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Holiday travel prospects brighten
Lower gas prices boost turkey day plans
Handy Lube 1 es
Tim Piatty, manager of Herbert Automotive Handy Lube in Cumming, cleans the fuel injector in a customer's vehicle Thursday. Piatty said his business typically picks up before Thanksgiving. - photo by Emily Saunders
Traffic updates
For those who plan on driving to celebrate Thanksgiving, the good news is the state Department of Transportation will suspend lane closures on interstates and major state routes from 5 a.m. Wednesday until midnight Nov. 30. For updates on traffic over the holiday weekend, go online at

Two months ago, a study from AAA Auto Club South showed Thanksgiving travel would likely decline this year.

But that was when gas prices were sputtered between $3.50 and $4 a gallon.

There still may be a decline over last year, but AAA spokesman Gregg Laskoski said he expects it won't be as high as originally projected.

"Because it's such a family-oriented holiday, it's certainly one that people are least likely to want to give up," he said.

That may be so, but business was down slightly last week at Herbert Automotive Handy Lube in Cumming.

"I guess people were just saving their money at the time, but it's started picking back up now," said manager Tim Piatty.

Business typically rises around Thanksgiving, he said, as "a lot of people are coming in and getting their stuff done before they go on a holiday trip."

Oil changes, transmission checks and fuel injector services are among the most common vehicle needs prior to Thanksgiving.

Peter Biegel, owner of A La Carte Travel in Cumming, said the cost of air travel is about the same as last year.

Regardless of price, "people are still flying."

With the ups and downs in gas prices and travel expenses, Biegel said he doesn't operate on expectations.

"I gave up guessing in this business," he said. "Travel looks pretty normal ... but most people bought their Thanksgiving tickets six months ago."

With the cost of gas under $2 per gallon statewide, and under $1.80 at several local stations, even airlines are taking notice, Laskoski said.

"A lot of airlines were telling people that they were cutting the number of flights," he said. "But with the decline in fuel costs, it looks like a lot of the airlines are trying to take advantage of that."

The September survey by AAA showed about 1.08 million Georgians were likely to travel by car and nearly 140,000 by plane.

About 100,000 fewer Georgians were expected to travel this year, according to the survey.

"What we're suspecting now is that because gas prices have continued to drop through October and well into this month, we think some of the people who indicated they were disinclined to travel, may be changing their minds," Laskoski said.

"People didn't anticipate gas prices would drop as much as they have."