Memorial Day Weekend to See Huge Travel Spike, Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels
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Stormy weather along the East Coast will contribute to a hectic holiday weekend as tens of millions of Americans travel over Memorial Day in what experts say will be one of the busiest in two decades.
"A lot of traffic coming in so I'm glad we're here early," said Beverly Bradford, a traveler catching a flight.
From L.A. to New York to Boston and cities in between, drivers are all trying to beat the rush ahead of the holiday.
"If you are not down here by 3 o'clock in the afternoon then you're going to get stuck in traffic for probably three hours or more," remarked a Bostonian commuter.
Airports and highways are expected to see pre-pandemic levels as millions set off between now and Monday.
"The volume of travel is increasing and that just means America's back and booming," said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
An estimated 37 million people are expected to drive at least 50 miles from home this weekend – 2 million more than last year this time.
AAA predicts long lines and potential disruptions at airports as TSA agents get set to screen more than 10 million flyers over the holiday weekend, a 14% increase since 2022.
"All the modes of transportation are close to 2019 or pre-pandemic numbers," said Andrew Gross, a spokesperson for AAA. "The one that is actually bigger than pre-pandemic 2019 is air travel this year."
Airlines, facing huge staff shortages and cancellations in recent times, will also have their systems tested.
"We're doing everything we can to press airlines to deliver that good service. And if there was an issue, we have your back," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said during a press conference this week.
If you think extending your stay till Tuesday will save you the traffic headache, think again.
"It looks like Tuesday afternoon is starting to become a difficult time where we are going to have higher than normal volumes. So many of the folks trying to avoid that crunch are actually too many people with the same idea," said AAA's northeast spokesperson Mark Schiedrop.
With millions set to hit the sands this weekend, a rise in shark attacks has some beach-goers worried.
In Stone Harbor, New Jersey, 15-year-old Maggie Drozdowski was bit by a shark while surfing earlier this week.
"I was in shock, I was underwater, and I tried to shake my leg as hard as I could," said Drozdowski who is now recovering at home after suffering no serious injuries.
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