Coronavirus cases on the rise, gas prices continue to rise record highs and heat waves and storms are forecast for many parts of the United States. But millions of Americans are still expected to take to the skies this Memorial Day weekend, in what will likely be one of the busiest travel periods since the start of the pandemic.
About 39.2 million Americans plan to travel over the long weekend and most will travel by road, according to AAA estimates, the group of car owners. This holiday weekend’s travel volume, expected to grow 8.3 percent from 36.2 million who traveled the same weekend in 2021, is getting closer to prepandemic travel numbers, AAA spokesperson Ellen Edmonds said.
“We think this is due to pent-up demand over the past two years, when many people chose not to travel,” said Ms Edmonds.
Americans are hitting the road in large numbers, despite a steady increase in coronavirus cases. For the past week, an average of 110,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the United States every day since Thursday, a 26 percent increase from two weeks ago, according to a report. New York Times database† Hospital admissions have risen 29 percent in the past two weeks, to about 26,100 a day, and the number of new deaths has averaged less than 400 a day for the past two weeks.
Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel at AAA, said Memorial Day was a reliable indicator of the summer season.
“Based on our projections, summer travel will not only get hotter, it will also be on fire,” Ms Twidale said in a statement.
But a bad weather forecast for the weekend can mess up travel plans. Parts of the southwest are under increased fire warningscurrently experiencing a dangerous combination of low humidity, warm temperatures and strong winds.
Rain and thunderstorms are expected across much of the country Friday through Sunday, including the northeast, southeast, Gulf Coast and Pacific Northwest, with possible flash flooding, hail and strong wind gusts. according to the National Weather Service†
Air traffic has significantly exceeded the number of passengers this year compared to last year, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration† The country’s busiest airports are bracing for a wave of customers this weekend, which, combined with inclement weather and ongoing staffing problems, could lead to overbooked flights and long lines at check-in counters and airport restaurants.
Some airlines take precautions early. Delta Air Lines has issued a travel permit between May 26 and 28, allowing travelers affected by adverse weather conditions forecast in parts of the country to rebook flights without paying the fare difference.
This comes after Delta and other airlines, including JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines, preemptively shortened their summer flight schedules to help overcome operational hurdles. On Thursday, Delta announced it would cut about 100 daily flights from July 1 to “build additional resilience” into its schedule, according to a statement.
Air traffic was far from smooth this year. Passengers have struggled with dozens of delayed and canceled flightsrising ticket prices, airplane fuel shortages and ever-changing travel requirements, including mask mandates.
Travel experts suggested getting to the airport early and getting travel insurance.
“Air travel has faced several challenges since the beginning of the year,” said Ms. Twidale. “With the kind of volume we expect, we continue to recommend the travel agency safety net and travel insurance. Both are a lifesaver when something unexpected derails your travel plans.”