Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The most since 2005; INRIX predicts record delays on Wednesday

ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2019) – More than 55 million travelers are making plans to kick off the holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving. This will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005. Overall, an additional 1.6 million more people will travel compared with last year, a 2.9% increase. The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations and, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects Wednesday afternoon to be the worst travel period nationally, with trips taking as much at four times longer than normal in major metros.

Additional Resources

“Millions of thankful Americans are starting the holiday season off right with a Thanksgiving getaway,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “Strong economic fundamentals are motivating Americans to venture out this holiday in near-record numbers. Consumer spending remains strong, thanks to increasing wages, disposable income and household wealth, and travel remains one of their top priorities for the holiday season.”

By the numbers: 2019 Thanksgiving travel forecast

  • Automobiles: 49.3 million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8% more than last year.
  • Planes: With 4.6% growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the Thanksgiving holiday, with 4.45 million Americans expected to fly.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel by other modes will reach 1.49 million, a slight increase of 1.4% from 2018.

Nothing worse than Wednesday: Times NOT to be on the road

For the 49.3 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts major delays throughout the week, peaking Wednesday with trips taking as much four times longer as commuters mix with travelers.

“With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week.”

Metro Area Worst Time Wednesday, Nov. 27 Delay Multiplier
Atlanta 5:30-7:30 PM 3.5x
Los Angeles 5:00-7:00 PM 3.5x
New York 5:15-7:15 PM 3.5x
Boston 4:30-6:30 PM 3.4x
Houston 5:00-7:00 PM 3.4x
San Francisco 2:00-4:00 PM 3.2x
Washington DC 3:00-5:00 PM 2.8x
Seattle 4:00-6:00 PM 2.7x
Detroit 5:15-7:15 PM 2.6x
Chicago 4:15-6:15 PM 2.4x

Source: INRIX

Lower gas prices fuel road trips; AAA to rescue more than 368,000

Gas prices have been fluctuating as of late, but are currently cheaper than the national average at this time last year, giving Americans a little extra money to spend on travel and motivating millions to take road trips. For the majority of Americans, AAA expects gas prices to be fairly similar to last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, which averaged $2.57.

Meanwhile, more than 368,000 motorists will call AAA for assistance at the roadside this Thanksgiving holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. And remember to slow down and move over for stopped emergency vehicles at the roadside.

Travel tip for the friendly skies: Fly Monday before Thanksgiving

A recent analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years revealed that flying the Monday before the Thanksgiving travel rush is the best option for travelers. It has the lowest average ticket price ($486) prior to the holiday and is a lighter travel day than later in the week. Travelers can also save by traveling on Thanksgiving Day, which has the week’s lowest average price per ticket ($454).

Car rental costs peak, hotel prices mixed

Holiday road trippers should budget more for a rental car this year, which have reached their highest prices on record for the Thanksgiving holiday (since 1999), at $75 per day. Travelers will also pay a bit more at AAA Two Diamond hotels, where prices are 1% more than last year, or $125 per night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Three Diamond hotels has fallen 5% to an average nightly cost of $158.

Warm weather beckons this Thanksgiving

The theme parks of Orlando and southern California, and other warm-weather destinations will see an influx of travelers looking to escape the start of winter. Florida is home to four of the top 10 destinations, and Hawaii twice graces the list of top destinations in the U.S. this Thanksgiving, based on advance AAA Travel bookings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Anaheim, California
  3. New York, New York
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada
  5. Honolulu, Hawaii
  6. Lauderdale, Florida
  7. Tampa, Florida
  8. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
  9. Phoenix, Arizona
  10. Miami, Florida

For those travelers planning an international vacation for Thanksgiving, sandy beaches are their destinations of choice. Nassau, Bahamas; Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Montego Bay, Jamaica are AAA’s top international destinations this Thanksgiving, with Munich, Germany rounding out the top five.

AAA’s travel experts remind travelers that it’s not too late to begin planning a Thanksgiving getaway. Visit AAA.com/Travel for travel planning resources to book your trip today.

Methodology:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays.

About AAA:

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

Media contacts:

AAA
Julie Hall, APR
(407) 444-8003
juhall@national.aaa.com

INRIX
Mark Burfeind
(425) 284-3825
mark.burfeind@inrix.com

Travel industry thought-leaders explore transforming the AAA member experience

SEATTLE (Oct. 29, 2019) – AAA Travel, one of the largest leisure travel agencies in North America, hosted its annual conference Oct. 20-22 in Seattle, Washington. With a theme of “Travel: Transforming the Member Experience,” the event focused on how AAA continues to evolve its travel offerings along with changing consumer expectations, as the association recently reached a record-high 60 million members. The conference featured world-renowned speakers including: bestselling author and motivational speaker, Erik Qualman; journalist Ron Insana; and travel industry experts Terry Dale, CEO of the United States Tour Operators Association; Emmy Award-winning travel host Samantha Brown; Tourism Cares’ chief impact officer, Paula Vlamings; and more.

“Travelers want their vacations to make a mark on their lives, to be memorable and engaging. They want to embrace and interact with locals and immerse themselves in the culture by doing something authentic to the destination or learning something new,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel in her conference keynote speech. “AAA is focused on keeping pace with the experiences that drive member expectations, paving the way for a transformed member experience that leads to continual engagement and creating members for life.”

