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Here’s Why Memorial Day Flyers Can Expect the Worst Gridlock In Nearly Two Decades

If you’re bullish on the economy, AAA’s latest Memorial Day travel report is a good sign that Americans have fully recovered from the pandemic. 

If you’re looking for signs that the Federal Reserve‘s fiscal tightening policies are working, however, the travel report isn’t going to make you feel better. 

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But if you plan on traveling during the three day holiday weekend, expect the roads and airports to be crowded. Like, really crowded. 

More than 42 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles away from their homes during Memorial Day weekend, with AAA experts saying “this is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000 when AA started tracking holiday travel.”

“More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation. This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports,” said Paula Twidale, senior VP of AAA Travel. 

About 3.4 million travelers are expected to fly to their destinations during the holiday weekend, an 11% increase over a year ago and a 5.4% increase over 2019’s pre-pandemic levels. 

More than 37 million Americans will drive over the weekend, a 6% year over year increase that represents two million more people on the road. 

To avoid the worst of the gridlock, AAA says the best times to travel by car are Thursday before 1 PM and Friday before noon. For the return trip, the best time to travel is before 10 AM Monday and before 2 PM Tuesday (or after 6 PM).

According to AAA, nearly 88% of travelers will drive, 8% will fly, and 4.4% will take some other form of travel like bus or train to their destination. 

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