Car travel up, but air travel drops

Auto travel is up this year, but air is down during this holiday weekend, officials said.

About 90% of the 2.5 million Southern California are traveling by car this Labor Day weekend, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Cheaper gas prices may have a hand in the 11% increase in auto travel from 2009, auto club officials said. Gas prices were hovering around $3 a gallon on average, and the top driving destinations included Las Vegas, San Diego, and Santa Barbara, auto club officials said.

With many cars on the road, Glendale police officers made 13 DUI arrests Friday and Saturday in part of a county-wide campaign to get dangerous drivers off the streets, officials said. Officers also seized marijuana, hashish and cocaine in some instances, police said.

Air travel through Bob Hope Airport was off between 1% to 2% from last year, but that's a strong showing compared to two years ago. At the peak of the recessison, ticket sales were down double digits from historic highs, said Victor Gill, an airport spokesman.

"We don't know about unemployment per se but the economy is defiantly a factor for reduced activity the last two years," he said.

Between Sept. 2 and Sept. 8, airport officials said more than 60% of 127,000 seats were booked.

"What that tells you is there should be a good availability of seats," Gill said. "Holiday travel is always busy but most flights seem to have space this holiday weekend."

Contrary to popular belief, Labor Day is usually the endpoint, not the beginning of peak seasonal travel, Gill said.

"You start low in the winter and build slowly in the spring and peak in the summer and that drops off in the fall," he said. "After Labor Day, you usually see a fall off. Holiday weekends like holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas will have highs for holiday travel but not seasonal travel."

Those who stayed behind said they made the right choice. The Josephs said they wanted to be off the grid this holiday weekend. The family of four lounged on towels and lawn chairs at Verdugo Park on Saturday, reading and throwing around a baseball.

They all own cell phones, but left them at home to stay unplugged for a few hours, Glendale resident Linda Joseph said.

"It's just another fine weekend," she said. "The weather is perfect, and it's nice exercise to walk over here."

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