Due to a strengthening economy and lower gas prices, AAA is predicting a 4.7 percent increase in travel over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend (Thursday, May 21, through Monday, May 25).
Key data points:
- 37.2 million Americans will travel over the holiday, the most in 10 years
- 33 million travelers will drive, an increase of 5.3 percent over 2014
- 2.6 million will fly, up 2.5 percent over 2014
- Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are down 2 percent this year, at $222
- Average rate at a Two Diamond hotel is up 16 percent this year, at $144; Three Diamond hotels are up 7 percent, averaging $182
- Gas prices at the end of April averaged $1.11 below last year’s
- Household net worth is up 5.2 percent over 2014, due to higher real estate and equity values
For air travelers, that small increase comes on top of flights that are already running more than 80 percent full systemwide, and even more densely packed on popular routes. So the usual coping advice is more applicable than ever.
A few pointers:
- Allow plenty of time to get to the airport, especially if you plan to park at an airport lot
- Book early flights to increase the odds of being accommodated later the same day in the event of a cancellation
- Travel on off-peak days
- Avoid checking bags if possible
- To avoid the coach crush, use miles to upgrade or pay extra for Premium Economy
- Have phone numbers for your airline, hotel, rental car readily at hand
- Fully charge your smartphone before leaving home
None of the above will make holiday flying a breeze. So relax. Expect travel to be stressful. And go with the flow.
Reader Reality Check
How do you cope with holiday travel?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.