Memorial Day travel set to break 20-year record as AAA predicts jams, delays


Americans planning to travel for Memorial Day weekend are likely to run into traffic jams and other delays as the country is poised to set a 20-year travel record, according to AAA.

The organization predicts that 43.8 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles between Thursday and Monday. U.S. airports are expected to be nearly as congested as the freeways as well, with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) saying up to 3 million people might pass through airport checkpoints on Friday alone. However, as in past years, most holiday travelers are expected to travel by car. 

There will be more than 38 million of them hitting the road this weekend, according to AAA. 

The organization advises motorists hoping to avoid the worst traffic to leave metropolitan areas early Thursday and Friday and to stay off the roads between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday.

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Cars stuck in a traffic jam on the way to New York City

Americans planning to travel for Memorial Day weekend are likely to run into traffic jams and other delays as the country is poised to set a 20-year travel record, according to AAA. (Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress)

“We haven’t seen any pullback in travel since the pandemic. Year after year, we have seen these numbers continue to grow,” AAA spokesperson Aixa Diaz said. “We don’t know when it’s going to stop. There’s no sign of it yet.”

Meanwhile, the TSA predicts it will screen more than 18 million travelers and airline crew members during the seven-day stretch that begins Thursday, up 6.4% from last year. Friday is expected to be the busiest day for air travel, with nearly 3 million people passing through checkpoints. The TSA record is 2.91 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

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Military members placing flags on tombstones

Members of the Military place flags on tombstones for Memorial Day on May 25, 2023 in Arlington, Virginia. Nearly 44 million Americans are expected to travel to mark the weekend. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“We’re going to break those records this summer,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said.

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Memorial Day travelers are in for jams if they get on the road during peak hours.

The U.S. saw a huge surge in Memorial Day travel in recent years thanks to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of travelers continues to rise, however, with this year’s estimate eclipsing last year’s total by roughly 2 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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