Schenectady County

Gas prices, airline woes not stopping vacations

Neither record-high gasoline prices nor news of instability for airline travel seems to have deterre
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Neither record-high gasoline prices nor news of instability for airline travel seems to have deterred families determined to escape the Capital Region for spring break Friday.

“We almost ran out of seats in our cafeteria this afternoon, we had so many people going through here,” Albany International Airport Authority spokesman Doug Myers said.

Albany International Airport has been relatively untouched by grounding of American Airlines MD-80s, because American Airline doesn’t fly that plane in and out of Albany, and its subsidiary American Eagle flies the smaller 40-passenger Embraer 140. Myers said passengers appear not to have been fazed by the controversy.

“This is a heavy travel day. It will be heavy over the weekend as well. People should be getting here up to two hours before their flight,” Myers said. “This is a popular time to travel, people have planned it for quite a while, bought their tickets in advance and they are determined to get there.”

The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the Capital Region hit $3.41 per gallon Friday, up 9 cents from last week and 54 cents from last year, AAA Northway spokesman Eric Stigberg said. That local average price now ties the record national average price, adjusted for inflation, set in March 1981, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Despite the high gas prices, Stigberg said AAA Northway has seen a 2.5 percent increase of people using the “Triptik” driving route planning program on its Web site.

“There doesn’t seem to be any dropoff in the number of people taking trips,” Stigberg said. “We’ve seen high gas prices over the last two years and every time we look at our peak vacation periods … we continue to see record high travel. I think what happens is people realize, going into their auto trip, that it’s going to cost extra to fill their tank so they are going to save money [on things like hotel accommodations and food].”

New York State Thruway Authority Spokeswoman Sarah Kampf said Thruway Authority officials are not anticipating a significant increase in traffic volume this week.

“Typically we anticipate traffic and suspend construction during major holidays such as Labor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Easter or Christmas, but we will be monitoring traffic and we will adjust if necessary,” she said.

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