Thanksgiving travel costs sting students

by Beacon Staff • November 19, 2008

Some Emersonians will be sacrificing home-cooked turkey this Thanksgiving as airfare prices have skyrocketed, leaving students to pick up the remaining slack.

"Last year I went to New York by choice, but this year in September when I tried to book flights home they were just too expensive," sophomore Abbey Niezgoda said.

Instead of spending Turkey Day in her hometown of Houston, the broadcast journalism major will be spending Nov. 27 with her best friend's family in Raymond, Maine.

"I couldn't ask my mom to spend the money to travel home when I should be worrying about more important things like paying for my 40 thousand dollar tuition" she said.

Airlines will offer almost 3,000 fewer domestic flights per day during the November holiday, an 11 percent decrease from 2007, according to a iUSA Today/i report.

Live Search Farecast, an independent travel research Web site, reports travel costs for Thanksgiving are up 27 percent from 2007. According to the site, the average traveler who leaves on Wednesday before Thanksgiving and returns the following Sunday will shell out approximately $490-an extra $66 from 2007's average holiday travel cost.

But not all students found financial problems when planning the trip home. Freshman Michelle Zelman, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., said she has round trip, non-stop tickets home for $450 in July.

"I'm an only child so my parents made sure I could get home for the holiday," the marketing major said.

While planes, trains, and pricey traveling pose a problem to some, the application process to remain on campus may prove to be a greater task.

Approximately two percent of Emerson students stay on campus during break, according to statistics from the Office of Housing and Residence Life.

Despite the number students who find themselves unable to go home for the holiday, this on-campus number has not increased significantly since last year. Instead, students are choosing to stay with family and friends who live in the area.

David Haden, associate dean and director of Housing and Residence Life, said an average number of students, between 15 and 20, are expected to request housing this Thanksgiving break.

This lack of interest in housing at Emerson College may be a blessing in disguise. Acquiring housing for break periods is no easy task because it is limited to rooms in the Little Building. Students who wish to receive living quarters are required to fill out an application and submit employment papers to the Office of Housing and Residence Life with a $56 fee.

While the application process is an obstacle for some, finding a room may also pose a challenge. Students must find Little Building residents who are willing to "rent out" their rooms for the week. Some students who cannot go home for break find it easier to stay with friends or relatives who live in the Boston area.

Most students, however, lament things, like losing their meal plan or being rewuired to work at dormitory reception desks during the holiday for those students who do stay.

Chelsea Graven said the holiday will still be expensive because, although she won't be paying for a plane ticket, she still has to find off campus restaurants to eat at during the week.

"It's frustrating that we can't use our meals since it's pretty difficult to cook food if you don't have pots and pans, which a lot of us don't," Graven said. "It probably won't end up being all that much less expensive to stay here than go home at the end of the day, with the cost of eating out all the time."