Amid a strong economy and solid consumer confidence, AAA expects Americans to get on the road and trek through airports over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the largest numbers in 12 years.
The auto club projects that nearly 51 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home during the five-day period from Wednesday through Sunday, with 89 percent driving. Almost 8 percent will fly.
Auto travel is expected to jump by 3.2 percent from last Thanksgiving and air travel by 5 percent. The overall increase is 3.3 percent.
AAA said travelers going by plane will pay the lowest average round-trip ticket price in five years for the top 40 domestic routes — $157.
But the daily car rental average charge of $70 is 34 percent higher than last year’s figure and the highest Thanksgiving weekend rate since 2013.
The auto club said the average price of hotels rated by AAA as three-diamond increased by 14 percent to $176 a night. However, the average rate for two-diamond hotels dropped 5 percent to $117.
Warm-weather locales dominate this year’s top 10 Thanksgiving holiday destinations based on bookings through AAA’s website, with Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif., atop the list.
The only typically colder spots on the list were third-place New York and San Francisco, the eighth-most popular.
The upsurge in travel by road is expected even though gasoline prices nationally are up over last year.
On Sunday, the national average price for regular was about $2.55 per gallon, an increase over $2.14 a year ago, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. The average price in Missouri was $2.35 per gallon, up from $1.90.
St. Louis Lambert International Airport also is forecasting robust Thanksgiving period usage.
The airport expects a 7 percent hike in departing passengers over the 10-day period between last Friday and next Sunday compared to 2016.
That amounts to about 175,500 people departing Lambert’s two terminals during the period, an increase of more than 12,000 over last year.
On Lambert’s peak days, Wednesday and next Sunday, more than 21,000 departing passengers and 23,400, respectively, are expected.
Airport officials also note that connecting traffic is on an upswing at Lambert, with 253,000 more such passengers so far this year over the same period in 2016. That’s a hike of 30 percent.