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AAA predicts millions of New Englanders will travel for Thanksgiving this year

But gas prices may change the way people travel

BRANFORD, Conn. — The pandemic pushed many people to stay home for Thanksgiving last holiday season. This time around, AAA is predicting more than two million New Englanders will be hitting the roads for the holiday. 

That's less than the record-high reached before the pandemic, but still more than last year. 

"As usual, the great majority of those travelers, 87%, will be driving to their holiday destinations," said Tracy Noble the Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA in a press release. "That's the second highest number since AAA has been keeping record and up almost 9% over last year."

In 2020, it was COVID-19 that kept many people away from traveling. But in the most recent AAA survey, those concerns are not as prevalent. 

"Only 8% feel traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday poses a ‘significant’ risk for COVID. This in contrast to a similar poll last year where more than 40% felt holiday travel posed ‘significant’ risk for COVID," Noble said.

RELATED: Experts say now is the time to plan for holiday travel

This year, there's another factor at play here, and that's gas prices that continue to rise because of the cost of crude oil.

“That’s the only thing… It’s $3.59 look at this! I never saw this, ever," said Jamal Smith of Hamden while at a rest stop on I-95 in Branford. 

Those rising prices are causing some to rethink how they travel this holiday season. 

"About 35 percent of those that said they were not traveling mentioned gas prices as a factor in that decision," Noble said.

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AAA said the average cost of gas in CT on Monday was $3.54. For some, that's still not enough to keep them from seeing family. 

"A time like this, COVID, everyone, everything all hectic you know family is the best option to be around," Smith said.

RELATED: Yes, you can save money by buying an airline ticket at the airport, but it depends on the airline

Partly because of that, some will choose to fly instead. 

“One of the biggest increases is that we saw an 80 percent jump in those that are going to be flying this year compared to last year," Noble said. 

But according to Donna Hubbs, where people fly has changed because of a shift in values. Hubbs said many people are forgetting about vacations and paying more attention to spending time with family. Because of that, she's not seeing a lot of inquires this holiday season. 

"I mean Thanksgiving would already be booked if I was going to do it and I haven’t seen much for Christmas," said Donna Hubbs, Co-owner of D&D Travel Services LLC. 

But, it's still more than she saw last year.

"We cancelled evening we had," Hubbs said. 

Despite the rising prices across the board, many tell FOX61 they're excited to see family for the holidays, since they didn't get to last year. 

"The support ones, the ones you love, what’s what it’s all about," Smith said. 

Bradley International Airport offers the following five tips for passengers:

Arrive Early

With more individuals traveling during a condensed timeframe, the airport will be busy. Passengers are advised to arrive at the airline ticket counter at least 90 minutes prior to their flight’s departure.

 

Confirm Your Flight

Before you come to the airport, confirm your flight with your airline and consider checking in for your flight ahead of time.

Plan for Parking

Parking closest to the terminal, especially in the garage, is popular and will be in high demand. Visit the airport’s website ahead of your arrival for the latest information on parking availability and follow directional signage at the airport to guide you to open lots.

Bring a Face Covering with You

While many establishments have loosened their face covering requirements, wearing a face covering is required and federally mandated at airports and onboard aircraft (regardless of vaccination status).

Follow TSA Screening Guidelines

Have your credentials ready and pack properly to help speed-up your screening process.

While the State of Connecticut does not require COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers, testing remains available in the airport’s baggage claim for those wishing to get tested. Pre-registration is recommended and can be completed through the lab that administers the testing.

Family and friends who are picking up passengers from Bradley International Airport during the Thanksgiving holiday week are encouraged to use the Cell Phone Waiting Lot located on Light Lane, while waiting for passengers to arrive and retrieve any luggage. Parking in the Cell Phone Lot is free.

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