For the first time in six years AAA predicts that fewer Americans – about 41 million – will travel 50 miles or more over this Thanksgiving holiday compared with 2007.
The association forecasts that travel by plane would drop 7 percent and travel by car would decline 1 percent while train and bus travel would increase nearly 6 percent.
The projected decline in holiday travel this year is somewhat surprising considering that fuel prices have dropped recently. The Energy Information Administration reported on Monday, Nov. 24, that the national average for diesel is 78 cents per gallon lower than during this same week in 2007. And this holiday season, gas prices are at the lowest level since February 2005.
In 2007 Thanksgiving travel reached a record level even as fuel prices surged and airfares had their biggest one-month jump.
Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, told Bloomberg that the overall economic picture has deteriorated. The drop in holiday travel could be attributed to lower consumer confidence, rising unemployment, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s 41 percent drop in the past year.