Monday, November 22, 1999

Holiday travel plans at record

33.8M people taking trip for Thanksgiving

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Miami University's Ride Board in the Shriver Center holds students Thanksgiving travel plans.
(Gary Landers photos)
| ZOOM |
        Plan on sharing that interstate or plane with more Thanksgiving holiday travelers than ever before.

        A record 33.8 million people are planning a trip 100 miles or more away from home this weekend, slightly more than the 33.6 million who took Thanksgiving trips last year, according to the American Au tomobile Association (AAA).

        About 82 percent of those travelers will be on the roads.

        Days to plan for long lines in airports and on interstate ramps: Wednesday and Sunday, with the largest number of people planning to travel Sunday.

        “But it's worth it,” said David Morganti, a freshman at Miami University who plans to drive to his hometown in suburban Pittsburgh and spend Thanksgiving with his family. “I have nowhere else to go for Thanksgiving. ... they kick us out of the dorms.”

        People driving for the holiday also will pay more for gas this year. Nationally, gas prices are up nearly 23 cents from last year, according to AAA.

        In Ohio, a gallon of regular, unleaded, self-serve gasoline this month costs $1.25; in Kentucky, $1.20 and in Indiana about $1.17 a gallon, according to AAA Cincinnati.

        And no matter what direction drivers are headed, police will be out in full force monitoring holiday traffic.

        In Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, police will be looking for speeders, drunk drivers and seat-belt violators. Thanksgiving was the deadliest holiday weekend on Ohio roads last year, with 22 people dying.

        “Be patient with the extra traffic out there and get there safely,” said Lt. Paul Hermes, with the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Batavia post.

        Kentucky will have checkpoints throughout the state this weekend to look for people who aren't buckled up. And Indiana will have an additional 275 troopers out on the roads, including troopers in unmarked cars.

        If it's not too late to change plans, leaving Tuesday and returning Monday could make driving less irritating, said Amy Frede, spokeswoman for AAA Cincinnati.

        And there's even hope for people who still haven't purchased airline tickets.

        About 143,000 travelers are expected to pass through the Delta Air Lines terminal at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport between Tuesday and Sunday. Flights are about 85 percent full Sunday, Delta spokesman Dave Anderson said.

        But people willing to travel on Thanksgiving Day or Friday can still get seats. And traditionally, discount fares on those seats are extended, Mr. Anderson said.

        Travelers with airline tickets for Wednesday and Sunday, though, should plan on getting to the airport about 90 minutes to 120 minutes before their flight.

        “If you thought last year was busy, it will be even busier this year,” said Joe Feiertag, an airport spokesman. “Local traffic, people who park here and check bags here, is up 11 percent this year.”

        In addition to the sheer number of people trying to catch flights, the holiday weekend means people will likely be checking more bags and more of them will be unfamiliar with the airport process.


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