During the conference, AAA presented leading travel industry suppliers with prestigious Partner of the Year Awards in 14 categories. These highly coveted awards recognize the partners’ commitment to providing AAA travel agents and members with exemplary travel services in their respective product categories, and for marketing, member service and travel agency support. Additionally, four of AAA’s top-performing agents were honored with Travel Agent Superlative Awards.

“We are proud to present AAA Travel’s Partner of the Year Awards to some of the top companies in the travel industry. AAA is intentionally selective of our preferred partners whose products and services reflect our brand, and these companies offer exceptional value to our members,” said Twidale. “We are also honored to recognize four of our top travel agents with Superlative Awards, based not only on remarkable sales levels, but more importantly, their commitment to personalized vacation planning for members.”

2019 Partner of the Year Awards

(Photos available upon request)

Ocean Cruise Partner of the Year:
Royal Caribbean International

River Cruise Partner of the Year:
Viking Rivers

Guided Tour Partner of the Year:
Member Choice Vacations

Independent Tour Partner of the Year:
Pleasant Holidays

Lodging Partner of the Year:
BWH Hotel Group (Best Western)

Best in Marketing:
Cruise:                  Viking Rivers
Tour:                     Trafalgar
Lodging:               Marriott International

Best in Member Service:
Cruise:                  AmaWaterways
Tour:                     African Travel
Lodging:               BWH Hotel Group (Best Western)

Best in Travel Agency Support:
Cruise:                  Royal Caribbean International
Tour:                     Trafalgar
Lodging:               BWH Hotel Group (Best Western)

 

2019 Travel Agent Superlative Awards

Henry Dennis, AAA Carolinas

Highest Sales Volume

Henry Dennis, a six-time Superlative Award winner, has more than 30 years of experience in the travel industry. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree in in Tourism Management from Northeastern State University, he is a Certified Travel Counselor and Accredited Cruise Counselor. He holds multiple destination specialist accreditations, as well as numerous supplier and destination certifications. Dennis is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he has served AAA Carolinas’ members for more than 23 years.

Rhonda Bartnikowski, Auto Club Enterprises

Highest Revenue

Rhonda Bartnikowski, a nearly 25-year veteran of the travel industry, is an agent with Auto Club Enterprises, based in Williamsburg, Virginia. Her success comes from a philosophy of creating value and offering indispensable information. She also relies on a wealth of product and destination expertise, helping her provide members a consistently high level of service.

Mary Brown, Auto Club Enterprises

Highest Preferred Cruise Sales

Mary Brown began working at Auto Club Enterprises in 2002 as a member service representative at the La Quinta, California, branch office. She was promoted to travel agent in 2010. Since then, she has received numerous awards for her performance and client service, including the club’s top cruise sales Superlative Award in 2012.

Julie Hill, AAA Auto Club Group

Highest Preferred Tour Sales

Julie Hill’s journey in the travel industry began in 1989 in her hometown of Camden, Maine. Realizing her passion for travel and wanting to advance her career, she became a travel agent with AAA Northern New England before eventually relocating to Naples, Florida. She has been with the Auto Club Group in Naples for the last 21 years, expanding her knowledge and expertise, earning her Certified Travel Associate designation, and destination specialist certifications for Hawaii, Africa and many travel suppliers.

The Partner of the Year Award selection process included surveys and evaluations from the association’s club travel agency executives. Superlative Awards are based on agents’ leisure travel productivity and leisure group sales from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. Thousands of agents were eligible for the awards, and AAA clubs nominated their top achievers.

For more information on AAA’s travel offerings, visit AAA.com/Travel.

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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AAA recommends travelers consider an International Driving Permit as part of their vacation planning

ORLANDO, Fla. (October 17, 2019) – One-quarter of Americans plan to take an international vacation over the next 18 months, according to a recent AAA Travel survey. AAA’s advance travel booking data suggests that many travelers will head to popular European destinations like Rome, London, Dublin and Paris, and warm-weather locales in Mexico and the Caribbean, including Cancun, Montego Bay and Punta Cana, with most travelers in search of unique experiences.

Additional Resources

“More and more travelers are looking for experiential travel opportunities and seeking ways to intimately engage with their destination, whether at home or abroad,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “There are many ways to do that, especially with the great American road trip remaining a beloved vacation option and for many, AAA has found that road trips are increasingly appealing to U.S. travelers while overseas.”

AAA’s survey revealed that 80% of Americans have taken at least one vacation outside the United States, and two in five of those, or nearly 77 million adults, have rented or used a personal vehicle while doing so. Aligning with this finding, AAA reports a 33% increase in International Driving Permits (IDPs) sold in the last five years (through 2018).

An international driving vacation comes with additional planning considerations and paperwork for which travelers need to be prepared. More than 150 countries accept IDPs; many countries do not recognize U.S. driver’s licenses without an accompanying IDP, and it is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most places. An IDP is a legal document that translates U.S. driver’s license information into 10 foreign languages and AAA is one of only two entities authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue IDPs.

