LAX traffic
Traffic congestion at LAX. MNLA photo by Clancy O'Dessky

Southland freeways and airports will be getting a lot busier starting Thursday, as the holiday getaway begins for millions of residents traveling for the Fourth of July weekend.

The Automobile Club of Southern California estimates that nearly 3.3 million SoCal residents will be traveling for the holiday, the third-highest number for a Fourth of July holiday, behind only 2019 and 2018.

According to the Auto Club, 2.7 million Southern Californians will drive to their destinations for the long weekend, while 426,000 will fly. About 168,000 will travel by other means, such as bus, train or cruise ship.

Los Angeles International Airport officials said they expect to see as many as 115,000 departing passengers passing through the airport each day Thursday through Saturday, and again next Tuesday and Wednesday. As many as 90,000 departing passengers are anticipated on Sunday and Monday.

“We expect the Independence Day holiday weekend to be the busiest we’ve had in more than two years, and we want to make sure our guests know about the tools available that can make every part of their journey easier and faster,” Justin Erbacci, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, said in a statement. “Spending just a few minutes online to check traffic conditions, pre-book parking and review any recent communications from your airline can ensure you have a great start or end to your summer vacation.”

Airport officials urged travelers to arrive early and check traffic conditions in the terminal area using the Twitter site @FlyLAXstats. Travelers were also urged to book airport parking in advance at parking.flylax.com.

Across the country, 48 million people are expected to be traveling for the holiday, according to the Auto Club, with the vast majority reaching their destination by driving — despite near-record-high gas prices.

The top destinations for Southern California residents are expected to be Las Vegas, San Diego, the Grand Canyon, Mexico and Yosemite.

Some people are also likely to be traveling overseas.

“We expect that the recent lifting of the COVID testing requirement for air passengers re-entering the U.S. will continue the increase in demand for international vacation bookings that we are already seeing this summer,” Heather Felix, the Auto Club’s vice president of travel products and services, said in a statement.

For people driving, the transportation-analytics firm INRIX recommended that motorists avoid driving on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons, which are expected to be the busiest travel times, with the 5, 10, 405 and 57 freeways anticipated to be the most congested. INRIX recommended that people do their driving early in the morning.

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