U.S.: Record-Breaking Travel Expected For Memorial Day Weekend 2024

Memorial Day weekend is typically seen as an unofficial start to the summer season, despite the fact that spring is still a month away. This often results in heavy traffic. According to current estimates, travel during the forthcoming 2024 holiday next Monday, May 27, is unlikely to improve Memorial Day’s reputation among truckers and airline passengers. They may find themselves on some of the busiest routes and aircraft they have seen in decades.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts unprecedented road and airport congestion this weekend. The organization, which analyzes economic factors and collaborates with other groups to forecast travel conditions, reported earlier this month that 43.8 million Americans would travel at least 50 miles from Thursday to Monday. AAA predicts a 4% increase in overall travel compared to 2023. It would also be comparable to the busiest Memorial Day weekend on record, which occurred in 2005 when 44 million people left their homes for the vacation.

“We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years,” said Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, in a statement. “We’re projecting an additional one million travelers this holiday weekend compared to 2019, which not only means we’re exceeding pre-pandemic levels but also signals a very busy summer travel season ahead.”

Here’s what you need to know if you’re intending to travel this weekend by car or plane.

1. Prepare to encounter traffic

AAA predicts that Memorial Day weekend in 2024 will set a new record for road trips. The agency estimates that 38.4 million people will travel by car during the weekend, the highest amount reported for this holiday since the group began tracking Memorial Day travel trends in 2000.

Hertz, the automobile rental business, told AAA that demand for rentals this year will be highest in Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, and Orlando, with the majority of renters picking up their vehicles on Thursday and Friday.

In general, drivers who want to beat the traffic or confront less of it should avoid the highways in the afternoon on any day of the long weekend. AAA cites INRIX transit statistics as the worst times to travel by automobile in any U.S. time zone: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday.

The optimum times to drive are Thursday before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m., Friday before 11 a.m. or after 8 p.m., Saturday before 1 p.m. or after 6 p.m., Sunday before 1 p.m., and Monday after 7 p.m.

2. Airports will be overcrowded

Airports throughout the country are ready for another surge in travelers, following an upward trend in airline bookings around Memorial Day since last year’s numbers eclipsed pre-pandemic levels. AAA estimates that 3.51 million people will fly this weekend, up from 3.35 million last year. If as many people fly as projected, this will be the busiest Memorial Day weekend at airports since 2005, when AAA reported 3.64 million people had taken flights for the holiday.

United Airlines expects more than 500,000 passengers to fly each day from Thursday to Tuesday, making it the airline’s largest Memorial Day weekend on record. Delta expects 3 million passengers to fly on its planes throughout the six-day period, while American Airlines anticipates 3.9 million passengers to fly over the weekend.

3. Public transit tips

Any of the estimated 1.9 million individuals who will use public transportation to go to their destinations this weekend can also plan ahead. According to INRIX forecasts, metro travelers will suffer congestion in major cities such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington, D.C. Congestion on metros is likely to peak in such areas in the late afternoon, early evening, and mid-morning from Thursday through Monday.

Forecasts indicate that D.C., Los Angeles, Houston, and Tampa will experience the greatest increases in metro crowding compared to their respective norms. The worst is expected on one route from Gainesville to Tampa, where INRIX predicts metro congestion on Sunday at 9 a.m. local time to be 88% higher than average.

Leave a Reply