fair.png
Friday July 30th, 2021 6:16PM

Travel numbers climb as Americans hit the road for holiday

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Americans hit the road in near-record numbers at the start of the Memorial Day weekend, as their eagerness to break free from coronavirus confinement overcame higher prices for flights, gasoline and hotels.

More than 1.8 million people went through U.S. airports Thursday, and the daily number was widely expected to cross 2 million at least once over the long holiday weekend, which would be the highest mark since early March 2020.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned people to expect long lines at airports and appealed for travelers to be patient.

The rise in travel appears to be fueled by an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations as well as an improving economy. The U.S. Commerce Department said consumer spending increased in April, although not as much as in March, showing how consumers are driving a recovery from last year's pandemic recession.

At Miami International Airport, officials expected crowds equal to pre-pandemic levels. It was a similar story in Orlando, where airport traffic has reached 90% of 2019 levels as tourists flocked to theme parks that have recently loosened restrictions.

Along the Florida coasts and around Orlando, many hotels were booked solid through the weekend.

“We are going into off-season, and it has not slowed down,” said Cathy Balestriere, general manager of Crane’s Beach House, a boutique hotel in Delray Beach, Florida.

Vacation destinations like Las Vegas, Hawaii and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, were among the top destinations for holiday revelers, according to AAA. Paula Twidale, a spokeswoman for the auto club and insurer, said the pickup in travel began in April as more Americans got vaccinated and the weather improved.

“People are just excited to get out,” she said.

Memorial Day coincides with some states eliminating their remaining pandemic restrictions as the number of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths decline.

Virginia, where President Joe Biden traveled to tout his administration’s efforts to contain the virus, is easing all distancing and capacity restrictions Friday. A mask mandate in Massachusetts ends Saturday.

AAA expects a 60% jump in travel over the 2020 Memorial Day weekend, with 37 million Americans traveling at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home, most of them in cars. That's despite gasoline prices being at their highest levels in seven years: The national average is above $3 a gallon for regular.

Prices for rental cars are up sharply, too — if you can find one — after companies culled their fleets to survive last year's deep slump in travel.

“My mother-in-law called me on a vacation and said, ‘Hey, can you get me a rental car?’ I said, ‘No,’" said Jordan Staab, president of SmarterTravel Media. “Demand is up 500% since January, and it’s tough to get a rental car right now, so plan ahead as much as you possibly can.”

Hotels and other lodging in beach and mountain areas are expecting bigger crowds than those in cities. Lou Carrier, the president of Distinctive Hospitality Group, said the company's two hotels in tourist towns in Connecticut have seen a jump in bookings since the state loosened its mask requirements two weeks ago, but occupancy is still only around 20% at its three hotels in Boston.

Hotel room rates nationally jumped 9% in April after an 8% rise in March, and airfares soared 10% in April, according to the latest available figures from the Commerce Department.

That's not stopping people from getting on planes. The Transportation Security Administration has screened nearly 1.6 million people a day this month, up from 224,000 a day in May 2020 but still down one-third from the same time in 2019. TSA officials said this week they have hired enough new screeners to handle the crowds.

Most of those travelers are taking vacations or visiting family and friends in the United States. Airline executives say domestic leisure travel is back to pre-pandemic levels. Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein said this week that bookings are now running ahead of the 2019 pace.

Business travelers and international visitors are still mostly absent, however, and airlines are eager to see that lucrative business return.

