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Auto Club Predicts New Record For Thanksgiving Travel

Major Traffic Delays Projected For Wednesday Before Holiday


Editor’s Note: Link to Thanksgiving travel soundbites from Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe

More than 55 million Americans, 7 million Californians, and 4.3 million Southern Californians are making plans to kick off the holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

This will be the highest Thanksgiving volume on record for California travel and the second-highest travel volume nationally since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005.

By the numbers: 2019 Thanksgiving travel forecast

Mode of travel

Southern California




and % increase from 2018

and % increase from 2018

and % increase from 2018




4.3 million (+2.5%)


7.0 million (+2.5%)


 55.3 million (+2.9%)


3.7 million (+2.3%)

6.0 million (+2.3%)

49.3 million (+2.8%)


500,000 (+5.0%)

810,000 (+5.0%)

4.4 million (+4.6%)


123,800 (+1.2%)

200,000 (+1.2%)

1.5 million (+1.4%)


“This is the fourth Thanksgiving holiday period in a row that the percentage growth in air travel for Californians is higher than the growth in car travel, indicating continued consumer confidence in spending more for holiday trips,” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. “That’s despite an average seven percent increase in airfares over last year. Because of the increased number of travelers and the Thanksgiving holiday traffic, we strongly urge air travelers to allow both extra time to get to the airport and plenty of extra time to get through security.”

Top Destinations

Nationwide, Anaheim is expected to be the second most popular destination for Thanksgiving travelers, behind Orlando. Rounding out the top five destinations are New York City, Las Vegas and Honolulu.

The top five destinations for Southern California residents, according to a poll of Auto Club travel agents, are:

1) Las Vegas

2) San Diego

3) Mexico (cruises and resorts)

4) Grand Canyon

5) Lake Tahoe

The top air destination for Southern Californians is Hawaii.

When NOT to be on the road

For the 49.3 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts major delays throughout the week, peaking during Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon and evening with trips taking as much as five times longer because of commuter traffic mixing with travelers.

“With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week.”

For Los Angeles, the worst traffic spots and times for Thanksgiving travelers are:


Peak traffic congestion

Delay Multiplier

Delay location


I-10 E

Nov. 27 6 p.m.


Santa Monica to I-5 interchange


I-405 S

Nov. 27 5:30 p.m.


Roscoe Blvd. Panorama City to Interstate 110


I-405 N

Nov. 27 5:45 p.m.


I-110 to Roscoe Blvd.


I-10 E

Nov. 27 5:15 p.m.


State St. Los Angeles to West Covina


US 101 W

Nov. 27 8:30 a.m.


CA 170 to CA 23


I-5 S

Nov. 29 6:30 p.m.


Coast Highway in Capistrano Beach to Mission Ave. Oceanside

US 101 E

Nov. 27 5:30 p.m.


CA 23 to CA 170


Source: INRIX

AAA to rescue more than 100,000 California motorists
AAA expects to help 100,000 stranded drivers in California and more than 368,000 at the roadside across the country during this Thanksgiving holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the main reasons for members to call AAA for a roadside rescue. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.

Travel tips for the friendly skies

The Auto Club recommends that air travelers check the terms and conditions of their airfare before encountering unpleasant surprises at the airport. Some airlines now charge for seat selection and carry-on luggage as well as checked luggage, and some discount airlines charge travelers for printing their boarding passes at the airport instead of at home. Flight change fees and policies have also become more restrictive in recent years. In many cases you can avoid additional airline fees by packing light, pre-loading movies and shows on your tablets and smartphones to avoid WiFi costs, and packing your own snacks, pillow or blanket.

Car rental costs peak, gas prices dropping, hotel prices mixed

Holiday road trippers should budget more for a rental car this year, which have reached their highest prices on record for the Thanksgiving holiday (since 1999), at $75 per day. Travelers will also pay a bit more at AAA Two Diamond hotels, where prices are 1% more than last year, or $125 per night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Three Diamond hotels has fallen 5% to an average nightly cost of $158.

Southern California gas prices are more than 30 cents a gallon higher than at this time last year, but they should continue dropping through the Thanksgiving holiday into December, according to the Auto Club.

Media Contacts

Marie Montgomery
(714) 885-2333
Doug Shupe
LA-based media contact
(512) 659-1632
CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.