Busy travel holiday has drivers updating tires

Nearly 50 million Americans expected to hit the road

A driver put chains on the tires to get around Portland after snow and freezing rain, Jan. 4, 2016 (KOIN)
A driver put chains on the tires to get around Portland after snow and freezing rain, Jan. 4, 2016 (KOIN)

DALLAS (AP) — The slowly improving economy could boost travel over the Thanksgiving holiday to levels not seen in nine years.

AAA forecasts that 48.7 million Americans will travel, the busiest Thanksgiving period on U.S. roads and skies since 2007, the year before the global financial crisis plunged the U.S. economy into a deep recession.

The auto club AAA said that it expects 1 million more Americans to venture at least 50 miles from home, a 1.9 percent increase over last year.

The forecast was assembled at research firm IHS, which said it considered jobs, household net worth, the stock market, prices for gasoline and airline tickets, and other factors.

The researchers did their number crunching in mid-October, about three weeks before the surprising outcome in the presidential election.

The AAA forecast predicts that from Wednesday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 27, about 43.5 million Americans will take long car trips, 1.9 percent more than last year. AAA expects 3.7 million will travel by air, a 1.6 percent increase. Bus and train trips will grow less than 1 percent, the auto group said.

An airline-industry trade group is a bit more bullish. Airlines for America predicts that air travel will rise 2.5 percent over last year’s holiday, although the group considers Thanksgiving travel spanning a 12-day period that begins Nov. 18.

OREGON TRAVELERS PREPARE

With rain and snow expected, a lot of people are making the decision to gear up for the roads with snow tires. Page’s Mount Hood Tire and Auto in Welches said they’re booke with people trying to get those tires changed in time for travel.

Owner Chris Page said those can be lifesavers, even in the rain.

“Their main purpose is ice. So if you have deep frost or ice on the road, that’s the benefit. Anything else, the tire is doing all the work,” Page told KOIN 6 News.

“Even in rain these work. Even in rain, this can disperse so much water per minute or however you want to look at it. The main thing is for the tire to be able to get on the ground and stay on the ground and not be a gap of liquid in between when you’re doing 60 or 65 miles per hour.”

How do you know if your tires are acceptable snow tires? There’s a symbol of a mountain and a snowflake on the wall of the tire.

PDX Weather app — everything at your fingertips

AIR TRAVEL TIPS

Planes are likely to be packed over the holiday, and bad weather or airline computer malfunctions can slow things to a crawl. If the unexpected happens, be ready to react quickly.

Check FlyPDX.com to make sure your flight is on time — and to find out how full the parking lots are

—Arrive early. At some airports, including Dallas-Fort Worth International and Dallas Love Field, garages and other facilities are under construction, making matters worse.

—Pack smart. Don’t put anything you really need — medicine, passport, other important papers — in your rollaboard bag; or remember to remove it if the airline orders you to gate-check your bag, which happens when flights are full and bins are overstuffed.

—Customer assistance. If your flight is canceled, get in line to talk to an airline customer rep but call the airline too. You might have better luck reaching an overseas number — look up the numbers before your trip.

KOIN 6 News reporter Emily Sinovic contributed to this report.