By road, rail or air, Americans were on the move this Memorial Day Weekend.
AAA predicted 37 million people planned to travel 50 miles or more this weekend; that’s up 60% from last year. Many people wanted, clearly, to break free from COVID confinement and restrictions.
Airports have been particularly busy.
Last year, Memorial Day travel was at an all time low, with only about 1.5 million people hitting the open skies. This year, TSA screened 5.2 million travelers from Friday through Sunday alone.
On Friday, considered a getaway day, 1.96 million people went through TSA checkpoints. The numbers for Memorial Day are not in yet, but it’s expected to be just as high, if not higher.
“I think people are chomping at the bit,” said Robert Sinclair, AAA’s senior manager of public affairs. “We have seen increase in rental cars and hotel reservations.”
The surge in travel comes as COVID cases reached its lowest number in more than a year. According to John’s Hopkins University, in the latest 24 hour period, the U.S. recorded 6,725 new cases. That’s a far cry from the days the U.S saw over 100,000 new daily cases.
Many people were traveling for the first time to visit family and friends they haven’t seen since before the start of the pandemic and the ensuing restrictions.
Vaccinations are also on the rise. More more than 50% of eligible Americans have received at least one shot.
For many travelers we spoke with, that was the peace of mind they needed
While COVID restrictions have loosened all across the country, masks are still required on planes and airports.
Air travel is expected to soar this summer, prompting the TSA to add 6,000 more officers.