Over half a million passengers are expected to pass through Los Angeles International Airport over the Memorial Day weekend, and millions more will hit the road for their first trip in nearly two years.
Confidence in travel is bouncing back, despite high prices at the gas pump and rising COVID-19 cases, according to the Automobile Assn. of America.
Roughly 3 million travelers will be on the move in Southern California over the holiday weekend, and 2.6 million will be traveling by car. While the number of people heading out onto the road or on a cruise this weekend is not as high as during the pre-pandemic travel season, AAA estimates nearly 40 million Americans will be traveling and 5 million will be in California. From that lot, roughly 320,000 will travel by air and 165,000 will travel by bus, train or cruise.
This Memorial Day weekend will be the first major travel event in two years for many travelers, airport employees and people in the hospitality industry.
“Have patience and be kind,” AAA spokesperson Doug Shupe said. “There’s a lot of excitement out there. People are taking their first trip in two years. It is an exciting time.”
That excitement might get a little less dull once travelers make their way to LAX.
The international airport forecasts up to 200,000 daily passengers could pass through the airport during the peak travel time over the weekend — that’s a 40% increase from last year’s holiday weekend, which averaged 69,000 passengers per day through Transportation Security Administration screening areas. LAX projects an average of 100,000 or more passengers per day, but that’s likely to peak over the weekend.
Airport officials recommend travelers to arrive early, pre-book and plan ahead.
LAX estimates an average of 84,000 vehicles will pass through the international airport between Thursday and Monday. Most garages and parking lots are expected to be full. Gas prices in the Los Angeles market remain at an all-time high, with a gallon of regular sitting at $6.09 as of Thursday, according to AAA.
Travelers will still contend with mask restrictions at LAX and other modes of travel. Some bus lines require masks for anyone over the age of 2. Over the past week, California averaged over 14,000 new COVID-19 cases and 57 new hospitalizations, according to California Department of Public Health.
Those deterrents do not seem to be hurting the travel industry much, Shupe said. Prices are going to be higher for airfare, gas and midrange hotels.