Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

About 3.54 million residents of Southern California are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home during the Thanksgiving travel period, which officially starts Friday.

Around the state, the number of holiday travelers is projected to be 5.7 million, an increase of only six-tenths of 1 percent from last year, the Automobile Club of Southern California said, attributing the lack of significant movement in the figures to lower-than-expected job and economic growth.

Still, the number of  local residents projected to travel at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday Nov. 25 and Sunday Nov. 29 is the greatest for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2007, when 4 million Southern Californians took trips.

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

Both in Southern California and around the state, nearly 86 percent of travelers are expected to drive, and 11 percent are expected to go by air.

About 3.03 million Southern Californians will travel by car — a 0.7 percent increase over 2014, according to an Auto Club statement. More than 380,000 are projected to fly, which is a 0.4 percent decrease from last year. Statewide, 4.9 million will drive to holiday destinations, and 616,000 will go by plane.

“Air travelers can expect crowds and increased security over this holiday, so we recommend arriving at the airport at least two to three hours early for domestic flights and three to four hours ahead for international flights,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services.

“As usual, Southern California road traffic will be heavy and unpredictable during Thanksgiving weekend, particularly on Wednesday and Sunday (Nov. 29), so travelers should plan accordingly.”

Nationally, 46.9 million people are expected to travel over this holiday weekend, which is an increase of 0.6 percent from last year. Eighty-nine percent, or 41.9 million, will drive to their destinations, and 3.6 million are expected to fly.

At Los Angeles International Airport, a record 2.1 million passengers are expected to pass through Los Angeles International Airport over the 11-day Thanksgiving holiday travel period, a jump of 6.9 percent over last year’s record of 1.96 million passengers, officials said.

“As more people choose to work, visit, study and play in Los Angeles, LAX keeps on breaking records,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said earlier this week. “L.A. is a world-class destination for visitors from around the globe, and this is great news for our local economy.”

Airport officials said they estimate 205,000 passengers to pass through the airport Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then jump to 219,000 on Monday. An estimated 197,000 travelers are expected at the airport Nov. 25, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving and the following Friday will be the slowest days, with 147,000 and 170,000 passengers, respectively.

Los Angeles World Airport Executive Director Deborah Flint urged travelers to “reduce the stress of holiday travel by planning ahead and allowing extra time for getting to LAX.”

Airport officials also encouraged people to use public transportation, including the FlyAway bus service and Metro Green Line, to avoid congested traffic at the airport. They also urged people who are picking up visitors at the airport to use the Cellphone Waiting Lot at 96th Street and Vicksburg to avoid circling the airport and adding to the congestion.

—City News Service

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