CLEVELAND (WJW) – If you plan to travel this holiday weekend, you will have plenty of company on the road and in the air.
AAA says this Memorial Day weekend could be one for the record books as many people release their pent up desire to get away. They say more than 42 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home for Memorial Day weekend.
The weekend is considered Thursday through Monday. They say travel is up about 7% over last year and approaching numbers we experienced before the pandemic.
The security line at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was packed with people headed out of town for the Memorial Day weekend — what many consider the unofficial beginning of summer.
AAA has been tracking travel numbers since 2000.
“2023 is going to be third busiest Memorial Day since we started keeping track of the date,” said AAA spokesperson Lynda Lambert.
We spoke to several passengers arriving in Cleveland Friday afternoon from other cities, including a man coming in from Jacksonville, Florida for a family event.
“I left at 10:00, around 10:00 and straight through, no long lines and the same thing in Philadelphia. I had a long layover in Philadelphia though, but it didn’t seem that crowded to me. I mean, it was a lot of people, it wasn’t empty, but it was pretty cool traveling,” said one traveler.
“It was very easy in Atlanta. No one was there. I went through security in five minutes,” said another traveler.
“JFK wasn’t too bad, there was like an alert that there was going to be a ton of traffic and stuff like that, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected,” said another.
“The TSA came out a few weeks ago and said that they are bracing for pre-pandemic numbers for Memorial Day and summer travel and our numbers at AAA are showing the same thing. Air travel for just this holiday weekend is up 11% over last year,” said Lambert.
Officials at the travel agency say that, even despite the fact that airfares in some cases are up almost 40% over 2022.
Anyone driving to their holiday destination should expect crowded highways too with 37 million people expected to travel by car.
“For so long, we could not travel, countries were closed, the United States was shut down and now that we are coming out of the pandemic, people have maybe saved those vacation dollars and they haven’t taken those trips to be with family and friends and now they’re ready to do so,” said Lambert.
AAA says cruises are up 50% and international travel is up 250%.
Good news, if you’re driving to your destination, gas prices are lower than last year, when the national average was more than $4 a gallon.