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Labor Day weekend travel to rise with lower airfares and gas prices

San Diego

Arizona State University students Sarah Fluhr, left, and Cody Hoge share a laugh and brew at a local Mission Beach pub in San Diego, the top destination for Southern Californians this Labor Day weekend.

(Don Tormey / LA Times)

With gasoline prices on the decline and airfares dropping, more Southern Californians are expected to travel this Labor Day weekend.

The Auto Club of Southern California has forecast that 2.5 million Southern California residents will travel for the holiday weekend, a 1% increase over last year’s holiday. A vast majority of Southern California travelers, 86%, are driving to their destination by car, according to the Auto Club.

A holiday trip is defined by the Auto Club as travel of at least 50 miles between Thursday, Sept. 3, and Monday, Sept. 7.

Filomena Andre, Auto Club vice president for travel products and services, said she didn’t expect a big increase in travelers because the holiday falls on the latest date possible, Sept. 7, coming after most children have started school. Labor Day falls on the first Monday of September.

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“But dropping gas prices will give those who do travel some more flexibility in their getaway budgets,” she said.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the Los Angeles area is $3.56, about 27 cents per gallon less than at this time last year, according to the Auto Club.

Airfares are also on the decline. According to calculations by the travel website Orbitz, airfares are down 11% compared with a year ago, while hotel prices remain about the same.

Airline experts say the drop in airfares can be attributed primarily to lower fuel costs, which represents the industry’s biggest expense, while demand for air travel remains steady.

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“Airfares are down almost across the board, giving consumers the potential to get away on the cheap this holiday weekend,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor for Orbitz.

For Southern California travelers, the top vacation destinations this weekend are San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, the Central Coast and the Grand Canyon, according to the Auto Club.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.


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