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Continued: Hottest ticket for Minnesotans? Anywhere far from the cold

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 8, 2014 - 10:28 PM

I’m “ready to be done, [we’ve had] way too much snow,” Tammy Woker of Woodbury said before flying Thursday to Phoenix, which she picked largely for “guaranteed sunshine.”

That’s exactly what AAA Minnesota travel agents are hearing from travelers, requesting locations that are sure to be warm, such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Hawaii.

“The location is not the top issue,” AAA spokeswoman Gail Weinholzer said. “It’s ‘I want to go somewhere next week for $3,000, and I want to go somewhere warm.’ ”

While March is typically busy during spring breaks, she said so far this year, the number of flights booked January through June is up 33 to 50 percent compared to last year.

“People have had it,” said Terry Trippler, a Twin Cities-based national airline analyst. “It’s going to be a good winter for airlines.”

He said flight prices have held steady so far this year, but last-minute flights will cost more than normal because of the increase in demand. In fact, last-minute travelers may be out of luck.

At Minnetonka Travel, Yokiel said affordable flights are booked this month, except for some to San Diego. Or, she said, there are lots of spots on Alaskan cruises — or to Detroit.

“Warmer weather flight seats are at a premium,” Weinholzer added.

Think spring

Luckily, spring weather may be in sight in Minnesota.

Forecasts for the metro show temps will remain below normal but will stay in the 30s and 40s through the next few weeks. Star Tribune meteorologist Paul Douglas says no more subzero temps are in sight. And although it’s too far out to say with certainty, the National Weather Service’s 45-day trend shows 60s the second week of April.

But it’s too late for people like Trippler. After 37 years in the Twin Cities, he and his wife are moving to Rapid City, S.D., which has had temperatures in the 60s this winter.

“We’ve had it,” he said. “I seriously think we’re going to see more people leaving Minneapolis-St. Paul because of this winter.”

 

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 Twitter: @kellystrib

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