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If You Are Traveling This Memorial Day Weekend, We Have Bad News


Are you planning on flying anywhere this Memorial Day Weekend? If so, you will have plenty of company, because it seems like everyone else in the world will be flying as well.

We’re only somewhat exaggerating, as a new report indicates that this summer will see record levels of travel…as well as, most likely, record levels of airport congestion.

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According to the most recent AAA travel forecast, 42.3 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more during the upcoming holiday weekend, a 7% increase over last year to the tune of 2.7 million more people. In total, it is expected to be the busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2005.

There’s more where that came from, as the travel planning group thinks this summer is going to be one of the busiest in years.

“More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement. “This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports.”

Get Ready for Major Crowds

Air travel is expected to increase 11% from 2022, with 3.4 million people expected to fly during Memorial Day weekend. That’s an increase of 5.4% over 2019, or 170,000 more air travelers.

It’s great that everyone wants to travel, of course. Life is short, go see the world or visit an old friend. 

But the problem here is that demand is going to far exceed supply, as the ongoing pilot shortage, lack of air traffic controllers and the lack of available aircrafts and parts means airports will not only be more crowded than ever, but you will be waiting longer for your flight….if it even gets to take off. 

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Will the summer of 2023 top last year in terms of delays and cancellations? We’ll have to see.

Of course, you also have the option to drive, but just know that you’ll have a lot of company on the highway. Memorial Day road trips are expected to be up 6% over last year, as an estimated 37.1 million Americans will drive to their destination, an increase of more than 2 million. This is partly due to gas prices starting to decrease, by car travel this holiday will be shy of pre-pandemic numbers by about 500,000 travelers

Traffic congestion can put anyone in a bad mood, but if you plan ahead you might be able to minimize the worst of it. INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, predicts that Friday, May 26 will be the busiest day on the roads during Memorial Day weekend. The best times to travel by car are in the morning or evening after 6 p.m and The lightest traffic days will be Saturday and Sunday. 

“With lower fuel prices and more travelers on the road compared to last year, drivers should expect long delays this holiday weekend, especially in and around major metros as commuters mix with Memorial Day travelers,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice is to avoid driving during peak hours or use alternative routes.” 

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