Holiday travel plans for the Southland

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LA and OC holiday travel forecast from The Auto Club

LA and OC holiday travel forecast from The Auto Club. (AP image)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – About 3.37 million Southland residents are expected to take vacations over the Thanksgiving holiday, roughly the same as 2011, but they plan to spend less money than last year, the Automobile Club of Southern California said today.

“Thanksgiving holiday travel is continuing to bounce back from the recession years of 2008 and 2009,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel. “This year’s projected number of Southern California travelers is on track to be slightly higher than the 10-year average number of Thanksgiving travelers from 2002 through 2011, which is 3.34 million.”

The top five destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of the Auto Club’s AAA Travel agents, are Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, California’s Central Coast and the Grand Canyon.

About 87 percent of travelers, or 2.93 million, are expected to go by car, an 0.5 percent increase over 2011, while 341,000 are projected to fly, 1.8 percent fewer than last year, according to an AAA statement, which said 105,000 are anticipated to go by other means.

More than 1.792 million passengers — an 0.3 percent increase over last year — are expected to pass through Los Angeles International Airport over the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, which begins today and ends Nov. 26, airport officials estimate.

LAX is expected to be second only to Chicago-O’Hare International Airport in passenger volume. Passengers should anticipate heavy traffic at the airport and in the terminals and domestic flights that are about 90 percent full or completely full on routes to such popular destinations as San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York and Boston, airport officials said.

Volunteers wearing red vests will be roaming LAX terminals to assist travelers on the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday, in addition to regular volunteers and customer service representatives.

Airport officials recommended that passengers arrive at LAX two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights.

John Wayne Airport urged passengers and visitors to give themselves 90 minutes to two hours to find parking, check their luggage and go through security checkpoints. Construction alerts and other travel trips are available at

The projected number of Southland travelers represents an increase of six-tenths of 1 percent over last year’s 3.35 million local travelers.

But IHS Global Insight, which conducts travel research for the AAA, found that this year’s holiday travelers are planning to spend less on their trips than in 2011, the AAA statement said, adding that they will cut back on lodging and, slightly, on dining out and sightseeing.

Statewide, 5.43 million travelers are expected to be on the move this weekend, an increase of less than 1 percent over last year. About 4.71 million of them are expected to drive to their holiday destinations while 549,000 are projected to fly and 169,000 are anticipated to go by bus, RV, train or cruise ship.

Nationally, 43.56 million people are expected to travel over the holiday, an increase of seven-tenths of 1 percent from last year. Ninety percent, or 39.1 million, are expected to drive to their destinations, and 3.1 million are projected to fly.

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