A Delta Air Lines passenger plane lifts off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where some travelers might face delays and cancellations over Memorial Day weekend. File Photo by John Dickerson/UPI | License Photo
May 27 (UPI) -- Despite record-high gasoline prices, experts expect busy travel over Memorial Day weekend as people appear eager to get out after having COVID-19 disruptions for more than two years.
The AAA predicts that 39.2 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this weekend starting Friday, a bump of 8.3% over 2021. That would bring travel above pre-pandemic levels and rivaling 2017.
Air travel is expected to rebound as well, up 25% over last year, the second-largest increase since 2010.
"Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what's to come for summer travel," Paula Twidale, senior vice president at AAA Travel, said in a statement.
"Based on our projections, summer travel isn't just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation, and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months."
Getting to a destination won't be a bargain, though.
On Friday, the average price of regular unleaded gasoline in the United States was $4.599 per gallon, a fraction of a cent off the record-high of $4.60 set the day before. Last year at this time, the regular gasoline price was $3.041 per gallon, and it was $4.134 just last month.
Not everyone will be on the roads, however. Millions of people plan to fly to visit relatives or just go on a mini-vacation.
Jack Varela, a spokesman for the Miami International Airport, said it is expecting more than 600,000 passengers to move in and out of the airport from Friday through Monday.
"Our growth has been unprecedented," Varela told WFOR-TV. "We're expecting 150,000 passengers a day. The parking garages, for example, are filling up very fast."
Some passengers could face delays and cancellations over the holiday weekend, though.
At the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines announced cuts in its flight schedules because of "operational challenges" resulting from COVID-19 cases and shortage of pilots.
Delta warned that could cause headaches for some since many of their flights already are fully booked for the long weekend.
"More than any time in our history, the various factors currently impacting our operation -- weather and air traffic control, vendor staffing, increased COVID case rates contributing to higher-than-planned unscheduled absences in some work groups -- are resulting in an operation that isn't consistently up to the standards Delta has set for the industry in recent years," Delta chief customer experience officer Allison Ausband said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.