“Travelers can easily apply for an International Driving Permit with an application accessible online or in person at AAA, whether they are a member or not,” continued Twidale. “The nominal $20 fee is a small price to pay for peace of mind while traveling overseas.”

Top International Travel Destinations: Book Now for Savings

These are the top international travel destinations, based on AAA Travel bookings for trips over the next 18 months:

  1. Rome, Italy
  2. Cancun, Mexico
  3. London, England
  4. Dublin, Ireland
  5. Paris, France
  6. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  8. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  9. Munich, Germany
  10. Barcelona, Spain

“Millions of Americans are making plans to travel internationally this year and next. For those who will not, AAA’s survey found that one of their top concerns is the expense,” said Twidale. “A trip out of the country doesn’t have to break your bank. There are opportunities to save, and now is the ideal time to do so. Many travel suppliers offer early payment incentives to travelers who book and pay for their trips before the end of the year. Travelers who lock in their plans now can take advantage of great cost savings.”

Tips for International Travel

Planning an international vacation can be a daunting task, but AAA Travel experts advise travelers they don’t have to go it alone. AAA recommends these additional tips to prepare for a trip overseas:

  • Seek the expertise of a knowledgeable travel agent; they can make recommendations and help navigate the myriad options available for international travel, saving time, money and the hassle of planning solo.
  • Review the AAA Travel Guides, recently enhanced with additional international destination information, for tips on where to go, how to get around, what to do and see, and what not to miss on vacation.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your vacation investment and ensure a smooth vacation experience.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and remain vigilant while traveling internationally. Refer to the U.S. Department of State for detailed recommendations and country-specific information. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which makes it easier for the nearest embassy or consulate to contact U.S. citizens in case of an emergency.

Potential Impact of Brexit

Home to AAA’s third-most popular international travel destination, the United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union on Oct. 31. It is not clear whether or how tourism to the region will be affected. However, in the event no deal is struck between the governments of the UK and EU, travelers may experience delays at the border when crossing between the UK and other top destinations in Europe. Additionally, if travelers encounter any political protests or demonstrations, the U.S. Department of State cautions travelers to avoid those areas if possible, and to be careful within the vicinity of demonstrations. Travelers should continue to monitor the United Kingdom travel advisory and seek the expertise of a knowledgeable travel agent.

For more information or to start planning a trip, visit AAA.com/Travel.

Survey Methodology

AAA’s international travel findings are the result of a telephone survey conducted among two national probability samples (landline and cell phone) consisting of 1,002 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted from August 22 to 28, 2019. This study has an average statistical error of ±3.1% at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults. Results are weighted by age, gender, region, race/ethnicity and education to be proportionally representative of the U.S. adult population.

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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AAA reveals the ideal time to purchase flights for
Thanksgiving and Christmas starts Sept. 25

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 19, 2019) – The much-anticipated Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays may still be months away, but the best time to book flights for these busy travel weeks is quickly approaching. In fact, a recent analysis of AAA Travel’s flight booking data from the last three years reveals that Sept. 25 marks the start of the best booking window for air travel around both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

“Holiday travelers should make their plans now and begin booking their flights for Thanksgiving and Christmas as early as Wednesday, Sept. 25 for the best deals and availability,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “Procrastinating travelers may be able to find last-minute deals on flights close to the holidays, as airlines look to fill their last few remaining seats, but flight availability for these peak travel weeks will be very limited by that time.”

Additional Resources

Thanksgiving Insights

Most travelers book their flights for Thanksgiving between Sept. 25 and Oct. 27, which is 28 to 60 days prior to the holiday and offers relatively good prices ($491 on average). Surprisingly, AAA’s analysis found that travelers can find some of the best pricing ($482 on average) seven to 13 days before the holiday, Nov. 11-17 this year. However, limited availability will make seats hard to come by at these discounted rates.

Flying Monday of Thanksgiving week is the best option for travelers to arrive at their destinations before the holiday. It has the lowest average ticket price ($486) prior to the holiday, and is a lighter travel day than later in the week. For travelers more concerned about crowds than cost, the Sunday before the holiday has the highest average price per ticket ($564) and it is consistently the lightest travel day. Travelers can save by traveling on Thanksgiving Day, which has the lowest average price per ticket ($454).

Christmas Insights

While many travelers are focused on Thanksgiving, they would be wise to consider Christmas now as well. AAA found that 61 to 90 days prior to the holiday (between Sept. 26 and Oct. 25) is the sweet spot for Christmas flight bookings, with prices lower on average ($551) than more advanced bookings. However, most travelers book between 28 and 60 days before Christmas — between Oct. 26 and Nov. 27 — and still get a relatively good price ($561 on average). Like Thanksgiving, last-minute Christmas travelers can find the overall best pricing ($488 on average) seven to 13 days before the holiday week, but flight availability is likely to be very limited by that time.

Regardless what day of the week Christmas falls on (a Wednesday this year), most travelers depart two to four days prior to the holiday. These travelers, on average, pay ticket prices of $593 on Dec. 21, $639 on Dec. 22 (the busiest air travel day of Christmas week), and $603 on Dec. 23. However, AAA found that Christmas Eve is the best day to travel. It consistently has the lowest average price per ticket ($527) and is the lightest travel day of the week. Many travelers opt to travel after the Christmas holiday leading up to New Year’s, and they pay a premium to do so. Dec. 26 has the highest average ticket price of the week at $692.

