AAA predicts worst travel days around Christmas holiday

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The Auto Club announced the worst days to drive or fly in San Diego during the Christmas travel rush.

8.2 million people will travel in Southern California for the holiday, AAA spokesman Doug Shupe reported. All but one million of them will drive.

The worst of the commute starts Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m., as regular weekday traffic combines with travelers looking for an early start on their vacation.

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Follow air traffic over San Diego and the rest of the U.S. live on 10News Facebook:

10NEWS MAP -- San Diego's Lindbergh Field and U.S. air traffic

Today is expected to be the busiest day for travel across the U.S. Here's a live look at air traffic over San Diego and the rest of the country: http://bit.ly/2BWIKqB

Posted by 10News – ABC San Diego KGTV on Friday, December 22, 2017

Thursday will also be a rough day to drive, Shupe said.

The worst time to fly will be Friday evening, according to the AAA predictions. Hawaii is the top place for Southern Californians to fly.

As for the return home, Shupe said New Year’s Day will be very busy. The roads will also be packed on Tuesday, January 2, he said.

RELATED: Road trip tips for the holiday season

The top destinations for Southern California travelers are:

  1. San Francisco
  2. San Diego
  3. Palm Springs
  4. Mexico (resorts and cruises)
  5. Las Vegas

It’s going to be a pricey road trip, too. AAA reports the price of gas is about 40 cents higher per gallon than at this time last year. However, that should have little impact on travel, Shupe said.

In addition to the usual commute crunch, some roads are still closed due to the Thomas Fire. Caltrans posted the closures online.

RELATED: How to unplug for the holiday season

“Holiday travelers who booked ahead saved on airfares, which were about 20 percent lower than for this time last year, and on hotel rates, which were slightly cheaper than for last year’s holiday,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Economic health and some lower travel costs are giving consumers more opportunities to enjoy ‘big ticket’ vacations during the holidays and throughout the year.”

Lindbergh Field officials suggest travelers arrive at least one and a half hours before their departure time for domestic flights and two and a half hours ahead of time for international flights.

Also, be aware of parking at the airport. Travelers are reminded:

  • They can reserve parking online for Valet or the airport’s Long-Term or Economy lots by visiting www.UpgradeYourParking.com.
  • Take advantage of Short- and Long-Term parking options: Green is for the Long-Term Lot, located east of the airport; Blue is for the Economy Lot, located north of the airfield.
  • Free shuttle buses are available from these short- and long-term lots to all airport terminals and are also color-coded and feature images of popular destinations from San Diego.
  • Disabled parking for travelers with disabilities is also available at all airport lots. For more information call 619-291-2087.
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