Millions of Americans are getting set to travel for the Memorial Day weekend, and airports are once again bustling after the summer of 2020 took place under the spectre of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was busy Wednesday evening, with travelers looking to get a head start on the holiday weekend.
“It was definitely packed,” traveler Kristin San Ramon said. “Even United was saying it was going to be a packed flight in case you wanted to change it.”
San Ramon said that she and her husband had arrived in Chicago on Wednesday to see family members, and that they are treasuring the opportunity after the pandemic canceled so many travel plans a year ago.
“We haven’t seen our friends in a very long time,” she said. “I’m super excited to hug by nieces and nephews.”
AAA estimates that there will be at least a 60% increase in air travel compared to Memorial Day 2020, and there will be a similar increase in the number of motorists taking to the highways for their vacations.
That means that up to 37 million Americans are potentially planning on taking trips for the coming holiday.
“I’ve been trapped in for so long, and now it’s time to expand and have some fun,” Roshawn Lyles, another traveler, said.
AAA spokesperson Molly Hart says that the travel group is estimating that 1.8 million Illinois residents will hit the road this weekend, and suggests that motorists fill up before they head out.
“With the increases in travel and demand, gas prices are going to be high this weekend,” she said.
According to AAA research, the worst time for motorists to hit the road is during evening rush hour, with the time period between 2:45 and 4:45 p.m. on Thursday representing the worst possible time for a driver to leave.
For those looking to avoid the roadways and to take to the friendly skies instead, frequent flyers suggest planning accordingly.
“We have hand sanitizer in our pockets, we’re going the restroom to wash our hands. We just feel like we’ve got to be safe all the time,” Lyles said.
Air travelers are warned that some COVID protocols remain in place, and that those flying for the holiday weekend will still be required to wear masks while in airports and on planes.