Oklahoma families are preparing to pack their bags and hit the road, take to the skies or cruise the ocean during the annual warm weather reprieve from the grind: spring break.
Will Rogers World Airport is reporting sold-out flights and expecting long lines at ticket counters and security checkpoints beginning this weekend as vacationers embark on their trips. The Oklahoma City School District is out for two weeks beginning Monday, and many other metro-area school districts take a weeklong break starting March 18.
Karen Carney, a spokeswoman for Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, said unlike regular business travelers, those on spring break tend to check more bags and carry more items through the checkpoint. She recommends arriving at the airport at least 90 minutes before departure to allow plenty of time.
Also, air travelers should be aware that a recently announced change allowing small knives in carry-on luggage doesn't begin until April 25, so existing restrictions will be in place during spring break.
Cancun, Mexico, tops the list for Oklahomans traveling by plane, and popular road trips include North Carolina, South Carolina, Orlando, Fla., San Antonio and Branson, Mo., said Chuck Mai, an AAA Oklahoma spokesman. Unlike other major holidays, the agency doesn't collect data on spring break travel because it's spread over several weeks.
“Our auto travel counselors and travel agents say they've been really busy. Lots of people are looking to skip town,” he said.
The fiasco aboard the Carnival Triumph last month hasn't deterred interest in cruising, he said. And cruise lines haven't dropped prices much, either. Dortha Vela, All About Travel president, said the only difference she's noticed is cruise customers now are requesting balcony rooms and avoiding cabins.
“People realize that's just one of those small things that happens with thousands and thousands of travelers,” she said.
But results of a Harris Interactive study indicate otherwise. More than half of Americans surveyed agree they are less likely to take a cruise now than a year ago. Travelers' intent to purchase a cruise trip isn't just down for Carnival but across the industry's top brands, a Harris executive said in releasing the results Monday.
Brandi McManus, founder of A-List Adventures, a travel agency for small, custom trips, said spring break trends have changed over the past few years, with fewer people taking wild party trips to Mexico out of safety concerns. Now people want to stay close to home and visit domestic locations such as cities in Texas, Santa Fe, N.M., the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, where they don't need a passport.
Kayak.com analyzed more than 1 billion Web searches for spring break travel and discovered warm weather destinations are more popular than snowy locales. Las Vegas, Florida (Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale all ranked high) and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, were the most searched. Searches for Austin, Texas, were up 127 percent due to the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, a music, film and technology event that began Friday.
At a glance
State offers staycation opportunities
Too late to book a getaway? Why not have a staycation and visit one of these Oklahoma attractions: