Getaway day for holiday weekend

Travelers hit roads, skies for Labor Day
September 5, 2009 6:58:55 AM PDT
Travel is down across the nation this Labor Day weekend, but plenty of Chicagoans are still getting out of townFriday is typically the getaway day for the long holiday weekend. But the number of people taking to the skies and roads across the nation is down 15-percent from last year. One reason: Labor Day fell late on the calendar this year.

"A lot of kids are back in school and that's why our numbers are showing that Labor Day travel is down about 20-percent in Illinois and 15-percent nationally," said Beth Mosher, AAA.

Gas prices down from 2008

The prices of filling up also fell $1 from last year. AAA said the average for regular gasoline in Chicago is $2.71 a gallon. Compare that to $3.97 this time last year. The Illinois average is $2.67.

Both the Kramers and McCarthys took their kids out of school on Friday to get an early start on the weekend. They're packing up the car and getting out of town.

"We got their school work in the van, so we've got their schoolwork for today," said Kurt Kramer.

"The kids had a busy summer between baseball and football starting. School started, of course, been in for a couple of weeks so we decided to take the kids out this Friday so we could have one last hurrah north," said Mark McCarthy

If you are hitting the road, the Illinois State Highway Authority is suspending lane closures this weekend. But there's a warning to divers: a 45-mile-per-hour speed limit remains in effect in all construction zones.

"Even though travel is down, there's still going to be a lot of people traveling," said Beth Mosher, AAA. "People need to give themselves enough time to get where they need to go. Plan ahead, and also, if traveling on the roadways especially, buckle up out there. Drive safe. Just be safe this Labor Day weekend."

Illinois State Police officers in Chicago and suburban police departments will conduct roadside safety checks. They're looking for drunk drivers and people who aren't wearing their seatbelts.

Many travelers looked for bargains- and found them on bus lines.

"We shopped around a little bit and the train was almost twice as much, so this was really the most economical way to go," said Brittany Eden, traveling to Minneapolis.

"College is very expensive so this is the most affordable way for me. I don't have a car, I share with my mom, so this is best way to go," said Diahna Davis, traveling to Cleveland

1.4 million passengers at Chicago's airports

While air travel is down nationwide this Labor Day, it's up at Chicago's airports. More than 1.4 million passengers are expected to go through Midway and O'Hare between September 3 and 8.

Competitive pricing came into play, according to Karen Pride, Chicago Department of Aviation.

"People taking advantage of the airlines, you know, good fares and they're trying to get people to travel more," said Pride.

"It's $135 a person. $270 I figure, by the time I drive for 8 1/2 hours, fill the car up two ways, got to stop and feed her, it all adds up," said traveler Patti Kramer, who is flying to Omaha instead of driving.

Chicago's airports are offering live music this holiday weekend. At O'Hare, they're also offering flu shots for a fee in Terminal 2.

Travelers load up buses


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