Here's when to travel for what could be busiest Memorial Day weekend in almost 20 years

Thursday, May 23, 2024
When to travel for possibly busiest Memorial Day weekend in years
Here's what Bay Area residents should know ahead of what could be the busiest Memorial Day travel season in almost 20 years.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- This could be the busiest Memorial Day travel season in almost 20 years.

AAA predicts that from Thursday through Monday, nearly 44 million people will travel, with 38 million traveling by car and 3.5 million by plane.

MORE: Memorial Day weekend travel: The busiest days to fly and drive

Air Travel

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said they expect more than 755,000 people will travel through SFO this weekend, about 8% more than last year.

"I think we continue to see a post-pandemic recovery happening, and it's already mostly happened for the domestic sector," Yakel said. "But really, what we've been seeing over the past 12 months is a very meaningful recovery in the international sector. A lot of airlines that had suspended flights during the COVID pandemic are back at SFO, especially this year."

The travel rush comes as federal data shows SFO at the bottom of on-time rankings nationally in February.

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said runway construction and weather conditions made February more delay-prone than in previous years.

MORE: Best Memorial Day sales on mattresses, appliances and more

Just two years ago, SFO had been named the top large US airport by the Wall Street Journal, taking on-time arrivals and departures into account.

AAA data shows domestic flight prices are up about 1-2% but it's not deterring people from traveling this holiday weekend.

In a statement, the Senior Vice President of AAA Travel said the large number of Memorial Day travelers signals a busy summer travel season ahead.

Sarah Kopit, Editor in Chief of the travel site Skift, said now is the time to book your summer trip if you haven't already.

"The earlier the better," she said. "We're already past that prime booking window. But I will say one tip I do have is that you know the Olympics are going to be in Paris this summer. Flights are very inexpensive right now to go to Paris directly after the games."

If you are traveling this Memorial Day weekend, Yakel said it's a good idea to get to the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.

Car Travel

If your holiday travel plans involve driving, there are some best and worst times to know about for when to leave the house.

Eastbound I-80, specifically from San Francisco to the area near Highway 37, is expected to see the most congestion in the Bay Area.

If you can, avoid the Eastshore Freeway especially Friday at 11 a.m. It will be a mess during that peak traffic period.

What would typically be about an hour drive from San Francisco to the Vallejo area is likely to take upwards of an hour and 25 minutes.

AAA is giving us the worst and best travel times over the next five days.

If you want to Thursday but you haven't taken off yet, wait until after 7 p.m.

Friday, hit the road before 11 a.m. or after 8 p.m.

And if you plan to return on Monday, avoid traveling from 3 to 7 p.m.

When it comes to road travel, AAA's outlook shows the number of drivers this year is up 4% compared to last year and 1.9% higher than pre-pandemic 2019.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here