Jim Rink (313) 336-1513
An estimated 1.5 million Michiganians said they will travel during the 2006 Thanksgiving holiday period, says AAA Michigan. The vast majority of travelers in Michigan and surrounding Great Lakes states (91 percent) will stay with relatives – a significantly higher percentage than the rest of the nation.
Cars, trucks and vans represent the most popular form of Thanksgiving transportation (91 percent) – down 4 percentage points from 2005. Slightly more Great Lakes residents will travel by air this year compared to last (9 percent versus 5 percent).
In Michigan, motorists will find gas prices historically high, paying an average 5 cents more per gallon than last year at this time. The statewide average for self-serve regular (as of Nov. 14) is $2.275 per gallon – a record for the Thanksgiving holiday period.
“Airports and highways will be busier than ever,” said Claire Lockley, vice president - Travel for The Auto Club Group. “The cost of hotel rooms, rental cars and airfare has increased, but that will not prevent people from traveling.”
To help cope with heavier-than-normal traffic volumes and heightened airport security, AAA recommends that travelers allow plenty of extra time to reach their destination. Check-in requirements for commercial airlines can result in loss of reserved seating for travelers who do not arrive on time (contact each airline directly for check-in rules and regulations).
AAA recommends arriving at the airport at least two to three hours before scheduled departure times. Other travel tips:
- Confirm flight schedules. Check with your airline either online or through a toll-free number to confirm flight schedules one week prior to departure and the day before departure.
- Print your boarding pass at home. Many airlines provide e-ticket services that allow you to print your boarding pass at home, complete with seat assignments. If you are checking luggage, you will still have to wait in line. If you have carry-on luggage only, you may proceed directly to security check-in.
- Be aware of new 3-1-1 carry-on luggage requirements. The size and number of carry-on items may be limited. Hand-searches of checked and carry-on baggage may cause slowdowns at check-in and screening checkpoints. For carry-on requirements, visit www.tsa.gov.
- Expect heavy congestion in front of the terminals around curbfronts. Curbs will be reserved for active loading and unloading only. Drivers dropping off or picking up passengers will not be allowed to wait. Park in short-term parking and meet your party in the baggage claim area.
NOTE FOR METRO DETROIT TRAVELERS: The Wayne County Airport Authority has opened a cell-phone waiting lane near the Smith Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) to help alleviate vehicle congestion at the arrivals curb (see www.metroairport.com).
- All passengers are required to have photo identification at the ticket counter and checkpoints. This is true regardless of the type of ticket issued (paper or electronic).
- Wrap gifts AFTER you arrive at your destination. Security personnel may request that gifts be unwrapped at screening checkpoints.
- Stay calm in lines and during inspections. Don’t make jokes or take actions that may be construed as threatening.
- Consult airport Web sites for information on parking availability.
The 102-hour Thanksgiving Day holiday (6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26) is traditionally a time for family travel. But the holiday coincides with the firearm deer hunting season, which means hunters will take advantage of the long holiday weekend. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), during the 16-day firearm deer season (Nov. 15-30), about 725,000 hunters will spend more than $500 million for food, lodging and transportation.
A large deer herd, combined with large numbers of cars on the road, creates a high probability for collisions. In 2005, 58,741 deer-vehicle crashes were reported. Last year, nine motorists were killed and 1,700 were injured as a result of vehicle-deer crashes.
During the 2005 Thanksgiving holiday period, 19 persons died in 17 fatal crashes on Michigan roads, compared with 10 deaths in 2004. Restraints were used by 84 percent of the victims who had them available. Five, or 26 percent of the fatal crashes, were alcohol-related.
AAA Michigan urges all motorists to avoid alcohol, buckle up, be well rested, and drive defensively. For the latest Michigan traffic and construction reports, visit AAA.com/traffic