State Department terror warning casts shadow over Thanksgiving travel

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Falling gas prices make travelers grateful this Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

An estimated 46.9 million Americans are expected to take a car, plane, bus or train at least 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend, according to the motoring organization AAA. Oil continues to sell for cheap on international trading markets, just over $40 a barrel Tuesday morning, a glut of oil in reserves and low demand during the fall is driving prices down. “Motorists are saving around $11 for a full tank of gas compared to this time last year,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group, in a statement. “That gives travelers more money to spend on lodging, shopping and dining out.Thanksgiving road-trippers will find gasoline at its cheapest level since the 2008 financial crisis, as prices at the pump accelerate their decline just in time for the holidays.

This year 3.6 million Americans will travel via plane for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA, but Airlines for America, the lobbying group for several major airlines, forecasts 25.3 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines.All major transportation sectors – airlines, trains, buses and automobiles – are projecting an uptick in holiday travel, as unemployment falls and gasoline prices plummet to the lowest levels in seven years. That would be an increase of more than 300,000 people over last year, and the most travelers since 2007. “There’s a little bit of a tie-up here, but I’m sure once we get going, things will be great,” Mark Sullivan said as he waited at New York’s Port Authority bus terminal. For those on the fence about taking a trip, these low gas prices could be all the incentive one needs to hit the road.” Prices in Central Florida have been hovering just above $2 a barrel since mid-September, when Middle Eastern countries started a price battle to drive fracking drillers in North America out of business. AAA’s forecast shows fewer numbers of fliers because it looks at a five-day period while the airline group looks at the 12 days surrounding Thanksgiving.

Of course those gas stations near Orlando International Airport are still keeping prices stubbornly high, with Suncoast Energys selling for $5.95 a gallon for regular unleaded. Either way, if you’re among them, here are some graphics drawn up by AirHelp, a company devoted to helping travelers get compensation for delayed or cancelled fights, about what some travelers can expect for air travel this week based on data from years past.

The Massachusetts Port Authority, operator of Boston’s Logan International Airport, says airlines have increased the number of available seats for passengers leaving the city to 580,000, up 7.6 percent from the same 11-day holiday travel period last year. The worst airports (Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport took the top spot) to travel out of, based on percentage of delays during Thanksgiving week. Though there have been no changes to the nation’s terror alert status, the recent attacks in Paris, West Africa and elsewhere prompted the State Department to warn American travelers about the risks overseas.

The heaviest travel days at Logan are expected Tuesday and Wednesday this week, as people strive to get home for Thursday’s traditional turkey dinners and family get-togethers. In Chicago, rain with a flood threat could cause flight delays due to visibility problems and cause slick roads for drivers, according to TODAY’s Al Roker. Ed Freni, director of aviation at Massport, attributed some of jump to the increased number of international carriers flying in and out of Logan for destinations such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing.

Denver is expected to get light snow and freezing drizzle by Thursday, and Dallas is forecast to receive heavy rains and gusty winds on Thanksgiving Day. AAA spokesman Michael Green said a national average of $1.99 a gallon or less this year is “practically guaranteed unless something dramatic was to happen.” A global glut has fueled a sharp selloff over the last 16 months. If you are traveling over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving via a car this year, AAA says you can expect about 42 million other Americans to be joining you on the road as well.

As for the weather, which can impact both air and ground travel, Accuweather reported that most of the country will not see any debilitating snow Monday through Wednesday, the most popular travel days ahead of the holiday. In other travel news, on Monday State Department issued a travel alert warning U.S. citizens of the potential for terrorist attacks with the alert lasting into late February. Energy Information Administration released data showing that U.S. crude inventories rose to 487.3 million barrels, the largest stockpile for this time of year since 1930. Analysts initially believed that gas would reach an average of $2 a gallon closer to Christmas, but persistently low crude prices changed their outlook. Many of those passengers will be college students heading home for the holiday and returning either Sunday or Monday, said Kimberly Haile, director of marketing at Peter Pan.

All told, about 1 million Massachusetts residents are projected to travel over the extended Thanksgiving weekend – 900,000 of them in cars, said Mary Maguire, a spokesman for AAA Northeast, an auto-service organization. Gas prices are dropping at the fastest level in three months,” Green said. “We’re entering a period where refinery production is on the rise, but overall, fuel demand is low due to seasonal factors.” At least half of all gas stations are already in the $2 club. The twice-monthly Lundberg Survey released on Sunday noted that pump prices should continue to retreat into December amid higher production rates at domestic refineries and plentiful oil supplies.

AAA Northeast reported on Monday that the average price of gasoline in both Massachusetts and across the country was $2.07, down from $2.87 in Massachusetts a year ago and down from $2.82 for the nation last year.

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