“Last year, AAA projected that 54.3 million Americans would travel over the Thanksgiving holiday and a record-breaking 112.5 million during the longer year-end holiday season,” continued Twidale. “If those trends hold again this year, travelers are in for crowded airports and, possibly, longer wait times. Pack your patience and plan ahead, giving yourself plenty of time at the airport to maintain that holiday cheer.”

When it comes to getting the best value for your travel this holiday season, AAA recommends:

  • Start researching holiday travel options now and book flights by Oct. 27.
  • Consult a knowledgeable travel agent; they can take the guesswork out of researching and evaluating the many available options, saving time, the hassle and the headache.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance for your flight to protect your trip from life’s unexpected surprises that can throw a wrench in your plans.

For more information, visit AAA.com/Travel.

Methodology

AAA analyzed its member flight booking data for travel within the continental United States, from 2016-2018 to determine the best and most popular times to book air travel for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, as well as the prices travelers pay during various advance booking windows. An unweighted, three-year average ticket price was used for this analysis. Since Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday, the full week of Thanksgiving (Sunday through Saturday) was analyzed. For the Christmas holiday, Dec. 19-26 was analyzed, regardless of what day of the week Christmas fell on that year.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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AAA Honors Top Hotels for Cleanliness and Condition

July 31st, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping Award Showcases the Best and Brightest Among 27,000 AAA Inspected & Approved Hotels

Julie Hall
ORLANDO, Fla. (July 31, 2019) – AAA’s new Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping award recognizes AAA Inspected & Approved hotels that receive the highest possible cleanliness and condition scores, giving travelers another important indication of what it means to be a AAA top-rated hotel in North America.

Additional Resources

While every hotel must meet expected standards of cleanliness and condition to qualify as AAA Inspected & Approved and receive a Diamond Rating, hotels awarded the Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping designation significantly surpass expectations, as measured during a comprehensive, on-site inspection. All areas of the property must reflect this very high standard as AAA inspectors review for evidence of dirt, dust, pests, equipment performance and more.

“AAA has found that cleanliness and physical condition are consistently among the most important components travelers consider when looking for a hotel. This new designation identifies hotels with exceptional practices,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “The vast majority of AAA Inspected & Approved hotels fall in the midscale, Three Diamond range, so those that earn the Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping badge are a step above in a way that matters to today’s discerning traveler.”

A hotel’s housekeeping and maintenance attributes are among the most rigorous components analyzed during the unannounced evaluation conducted annually by AAA’s professionally trained inspectors. All AAA Inspected & Approved hotels at all Diamond Rating levels, throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, may qualify for the Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping designation.

“In addition to passing AAA’s rigorous on-site inspection, the properties that have received the Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping award have demonstrated a tremendous commitment to keeping their property in top condition – whether that be a small inn or bed-and-breakfast, a sprawling resort or a skyscraping city hotel – at all times for our members and their guests,” continued Petrone.

Properties must demonstrate housekeeping excellence for two consecutive inspections and be free of AAA member complaints to meet the criteria for this award, which puts them in the top 25% of all 27,000 AAA Inspected & Approved hotels.

AAA’s professional inspectors evaluate and rate properties year-round, so the total number of properties to achieve the Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping award varies throughout the year. (All figures listed below are as of July 19, 2019.)

States with the Most AAA Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping Hotels

  1. California (982)
  2. Florida (485)
  3. Texas (468)
  4. North Carolina (458)
  5. New York (406)
  6. Virginia (328)
  7. Pennsylvania (281)
  8. Tennessee (268)
  9. Maryland (238)
  10. Massachusetts (215)

Cities with the Most AAA Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping Hotels

  1. New York, New York (161)
  2. Houston, Texas (90)
  3. Washington, D.C. (78)
  4. Orlando, Florida (69)
  5. Charlotte, North Carolina (68)
  6. Austin, Texas (63)
  7. Nashville, Tennessee (61)
  8. San Diego, California (60)
  9. Anaheim, California (50)
  10. San Antonio, Texas (49)

To find AAA Inspected & Approved hotels that have earned the 2019 AAA Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping award, visit the AAA Travel Guides or TripTik Travel Planner.

Hotels that receive the award are eligible to license the 2019 AAA Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping badge and market the accolade everywhere they promote their hotel. For more information, properties can visit AAA.biz/Housekeeping.

About AAA Inspections

For more than 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The AAA inspectors who assign these ratings have a wide range of hospitality experience – their resumes include stints as hotel managers and food and beverage experts – that gives them an authoritative perspective. Inspectors provide an unmatched first-person, on-site view of emerging trends, which includes the continuing evolution of technology to elevate the guest experience.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the online AAA Travel Guides and TripTik Travel Planner and the AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Nearly 2 million more travelers than last year planning July 4 getaways, according to AAA

Julie Hall

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 25, 2019) – More Americans than ever recorded by AAA, nearly 49 million, are making plans to honor the red, white and blue with an Independence Day getaway this year. (AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000.) Overall travel volume for the holiday is expected to rise 4.1% over last year, with an additional 1.9 million people planning road trips and other vacations to celebrate America’s birthday. For the record-high 41.4 million Americans who will travel by automobile this Independence Day, INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute, with Wednesday, July 3 the worst day on the roads.

