With a superstorm and major election in the national rearview mirror, Americans can be forgiven if they aren’t exactly prepared for a feast — or flight — on Thursday.
Yes, this Thursday.
Thanksgiving arrives earlier than usual this year — the holiday falls on the fourth Thursday of November, which is usually at the end of the month. Although hotels have been dangling deals, travelers appear to have been taken by surprise. Overall, holiday travel is expected to increase only slightly compared to last year, and AAA is forecasting a nearly 2 percent dip in air travel nationwide for the period between Wednesday and Sunday.
“I think people just waited,” said Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com. “They didn’t realize Thanksgiving was coming and by the time they thought about booking, it was just way too late. Airlines have cut capacity back so much that for high peak times, things get sold out so quickly that whatever’s left winds up being very expensive.”
For the period between Nov. 16 and 27, industry trade organization Airlines for America expects almost 24 million people to fly, which the group says is an increase of about 150,000 people over last year. South Florida airports are expecting an uptick in travelers: Miami International Airport anticipates more than 888,000 passengers between Monday and Nov. 26, a 1.1 percent increase over the previous year. At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, where capacity has increased nearly 5 percent over last year, the number of travelers is expected to top 500,000 between Sunday and Nov. 25.
And the number of people on the road is expected to increase, likely due in part to gas prices that are significantly lower than a month ago. On Monday, a gallon of regular unleaded in Miami cost about $3.44, compared to nearly $3.76 a month ago. Gas is slightly more expensive throughout the state than it was last Thanksgiving, though AAA expects the recent slide in prices to level off because of unrest in the Middle East.
Whether they are driving across town or flying across the country, people in South Florida who find themselves surprised by the sudden onset of Thanksgiving can find plenty of discounted hotel rooms and lavish dinners out.
The Angler’s Boutique Resort is offering a 15 percent discount for stays of two nights or more between Thursday and Sunday and promoting a $44.95 Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant 660 at The Angler’s on social media. General manager James Ayres said he’s expecting a slightly busier Thanksgiving this year at the hotel and restaurant.
“I think a lot of people weren’t really prepared,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of pickup yesterday and today for reservations.”
Ayres said waiters were telling people at the restaurant for brunch over the weekend about the upcoming holiday menu.
“We’ve gotten a couple astonished looks that it was this week and not next,” he said.
B Ocean Fort Lauderdale has Thanksgiving and Black Friday packages on its website, featuring perks such as turkey sandwiches for a beach picnic on the holiday and pre-shopping espresso and post-mall wine at the hotel for Friday.
Director of sales Ron Gebhardt said the hotel will be close to sold out this weekend, up significantly from last year, due in large part to international increases.