___

Associated Press writers John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit; and Martin Crutsinger in Washington contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Health, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Travel numbers climb as Americans hit the road for holiday
It's going to be crowded at airports and on the road this Memorial Day weekend
11:53AM ( 4 minutes ago )
3 officers face arraignment in Black man's restraint death
Three Washington state police officers are due in court Friday to face charges in the restraint death of a Black man who repeatedly told them he couldn't breathe
11:30AM ( 27 minutes ago )
The Latest: Britain OKs use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine
The U.K. has authorized for use another coronavirus vaccine amid growing concerns about a rise in new infections as the variant of the virus first identified in India spreads around the country
11:03AM ( 54 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Belarus' leader seeks Russia's support amid showdown with EU
Belarus’ authoritarian leader is discussing closer economic ties with Russia, as he seeks support from his main backer amid a bruising showdown with the European Union over the forced diversion of a passenger jet to arrest a dissident journalist
11:22AM ( 35 minutes ago )
Tour, players react to Osaka: Talking to media part of job
Naomi Osaka’s declaration that she won’t participate in news conferences during the French Open is a natural topic for discussion on tournament media day in Paris
11:15AM ( 43 minutes ago )
Wealth prevails as Chelsea, Man City contest European final
Chelsea and Manchester City will contest an all-English Champions League final in Porto
11:13AM ( 44 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Malaysia imposes near-total lockdown after virus cases soar
Malaysia’s prime minister says a near-total coronavirus lockdown will be imposed in the country, with social and economic activities to be halted for two weeks to contain a worsening outbreak
10:27AM ( 1 hour ago )
Microsoft: SolarWinds hackers target 150 orgs with phishing
Microsoft says the state-backed Russian cyber spies behind the SolarWinds hacking campaign launched a targeted spear-phishing assault on U.S. and foreign government agencies and think tanks this week
10:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Japan extends virus emergency with safe Olympics at stake
Japan has extended a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas for 20 more days, with infections still not slowing as it prepares to host the Olympics in just over 50 days
10:19AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Female CEOs saw ranks dwindle in 2020; median pay fell 2%
Most of the women running the biggest U.S. companies saw their pay increase last year, even as the pandemic hammered the economy and many of their businesses
9:00AM ( 2 hours ago )
CEO pay rises to $12.7M even as pandemic ravages economy
The pandemic crushed the economy, but it was no match for CEO pay, which rose again last year
8:52AM ( 3 hours ago )
Many women CEOs saw raises last year, but ranks remain thin
Most of the women running the biggest U.S. companies saw their pay increase last year, even as the pandemic hammered the economy and many of their businesses
8:23AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
US consumers boosted spending by a slight 0.5% in April
Americans increased their spending by 0.5% in April, a slowdown after a massive gain in March which had been powered by distribution of billions of dollars in individual stimulus checks
8:38AM ( 3 hours ago )
Stocks rise as the economy shows more signs of improvement
Asian shares are higher, powered by encouraging signs that the U.S. economy is recovering from the pandemic
12:32AM ( 11 hours ago )
Social spending, business tax hike drive $6T Biden budget
President Joe Biden’s $6 trillion budget proposal for next year would run a $1.8 trillion federal government deficit despite a raft of new tax increases on corporations and high-income people designed to pay for his ambitious spending plans
12:09AM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
3 officers face arraignment in Black man's restraint death
Three Washington state police officers are due in court Friday to face charges in the restraint death of a Black man who repeatedly told them he couldn't breathe
11:30AM ( 27 minutes ago )
The Latest: Britain OKs use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine
The U.K. has authorized for use another coronavirus vaccine amid growing concerns about a rise in new infections as the variant of the virus first identified in India spreads around the country
11:03AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Party of 4? Your trail is ready. Busy parks try reservations
Hikers catching the view from Indian Head in the Adirondacks come with packs, water, good boots and a new must-have item: advanced reservations
10:10AM ( 1 hour ago )
Enbridge's Line 3 oil pipeline enters critical month in June
June will be a critical month for Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 crude oil pipeline as the company resumes construction and opponents mobilize for large-scale protests and civil disobedience
10:04AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Britain OKs use of J&J vaccine
The U.K. has authorized for use another coronavirus vaccine amid growing concerns about a rise in new infections as the variant of the virus first identified in India spreads around the country
9:52AM ( 2 hours ago )