Additional Resources

In addition to lower gas prices compared with last summer, broader economic fundamentals remain strong. Low unemployment, robust consumer spending, and rising disposable incomes are all encouraging more consumers to invest their hard-earned money in travel this summer.

“As Independence Day approaches, it’s time for the much loved family road trip and this year will be one for the record books, with more Americans than ever planning vacations,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “This holiday builds on the strong travel demand seen for Memorial Day, and with schools now out of session across the country, families coast to coast are eager to travel.”

Independence Day holiday travel, by mode

  • Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 41.4 million – will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 4.3% more than last year.
  • Planes: 3.96 million people will take to the skies, the highest number on record and 5.3% more than last year.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 0.6% to 3.55 million passengers.

Record-level drivers equals record-level delays

For the 41.4 million Americans traveling by automobile this Independence Day, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Wednesday, July 3 as commuters mix with holiday travelers. In major metros, drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute. Nationwide, delays are expected to increase by approximately 9%.

“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays around our major metros,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, hands down, Wednesday afternoon will be the worst time to be on the road.”

 

Region Worst Day for Travel Worst Time for Travel Delay Multiplier
Atlanta Friday, July 5 5:00 – 7:00 PM 2.5x
Boston Friday, July 5 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM 3.4x
Chicago Friday, July 5 1:00 – 3:00 PM 2x
Detroit Wednesday, July 3 2:00 – 4:00 PM 2x
Houston Thursday, July 4 1:00 – 3:00 PM 3x
Los Angeles Wednesday, July 3 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM 2.7x
New York Wednesday, July 3 1:45 – 3:45 PM 3.8x
San Francisco Wednesday, July 3 1:30 – 2:30 PM 2.5x
Seattle Thursday, July 4 12:00 – 2:00 PM 3x
Washington, DC Sunday, July 7 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM 2.4x

 

Lower gas prices motivating millions of road trippers

With today’s national average of $2.66, gas prices are 19 cents less year-over-year and expected to drop even lower into the summer. This is motivating record numbers of travelers to take road trips for the holiday weekend.

“Gas prices are, on average, 17 cents cheaper than Memorial Day weekend, which is welcome news for motorists hitting the road to celebrate the July Fourth holiday,” said AAA gas price expert Jeanette Casselano. “More so, summer gas prices are poised to continue dropping even lower in coming weeks.”

Travelers paying more for July 4 car rentals and airfares

Some of the savings travelers are enjoying from lower gas prices will go toward other travel costs this holiday, which are trending higher. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares on average are 10% more expensive compared with last Independence Day, while average car rental rates are 5% higher than last year, at $69 daily. Meanwhile, midrange accommodations are expected to cost travelers between $153 for AAA Two Diamond and $189 for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels.

Top Independence Day travel destinations
Fun-in-the-sun locales like Orlando and Honolulu lead the top 10 the list of popular destinations for American travelers this Independence Day, based on advance AAA Travel bookings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii
  3. Seattle, Washington
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada
  5. Anaheim, California
  6. New York, New York
  7. Boston, Massachusetts
  8. Maui, Hawaii
  9. Anchorage, Alaska
  10. Chicago, Illinois

For those travelers planning an international vacation, Europe is the destination of choice. Rome, London, Dublin and Paris are the most popular spots for international vacations this Independence Day, with Vancouver, Canada — a top departure port for Alaskan cruises — rounding out the top five.

According to Hertz, a 40-year AAA partner, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers renting a car this Independence Day are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS) and San Francisco (SFO). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Wednesday, July 3.

AAA to rescue nearly 367,000 motorists
AAA expects to rescue nearly 367,000 motorists at the roadside this Independence Day holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. Additionally, before hitting the road, motorists need to be prepared for emergencies by taking along a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.

AAA reminds travelers that it’s not too late to plan an Independence Day trip. Visit AAA.com/Travel to get started.

Methodology:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7. In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2019 Independence Day holiday travel forecast is available here.

About AAA:

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

AAA forecasts the most holiday road trippers on record; INRIX predicts drive times could be more than three times longer than normal

Julie Hall

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 15, 2019) – Nearly 43 million Americans will start their summers on a high note with a Memorial Day weekend getaway. This long holiday weekend, marking the unofficial start of summer vacation season, will see the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes dating back to 2000, trailing only the bar set in 2005. Overall, an additional 1.5 million more people will take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways compared with last year, a 3.6% increase.

Additional Resources

Despite a rising national gas price average that is inching closer to the $3 per gallon mark, the vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. For these motorists, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads could be more than three times longer than normal during evening commutes.

“Americans are eagerly anticipating the start of summer, and expensive gas prices won’t keep them home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “Consumer spending remains strong, helped by solid job and income growth. Families continue to prioritize spending their disposable incomes on travel, and near-record numbers of them are looking forward to doing just that for Memorial Day.”

