute delay proved costly. The couple, en route from Denver to Augusta, Ga., missed getting their bags checked in by two minutes at Denver International Airport.
Now they have to get another flight. They were waiting for Kathy Boyd's mother to deposit money in her bank account to pay for the switch.
"We have to pay the money to change and we don't have the money," said Kathy Boyd, 54.
Cutbacks didn't deter Donita Hill of Estero, Fla., who was traveling with her husband, Bob to spend Thanksgiving with their son, a resident at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The couple waited Wednesday to take a train to Worcester, Mass.
"I think sometimes when money is tight, you re-evaluate what's really important to you, and you realize that it's really family and friends," said Donita Hill.
"Maybe you cut back on the (holiday) gifts a little bit, or maybe you don't have as extravagant a Thanksgiving as you used to," she said. "Maybe you don't have a free-range bird as you've had in the past; maybe you go to a Butterball."
Associated Press Writers Suzette Laboy, Kelli Kennedy and Tamara Lush in Miami, Eileen Sullivan and Devlin Barrett in Washington, Dan Sewell in Cincinnati, Russell Contreras in Boston, Dorie Turner in Atlanta, Schuyler Dixon in Grapevine, Texas, Ivan Moreno in Denver, Dena Potter in Richmond, Va., Denise Lavoie in Boston, Kelli Kennedy in Miami and Ben Greene in Baltimore contributed to this report.