Jammed freeways, crowded airports, record travel misery: Happy travel for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Los Angeles International Airport was bustling and freeways leading out of town began loading up Friday as millions of Southern California residents headed out for Memorial Day weekend adventures.
According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, more than 3 million Southland residents — a record — are expected to travel during the holiday weekend period, which began Thursday and will continue through Monday. An estimated 3.03 million people in the Southland are expected to travel at least 50 miles, and 4.89 million people statewide are expected to do so.
It’s the sixth consecutive year the number of Memorial Day travelers has grown compared with the previous year, according to the Auto Club. The AAA noted that this holiday weekend will see the largest number of travelers since the all-time record of 3.2 million in the Southland and 5.18 million statewide, which was set on Memorial Day 2005.
The Auto Club noted that local gas prices are holding steady near $3 a gallon on average — the second cheapest price averages for this time of year since 2009.
Among Southern California travelers, 2.52 million are expected to travel by car — a 2.9 percent increase from last year’s 2.45 million going by motor vehicle and a number representing about 84 percent of all travelers, according to the AAA.
Another 300,000 Southland residents are expected to go by plane, which is a 6.2 percent increase over the 2016 holiday’s 282,000 air travelers. About 197,000 local travelers will take a recreational vehicle, cruise ship, bus, train or other mode of travel — a 4.9 percent increase from the 188,000 who traveled by other means in 2016.
Officials at Los Angeles International Airport urged people traveling by plane to give themselves plenty of extra time to negotiate large crowds and ensure they check ahead and know which terminal they need to reach.
Airport officials estimated that more than 895,000 passengers will pass through LAX over the Memorial Day weekend, up 5.2 percent from last year’s record of 849,000 people.
And that’ll be just the beginning of the hectic summer travel season. LAX officials forecast that a record 25.6 million passengers will use LAX over the summer, up 2.7 percent from last summer’s record 24.9 million travelers.
Friday and Monday are expected to be the busiest days of the Memorial Day weekend. For the summer, the busiest week at the airport is expected to be July 11-16, when 1.8 million passengers are expected to travel through the airport.
Airport officials recommended that travelers arrive at least two hours early for their domestic flights, and three hours in advance of international flights. The airport recently underwent a major re-shuffling of airlines, so travelers should check their boarding passes so they know the right terminal and gate number for their flights.
The top five Memorial Day destinations for Southern California travelers this year are Las Vegas, San Diego, the Grand Canyon, San Francisco and Yosemite, according to the Auto Club.
“One significant trend we are seeing this year is solid growth in the number of air travelers, which also tends to signify longer vacations that are a greater distance away from home,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel.
Statewide, about 84 percent of travelers, or 4.08 million, are expected to go by car, a 2.9 percent increase over 2016. About 485,000 statewide are projected to fly, a 6.2 percent increase from last year, and 456,000 will go by other means, a 4.9 percent increase from 2016, according to the AAA.
Nationally, travel is expected to increase by 2.7 percent compared to last year’s Memorial Day holiday, with 39.29 million travelers expected compared to 38.27 million in 2015. Car travel is expected to rise by 2.4 percent to 34.6 million, while air travel is expected to increase 5.5 percent this year to 2.9 million. Other modes of travel will increase by 2.9 percent to 1.75 million.
—City News Service