By the numbers: 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast

  • Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 37.6 million – will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 3.5% more than last year.
  • Planes: 3.25 million people will take to the skies, 4.8% more than last year, second only to 2005.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 3.8% to 1.9 million passengers.

Drivers beware: Worst times to hit the road

For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Several major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip, while New Yorkers and Washington, D.C., could see three times the delay.

“Drivers in the most congested metros should expect much worse conditions than normal,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst, INRIX. “Travelers should anticipate delays to start on Wednesday and continue through Memorial Day. Our advice to drivers is to avoid the morning and evening commuting times or plan alternate routes.”

 

Metro Area Worst Day for Travel Worst Time for Travel Delay Multiplier of Normal Trip
Atlanta Thursday, May 23 4:30 – 6:30 PM 2.2x
Boston Monday, May 27 3:45 – 5:45 PM 3.0x
Chicago Friday, May 24 3:30 – 5:30 PM 1.6x
Detroit Friday, May 24 2:30 – 4:30 PM 1.7x
Houston Sunday, May 26 2:15 – 4:15 PM 1.0x
Los Angeles Friday, May 24 4:30 – 6:30 PM 1.0x
New York Thursday, May 23 4:45 – 6:45 PM 2.0x
San Francisco Saturday, May 25 1:00 – 3:00 PM 1.6x
Seattle Monday, May 27 3:30 – 5:30 PM 1.0x
Washington, D.C. Monday, May 27 3:45 – 5:45 PM 3.0x
      Source: INRIX

Higher gas prices won’t keep holiday travelers home
Gas prices have increased by more than 30 cents in the last two months with the national average approaching $3 per gallon ($2.86 on May 14, 2019), which is relatively on par with prices this time last year ($2.87 on May 14, 2018). However, 88% of travelers will choose to drive to their Memorial Day destinations this year, the most on record.

“When gas prices are expensive, travelers may shorten the distance of a road trip, eat out less or look for free activities,” said AAA gas price expert Jeanette Casselano. “But, overall, prices are very similar to this time last year and, like then, they aren’t letting that deter them from taking summer road trips.”

Travelers to see relief in lower hotel and car rental costs

While road trippers are paying more to fill up their vehicles at the gas pump, some of that additional expense can be made up with lower prices on car rentals and hotels this Memorial Day. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, car rental prices have declined 7% compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Mid-range hotels are between 2% and 3% cheaper this year, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively, for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties. Meanwhile, airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average roundtrip price of $171.

Top Memorial Day travel destinations
Orlando, New York City and Las Vegas can expect an influx of travelers for the holiday. These are the top destinations in the U.S. this Memorial Day weekend, based on advance AAA Travel bookings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. New York, New York
  3. Las Vegas, Nevada
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Anaheim, California
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Phoenix, Arizona
  8. Anchorage, Alaska
  9. Tampa, Florida
  10. San Francisco, California

For those travelers planning an international vacation for Memorial Day, Europe is the destination of choice. Rome, London, Dublin and Paris are the most popular locales for international vacations this Memorial Day weekend, with Vancouver, Canada, rounding out the top five.

According to Hertz, a more than 40-year AAA partner, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers renting a car this Memorial Day are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), and San Francisco (SFO). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Friday, May 24, with an average rental length of nearly five days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.

AAA to rescue more than 353,000 motorists
AAA expects to be called on to rescue more than 353,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble.

AAA recommends motorist take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.

Methodology:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27. In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here.

About AAA:

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

Theme Parks, European Vacations Top Summer Travel Itineraries

April 11th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

Majority of U.S. travelers planning a summer getaway

Julie Hall

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 11, 2019) – According to a recent AAA Travel survey, two-thirds of leisure travelers (64 percent) plan to take vacations this summer. Many of those vacationers will head to historical European cities or soak up the sun in Orlando’s theme parks and attractions, according to an analysis of AAA’s travel booking data.

“Millions of Americans are making plans for summer vacations, visiting famous landmarks in Europe, family attractions stateside, and anything in between,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “AAA recommends travelers plan ahead and book early with the expertise of a knowledgeable travel agent to maximize your vacation experience, saving time and money so you can focus on making vacation memories that will last well after summer fades away.”

Additional Resources

Top Summer Travel Destinations

These are the top summer travel destinations, based on AAA Travel bookings for trips June 1 through August 15, 2019:

 
  1. Orlando, Florida (1)
  2. London, England (5)
  3. Rome, Italy (2)
  4. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (3)
  5. Dublin, Ireland (4)
  6. Paris, France (7)
  7. Seattle, Washington (9)
  8. Anchorage, Alaska (8)
  9. Honolulu, Hawaii (6)
  10. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (12)

*Number in parentheses indicates summer 2018 ranking.

Top trends for summer travel this year include:

  • Orlando, Florida, once again claims the top spot as the most-visited summer travel destination. The city’s world-famous theme parks are a top draw for families, as Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World prepare to unveil new attractions this summer.
  • Europe is a bucket list destination for many Americans, and this summer is no exception. London has grown in popularity compared with last year, while Rome, Dublin and Paris continue to be hot spots for top summer travel destinations.
  • Alaskan cruises are a top vacation choice for summer travelers this year, with Vancouver, Seattle and Anchorage topping the list of embarkation ports for these coveted sailings.
  • After a harsh winter, many Americans will flock to warm-weather destinations, particularly those in Hawaii and the Caribbean. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, has once again cracked the top 10 after briefly dipping off last year’s list.

