N.C. Thanksgiving travelers prefer road to air

Posted November 23, 2009

— More North Carolinians will travel this Thanksgiving than last year, and flying has become their least favorite means of transportation, according AAA Carolinas.

AAA estimates that 1,167,000 North Carolinians will travel more than 50 miles from home, an increase of 2.3 percent over 2008. Travel by automobile will be up 3.1 percent, and by train or bus up 2.8 percent, while travel by air will drop by 6.6 percent.

Those changes come even as gas prices have spiked in the past month, driving the statewide average cost of a gallon up to $2.53. That's 63 cents higher than last Thanksgiving.

"Thanksgiving is a family holiday, and after a year of economic turmoil, people want to get away," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "Gas prices have been creeping upward again, but it isn't enough to deter most people¹s vacation plans."

More people will be traveling by bus or train (107,000) than by plane (77,000).

This marks the third straight year air travel has declined. As causes, AAA cited new fees for baggage and other services, peak-fare surcharges, a reduction in the number of flights, use of planes with less capacity, and delays.

For drivers, state troopers started "Operation Slow Down" Monday to crack down on speeders on interstates and major four-lane highways across the state.

Transportation crews have been working to clear some highways damaged by natural disasters.

N.C. Highway 12, at Rodanthe in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, has been reopened. The remnants of Hurricane Ida flooded it earlier in November. From the Monday after Thanksgiving, traffic will be reduced to one lane for reconstruction work.

In the western part of the state, crews are still fixing up Interstate 40 after a rockslide in October. The interstate is still closed, and a nearly 140-mile detour, starting in Asheville, has been set up.

Travelers will find cloudy skies and wet weather. There's a shot at light rain or drizzle this work week, and Thanksgiving could see some stray showers.

"The clouds will be hanging around, and they're going to hang around for a while," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

"Finally, by Friday, the sun comes out – just in time for shopping," she said.


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  • unaffiliated_voter Nov 24, 2009

    I used to enjoy flying, but now it's my last choice for any trips I'm making. There are several reasons for that:

    1) I despise being assumed to be a terrorist until I can prove that I'm not. It's supposed to be the other way around in this country.

    2) I also hate add-on fees for necessary items. At least one checked bag should be included in the fare. How many people are going to fly anywhere without any luggage? Taking at least one bag is part of basic service and should be included in the fare. And if you won't let me bring my own water/soda/juice on the plane, then a beverage should be included also. Hydration is needed in that dry plane air.

    3) For anything less than about 350 miles, it's probably faster to drive.

    4) If more than one person is traveling, driving is cheaper, even if you have to stay overnight in a motel along the way.

    5) I kind of enjoy seeing the scenery along the way anyway.

  • raldude Nov 23, 2009

    I think I may be in the minority here. I think they make travel what it used to be. Raise the fares to what it costs to do business and not nickle and dime everyone. I do get great fares most of the time so paying for a bag is no big deal. Flying should be what is was at one time. If you can't afford it, either drive or stay at home. The public has demanded lower fares and now they must pay the real price of bag fees and.

  • smegma Nov 23, 2009

    yeah nobody flies anymore because it's so insanely expensive. gotta pay all those big executive salaries even though they always do a horrible job. gotta pay for their flashy lifestyle

  • wildcat Nov 23, 2009

    Well I sure hope they all will be safe and follow the rules of the road and enjoy the scenery.

  • Boot-the-DC-Tyrant Nov 23, 2009

    UMMMMM...could it be the big announcements of increasing fees during the holiday season!?? Hope the airline industry gets exactly what they deserve: nothing! But, they needn't worry, Obama will bail them out, courtesy of the remainder of the workforce's dollar!

  • WXYZ Nov 23, 2009

    Yes, the other glaring reason many (like myself, my family and many friends) have greatly reduced use commercial air transportation (especially before 9/2008 when the recession hit hard) is TSA. I have written letters apologizing to the airlines for not traveling more often and gave TSA's many abuses as my main reason. As far as I am concerned: "When TSA Goes, Then We Will Come".

    The airline industry is the US, is for-profit and it has been struggling to survive since 9/11. And, there have been times, when the threat of government take-over was very real. Given we are dealing with the worst recession in the past 75+ years, the airlines have had to make very unpleasant and unpopular cost cutting measures. But,our airline industry may still collapse.

    So send your complaints to the airlines, but also please send in your complaints about TSA.

  • redstarlean Nov 23, 2009

    The heck with the Airlines. This country need more high speed rail, Europe is far ahead of this mode of trasnport

  • kellyaustin96 Nov 23, 2009

    A lot of the problem with flying is the de-humanization of going through TSA security. That situation puts everyone in a foul mood. As for actual airline employees, it runs about 50 - 50 in a terminal if you are going to be treated cordially. I have had some excellent service from airline employees. On the other hand I have seen some airline employees that should never work with the public. Stewardesses? Don't get me started, low intellect combined with union mentality. It seems they try to be impolite as part of their job duty.

    Then you are at the mercy of the airline, if their late or having a problem you never get the full story. You the customer are the least important cog in the flying process. If I am going 500 miles or less, I take my car. It's quicker and a lot cheaper.

  • happymom Nov 23, 2009

    I don't fly anymore if I can absolutely help it. Between the high prices, ridiculous add-on fees, the endless security lines, the delays and the cramped seating, I'd rather drive my own vehicle.

    I realize the airlines are struggling, but they need to accept that the quality of the experience DOES matter.

  • ranquick Nov 23, 2009

    YThe airline are goingt o pice themselves tright out of bussiness, oh I forgot the white will not let that happen, we tyhe taxpayer will bale them out!