Chicago's two airports are expecting to see between four to six times as many travelers this Memorial Day weekend as they did over the same time frame last year, city officials said Thursday.
The Chicago Department of Aviation released those figures based on projections from airline carriers on Thursday ahead of the long holiday weekend.
The CDA projected that O'Hare International Airport expects to see about 827,000 passengers between Thursday and Tuesday. That figure would mark a 565% increase over the same period last year, officials said.
Midway International Airport is predicted to see roughly 224,000 travelers, which would be an increase of 433%.
“As Chicago’s airports see increased numbers of passengers, there is no greater priority than providing a safe and secure environment for travelers and employees alike,” CDA Commissioner Jamie Rhee said in a statement. “We are anticipating the increases during this Memorial Day travel period and upcoming summer months, and we remind everyone that although COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed in some settings, Chicago’s airports still require face coverings.”
AAA estimates that there will be at least a 60% increase in air travel compared to Memorial Day last year, 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.
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, the worst time for Chicago area motorists to drive will be between 2:45 and 4:45 p.m. on Thursday. Regular afternoon rush hour traffic, combined with an increase in the number of travelers hitting the road, could lead to serious traffic snarls throughout the region, according to data published by AAA this week.
For those looking to avoid the roadways and to take to the friendly skies instead, frequent flyers suggest planning accordingly and staying mindful of COVID restrictions and regulations in place at airports and other travel hubs.