“These top locales are sure to see an influx of travelers this summer, but some people will be looking for great vacation spots with slightly fewer crowds,” continued Twidale. “Other destinations to watch this year that didn’t quite make the top 10 list include Montego Bay, Jamaica; Calgary, Canada; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Anaheim, California.”

Be Road Trip Ready

While many travelers will tour Europe, take cruises, visit theme parks and soak up the sun in Hawaii or the Caribbean, road trips remain a top choice for many families this summer. AAA expects to be called on to rescue nearly 8 million Americans at the roadside this summer season, with the top reasons being flat tires, lockouts and dead batteries. AAA Automotive experts recommend these car care tips to prepare your vehicle for a summer road trip:

  • Tires – Make sure to inflate tires to the recommended pressure listed in the owner’s manual or on the driver-side doorjamb. To check tread wear, insert a quarter upside down; if the top of George Washington’s head is visible at any point, it’s time to start shopping for new tires.
  • Brakes – Inspect the brake system for fluid leaks, and check all components for wear at every oil change and whenever there are signs of a potential problem. Pay attention to any brake warning indicators on your car’s instrument panel, or any grinding or scraping noises when applying the brakes.
  • Battery – After three years, have your battery tested to determine remaining capacity. In many areas, AAA members can have a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician come to their home or work to perform a free battery test and install a new battery on site if needed.
  • Fluids – Change the oil at the intervals specified by the vehicle manufacturer and use an oil that meets the vehicle’s factory specifications. Also, check the engine coolant and brake, transmission, and power steering fluids.

Regardless of destination, travelers can look to AAA for assistance planning and booking unforgettable vacations this summer. For more information, visit AAA.com/Travel.  

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Road trips reign supreme for family getaways

Julie Hall

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 21, 2019) – From coast to coast, families are gearing up for another year of exciting travel adventures with their loved ones. According to a recent AAA Travel survey, nearly 100 million Americans – 4 in 10 U.S. adults – are planning to take a family vacation in 2019, slightly more than last year. Spring and summer road trips will top many of these families’ vacation plans.

  • Two-thirds of all family travelers (68 percent) will embark on a summer getaway, while just under half (45 percent) are making plans to travel as a family this spring.
  • Regardless of the season, the great American road trip remains a major draw for these families; about half of traveling families (53 percent) expect to pack up their cars for a road trip this year.
  • Travelers in the South are more likely to be making plans for a family trip this year (62 percent) than travelers in the Northeast (35 percent).

Additional Resources

A welcome gift to road trippers, gas prices have averaged nearly a quarter cheaper so far in 2019 compared with the first few months of last year. While gas prices are increasing now, summer prices are expected to be cheaper than last year. Another recent AAA survey found that 33 percent of Americans would go on at least one additional summer road trip if gas prices remain low.

“The great American road trip is still one of the best ways for families to relax and reconnect with one another,” said Stacey Barber, executive director, AAA Travel Information & Content. “This is quickly shaping up to be another busy year for family travelers, both on the roadways, as well as other popular travel destinations and attractions. To make the most of their vacations, AAA recommends families plan and research as far ahead as possible to avoid missing out on popular activities and fun.”

To help inspire would-be road trippers, AAA’s travel editors have curated more than 450 pre-planned road trips. The top five routes for summer travel according to AAA member road trip routing data are as follows:

  1. Las Vegas to National Parks – Any road trip through the desert southwest is full of unique twists and turns, regardless of whether you remain on the interstate or head off along enticing back roads. Long the destination for gold prospectors and other dreamers, the mountains and valleys of the Arizona, Nevada and Utah deserts today provide a glimpse of mankind’s historical interaction with the area’s fantastic natural landscapes.
  2. Northern California and Southern Oregon Coast – The trip begins in California’s Central Valley, meanders through high elevation forests and snakes up the awe-inspiring Pacific coast. Not to be rushed, this extraordinary route is winding, narrow and flanked by the ocean and majestic redwood trees. As you make your way past beach towns and shifting sand dunes, you’ll find constant stops are necessary to photograph the stunning terrain.
  3. Northern New England – You’ll travel the backroads of New England on this trek through the Berkshires of Massachusetts and the Green Mountains of Vermont. Quaint country inns, steepled churches and weathered barns—some predating the Revolutionary War—dot the roadside.
  4. Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina – If any drive merited the term “scenic,” it’s the Blue Ridge Parkway. Begun in 1935 to create a transportation link between Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it was finally completed in 1983. This winding road was designed to maximize enjoyment of the mountainous terrain, so heed the posted speed limit.
  5. Black Hills, South Dakota – This picturesque route winds through South Dakota’s Black Hills, taking you from one of America’s best-known landmarks, Mount Rushmore, past granite spires and into historic mining towns nestled in valleys thick with Ponderosa pine. The area packs so much scenery into a small area that it’s become a mecca for motorcyclists and anyone else who loves the outdoors.

