AAA: High Gas, Low Travel

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People are driving less even though the price of oil is well below $100 and the average price of regular gas, which many expected would hit $5,  is now under $3.85.

The AAA says that “39 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend, a 2.5 percent decline from the 40 million people who traveled a year ago.”

Wealth, it should come as no surprise, is the critical factor in making plans to travel by car. “The percentage of travelers with a household income of $50,000 or less is expected to decrease from 41 percent to 33 percent, while travelers with a household income of more than $100,000 are expected to increase to 35 percent from 26 percent,” the organization reports.

Oddly enough, the AAA says, more people will travel by air during the upcoming summer holiday. “A little more than three million leisure travelers (eight percent of holiday travelers) will fly during the holiday weekend, a nine percent increase from last year’s 2.75 million air travelers.”

The air travel versus car travel numbers do not make sense, so the forecasts may not be accurate. Gasoline may be expensive, but the cost to travel by air has soared. Airlines have added fuel surcharges on top of baggage fees. Some airlines have even begun to charge for printed tickets. Smart carriers increase prices when demand is high, as it will be over the July 4 weekend.

Can travelers who cannot afford gas afford air travel? It is hard to believe.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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