Those taking advantage of falling gas prices and filling up their tanks over the next few days for the holiday weekend likely will have lots of company.
With holiday weekend gas prices the lowest they have been in more than a decade, more people nationwide plan to travel for Labor Day than have in recent years, according AAA figures released Tuesday.
An estimated 35.5 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home over the upcoming Labor Day weekend — between Thursday and Monday — up 1 percent from last year. It’s the highest number of travelers for Labor Day since 2008, according to AAA.
Historically, travel for the holiday weekend has dipped when Labor Day weekend falls later on the calendar, as it does this year, AAA said. This year, for instance, many cities and towns nationwide will start school prior to Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 7.
Bucking the trend, people seem more eager to travel this weekend, however, likely spurred by falling gas prices.
The vast majority of travelers, 30.4 million or 86 percent, will travel by car. They will enjoy the lowest gas prices for Labor Day since 2004, according to AAA. While prices tend to rise ahead of holidays, drivers lately have benefited from falling prices at the pumps.
On Tuesday, Connecticut drivers paid an average of $2.59 a gallon for regular gas, down from $2.83 a month ago and $3.73 a year ago, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge report. Nationwide, a gallon of regular gas sold for an average of $2.45 Tuesday, down from $2.66 a month ago and $3.43 a year ago.
“Falling gas prices spell good news for Labor Day travelers, who will benefit from the lowest end-of-summer prices at the pump in a decade, and are paying more than a dollar less for regular unleaded fuel than they were a year ago at this time,” Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast’s spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Gasoline prices are driven by crude oil prices, which have dropped recently as supply has outweighed demand. Lower prices may not last long, as the East Coast faces some production challenges with a refinery in New Jersey operating at reduced capacity and a Delaware refinery shutting down last week because of a fire — but, for now, there is more than enough oil to go around, according to AAA.
Nationwide, only four states still have gas prices topping $3 a gallon: Alaska, California, Nevada and Hawaii. Connecticut has the 18th-highest gas prices in the country, according to AAA. South Carolina has the lowest average price, at $2.02 a gallon.
In addition to those hitting the roads, 2.6 million people, or 7 percent of travelers, will fly to their destinations, up 1.5 percent from last year. This year will have the highest volume of Labor Day air travel since 2007, according to AAA.
Airlines for America, a trade group representing the largest commercial airlines, predicts air travel will be up 3 percent — among both domestic and international flyers — and that the busiest day for air travel will be Friday.
According to AAA, 2.4 million people, or 7 percent of travelers, will take another mode of transportation, such as trains or buses, about the same as did last year.