For more destination recommendations, travel tips and expert advice from AAA inspectors and travel editors, visit AAA.com/TravelTips. AAA’s travel experts offer these top tips for a perfect family road trip:

  • Be prepared – For passengers, pack books, games, or music for the ride, and a pillow. Bring information on your destination to keep kids and other passengers entertained. Pack healthy snacks for kids, especially if you can’t stop for a full meal while traveling.
  • Safety first – Drivers should plan frequent stops, about every 100 miles or two hours, to remain alert. Make sure everyone is restrained by seat belts or a child safety seat to prevent injury in case of a sudden stop, swerve or crash. AAA members who are renting a car through Hertz can request a complimentary infant car seat or toddler booster seat.
  • Pack your patience – Be prepared for busy roads and long airport security lines throughout the summer. If hitting the road during a holiday weekend, consider leaving earlier or later than the typical holiday travel times to avoid heavy traffic. Same goes for air travel, and be sure to arrive at the airport at least two hours before scheduled take-off.
  • Do your research – To make the most of your trip, map out your route in advance, using a tool like AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner. For extra guidance, seek the advice of a knowledgeable travel agent. And be sure to download the AAA Mobile app to find AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants, gas prices and fun stops along the way.
  • Be road trip ready – Take your vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. In case of an emergency, always carry a flashlight, extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, a first-aid kit and extra water. To locate a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop in your area, visit com/AutoRepair.

Passengers are one of the most precious cargo on a trip, be it 5 or 50 miles down the road. AAA recommends drivers keep their attention on the road by pre-programing GPS devices and adjusting seats and mirrors before driving. So a driver can remain focused safely on driving, enlist the help of passengers and don’t use handheld or hands-free cell phones while driving.

AAA’s family travel research is the result of a telephone survey (landline and cell phone) consisting of 1,007 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted January 24-27, 2019. This study has an average statistical error of ±3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults.

 

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Three Restaurants Added as AAA Five Diamond Honorees

February 14th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

Just 67 restaurants in North America meet AAA’s rigorous Five Diamond expectations

Julie Hall

ORLANDO, Fla. (February 14, 2019) – Only 67 restaurants in North America currently have what it takes to hold AAA’s distinctive Five Diamond Rating, including three restaurants added this year – Atera, COAST and Oriole. The coveted 2019 Five Diamond Award restaurant list makes up just 0.2 percent of the nearly 32,000 AAA Inspected & Approved restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Additional Resources

Among the exclusive number of high-end establishments that have attained the Five Diamond Rating, AAA’s inspectors note many are adopting a much more casual environment in response to evolving guest preferences for a more relaxed experience. High-end restaurants are adopting simple, streamlined décor and, thanks in part to the popularity of cooking shows and competitions, some continue to highlight lively open kitchen designs that allow guests to watch and even interact with culinary staff.

“Attaining the Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “To be considered leading edge, chefs must incorporate a laser-focused approach using innovative concepts and menus featuring the finest ingredients. Diners want to be wowed on multiple levels, so exceptional service is also important, but they’re not necessarily looking for all the formalities that were once synonymous with fine dining.”

Following a rigorous evaluation that includes anonymous dining by an experienced AAA inspector and review by a panel of experts, these restaurants earned Five Diamonds for the first time this past year.

  • Atera (New York, New York) – A treat for all the senses, the tasting menu slowly builds and excels with never-before-seen visual presentations and combinations. In a small dining room with a chef’s table open to the kitchen and a lone side dining table for a party of four, it does not get much more exclusive than this.
  • COAST (Watch Hill, Rhode Island) – Located within a stately seaside inn with dramatic views of the ocean, this restaurant prides itself on using local Rhode Island and Atlantic Coast farm-to-table ingredients. The menu changes daily to incorporate the freshest items from local farmers and fishmongers.
  • Oriole (Chicago, Illinois) – The classy dining room is made more interesting by the brightly illuminated display kitchen that allows diners to watch the artful assembly of each plate. A multi-course menu is designed to be a surprise for guests.

Atera and Oriole both debut as AAA Five Diamond restaurants, while COAST—Rhode Island’s first Five Diamond restaurant—was upgraded from Four Diamonds.

Those at the Four Diamond level, just 2.1 percent of AAA Inspected & Approved restaurants, are also an exclusive group. They offer a distinctive fine-dining experience, employing creative preparations that are skillfully served amid upscale ambience. This year, there are 656 Four Diamond restaurants located across North America, including 39 additions this year.

To see the complete lists of 2019 AAA Four and Five Diamond restaurants, visit AAA.com/DiamondAwards. To see which cities and states have the most award winners, see AAA Four and Five Diamond Restaurant Facts. The 2019 AAA Four and Five Diamond Award-winning hotels were announced in January.

About AAA Diamond Ratings  

For more than 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant inspections guided by member priorities. With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. AAA conducts these inspections as the trusted source of nearly 60 million members, guiding them to have memorable travel and dining experiences.

The AAA inspectors who assign these ratings have a wide range of hospitality experience – their resumes include stints as hotel managers and food and beverage experts – that gives them an authoritative perspective. Inspectors provide an unmatched first-person, on-site view of emerging trends, which includes the continuing evolution of technology to elevate the guest experience.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the online AAA Travel Guides and Travel Planner and the AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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