Calif. Thanksgiving travel season will be busier, longer this year – SFGate

 In Business

Thanksgiving is a time for togetherness, and if you’re traveling the holiday week — it’s no longer just a long weekend — you’ll find plenty of company on the highways, at airports, aboard trains and even on long-distance buses.

AAA of Northern California, which releases annual holiday travel projections, says more Californians will be traveling more than 50 miles from home this Thanksgiving holiday than in the past nine years. That’s a 3.1 percent increase over last year.



Cynthia Harris, a spokeswoman for the association, said Thanksgiving travel has been slowly but steadily on the rise since bottoming out in 2007.

“This is an upward trend that we’re seeing and it’s due in large part to an increase in consumer spending, confidence in the economy and people being able to pay off travel expenditures,” she said. “It’s a sign that Californians are eager to travel.”

Thanksgiving has grown into more than just a four-day holiday weekend in recent years. It’s expanded into a travel period of a week or even more, especially for travelers heading out of state. Some school districts give students the week off, and airports now plan for larger-than-usual crowds starting the weekend before Thanksgiving.

“It’s just easier to take a whole week rather than a few days,” Tiffany Torok, 35, of Petaluma said while getting ready to board a flight at San Francisco International Airport on Sunday.

Torok; her husband, Sandor; and children, ages 6 and 1, were flying to Tucson where they will spend the week with her family.

“It’s so much more stressful if you’re leaving the day before Thanksgiving and then turning right around again,” Sandor Torok said. “This worked out with our schedule, and traveling on a Sunday is nice — lets face it.”

At all three international airports in the Bay Area, officials figure that the holiday travel season started on Friday.

San Francisco International Airport considers the holiday travel season to run from the beginning of Thanksgiving week through Jan. 2. During that time, the airport expects to see 6.5 million passengers — 5.7 percent more than last holiday season. The busiest travel day is expected to be Nov. 27 — the Sunday after Thanksgiving — when about 160,000 travelers will pass through SFO’s gates.

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