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Memorial Day Weekend Is Expected to Break Travel Records — What to Know About Busy Airports, Weather, and More

Busiest Memorial Day weekend ever?

<p>Mariah Tyler/Travel + Leisure </p>

Mariah Tyler/Travel + Leisure

For travelers hitting the skies and roads for Memorial Day Weekend, a travel checklist should include sunscreen, a full tank of gas, an umbrella — and plenty of extra patience. 

This weekend, an estimated 42.3 million Americans are expected to take to the skies, roads, and rails for the holidays as the official start of the summer travel season kicks off, according to recent data from AAA.

“This is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” AAA Travel’s Senior Vice President Paula Twidale said in a statement. 

United Airlines tells Travel + Leisure they expect this to be the busiest Memorial Day holiday in more than a decade, with over 2.9 million people flying on the airline. United points out that new technology offerings such as the ‘Connection Saver’ which uses artificial intelligence to determine whether to hold a flight for passengers with tight connections, and a new baggage drop features are keys to help make the busy travel weekend run smoothly.

The largest low-cost carrier in the United States, Southwest Airlines, says they have been “planning for summer travel for a number of months”, and will operate 4,500 flights per day on peak days across 121 airports in 11 countries, in a statement to T+L. 

Delta Air Lines shared in a post they anticipate providing air travel for over 2.8 million passengers this weekend, and will distribute over 500,000 of the Biscoff cookies to hungry passengers. 

For as much planning as airlines and airports can do to prepare for the busy travel weekend, mother nature has a plan of her own. 

A coastal low pressure system will bring heavy rains and storms to areas throughout the Southeast, including Florida, according to Orlando, FL WESH-TV.

“Although the holiday weekend may not be completely washed out, it is important to consider the possibility of showers and thunderstorms if planning outdoor activities. In addition to rain, there will be a concern for high surf, rip currents, and coastal flooding along the beaches from the Carolinas to Georgia and Florida,” WESH shared in a recent report. 

The Orlando Airport recently published that they expect over 1 Million passengers to fly through the airport, which is 16% more than 2022’s Memorial Day Weekend. With many passengers expected to explore Orlando’s many theme parks, Walt Disney World is announcing the launch of a new Ariel character meet and greet experience in celebration of the new “The Little Mermaid” film. 

On the opposite coast, in Seattle's SeaTac airport, a reporter for KIRO Newsradio shared a video of a TSA Pre-Check Line with a one hour wait.

There are only a minor amount of delays or cancellations on upcoming flights according to FlightAware’s MiseryMap. The most impacted airports were New York’s JFK Airport, Newark Airport, Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Boston, and Atlanta at the time of this article’s publishing. 

“It's quite likely we'll see a new record set: the busiest Memorial Day travel weekend in history,” Going.com’s Founder Scott Keyes shared in a statement to T+L, “and despite the crowds, I'm cautiously optimistic we won't see a repeat of the airline disruptions that plagued Memorial Day 2022."

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