Christmas Eve travel increase this year - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Christmas Eve travel increase this year

FLORENCE,SC (WMBF) - Triple A is forecasting this year’s holiday travel to top 100 million in the U.S. for the first time, and 90 percent of that are people taking the road.

The Shell gas station near the exit of I-95 and 52 in Florence has been filled with drivers all day. Store manager, Jeff Lee, has been with the business for 20 years. He says there is a noticeable increase of inside store sales and gas sales the end of December. “The start of this week was a little slow I guess because of Christmas falling on a Friday, but today has been crazy. We are looking at probably a 50 percent increase over a standard weekday for the winter time," says Lee.

This exit is almost exactly halfway between Miami and New York, making it the perfect stop for drivers along the coast. Lee hopes his location brings in even more business from travelers, especially the end of December. He says, “With Christmas being on a Friday the preceding weekend wasn’t as big as we anticipated and it’s been a steady build for today to be unusually large.”

Maggie Fraser and her husband stop at the shell gas station each year as they drive up to North Carolina for Christmas. Fraser says, “We drive I-95 the whole way, we leave from Florida, go 301 and pick up I-95. Its been a very pleasant drive today, courteous drivers, traffic is flowing. There have been police officers out controlling the traffic, which is good and we stopped here to gas up because the gas prices are better here in South Carolina.”

People were also traveling by plane today. Those who were at the Florence Regional Airport were hoping to fly to friends and family well before Christmas day, but instead waited there for hours because of flight congestion at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

More than half of the flights out of Florence were delayed either because of maintenance problems or congestion at Charlotte airport. One family on their way home to Florida waited five hours to fly to Charlotte first and then Orlando.

Todd Osterhout says he’s not flying on Christmas Eve again because of this possibly happening again. “They’ve changed the schedule three times now I’ve been trying to get home, you now its Christmas Eve I'm trying to get home to my wife, so I'm getting pretty frustrated at the moment," says Osterhout.

Triple A says since December 8th, gas prices are almost 64 cents per gallon below the average than last year. They say the full year-end holiday travel period is December 23- January 3rd.

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