November gas prices are down, but they are still the highest since AAA started recording the data 20 years ago and are about 51 cents more expensive than last year.
That means those 6.3 million Californians who plan to travel by car this week will be paying the price, just at a slight discount since the peak of $6,438 per gallon this summer.
AAA tracks fuel prices as a public service and spokesperson Julian Paredes said the increase in travelers is 2% more than in 2021.
“And that’s a record, that’s more travelers than before the pandemic,” Paredes said.
For travelers who plan to fly this holiday season, Doug Yakel, public information officer for San Francisco International Airport, said the airport forecasts 5 million travelers from this past week until New Year’s Day. Yakel said the expected travelers from this year are about 85% from 2019.
For those who will be driving rather than flying this week, AAA advises travelers to check their fluids, tire pressure, vehicle repair kit and battery charger while making sure there are extra snacks and water. Another piece of advice is to leave early as traffic delays are expected.
“There are going to be a lot of people out there and pretty much every highway is going to be packed, it’s definitely smart to give yourself more time to travel than any other time of the year,” Paredes said.
AAA anticipates over 400,000 roadside assistance calls nationwide this week, he added.
The peak of travel will be on Wednesday from 8 am to 8 pm and for the remainder of the week, 4-8 pm is going to be the rush hours.
While traffic this week might slow drivers down, the prices at the pump are better than the past few months, Paredes said, as gas prices in California have dropped about 58 cents in the last month.
Officer Judith Bryant directs traffic at San Francisco International Airport.
“Gas prices in San Mateo County are $5.33 a gallon for regular gas,” Paredes said. “That’s about 13 cents above the average for California right now and California has the highest prices in the country.”
The national average is $3.63 per gallon in comparison, he added.
The price for a barrel of crude oil is $81.51 and has ranged from $80 to $90 a barrel for the last month.
Anyone who is planning to drive to the airport, the parking garage is at capacity so for travelers who plan to drive and park their car there. Yakel suggests reserving parking passes on FlySFO.com to ensure there is parking.
“We recommend getting to the airport two hours prior to the flight for domestic and three hours for international,” Yakel said.
Yakel recommends downloading the app from the airline to check bags online and use TSA Precheck to save time and waiting in lines.