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Memorial Day weekend: Tips for drivers and fliers

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Drivers brace for most expensive Memorial Day gas prices recorded

Gas prices are getting more expensive, but there’s a few things you can do to save ease the pain at the pump

Memorial Day weekend – known as the unofficial start to summer – is kicking off Friday. To celebrate, droves of consumers are projected to hit the road for the three-day holiday weekend, many of whom are finally taking trips that were postponed over the past two years. 

Everything from airports, roads, restaurants to attractions will be exceptionally busy when nearly 40 million people are expected to travel, up 8.3% over 2021, according to AAA. 

Although the crowds will be inevitable, FOX Business broke down the numbers of what travelers should expect when it comes to airport crowds, gas and ticket prices, as well as peak travel times.  

MEMORIAL DAY TRAVEL: THE BEST AND WORST TIMES TO BOOK

TRAFFIC

More than 34 million people are expected to travel by car over the holiday weekend, which means roads will be congested. 

Cars driving on the highway.  (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz / Reuters Photos)

The “longest travel delays,” though, will be just ahead of the holiday weekend, according to AAA, which cited analytics firm INRIX. 

For instance, drivers could face double the drive time on Thursday and Friday afternoon, according INRIX. 

“Drivers should expect congestion on major roadways around big cities and popular destinations. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic,” INRIX transportation analyst, Bob Pishue, said. 

Here are the best and worst times to travel, according to INRIX

Thursday

  • Worst time: Between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Best time: Before 6 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

Friday 

  • Worst time: Between noon and 7 p.m.
  • Best time: Before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

Saturday 

  • Worst time: Between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Best time: Before 10 a.m.

Sunday 

  • Worst time: Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Best time: Before 10 a.m.

Monday 

  • Worst time: Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Best time: Before 11 a.m.

GAS PRICES 

The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is around $4.60. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, told FOX Business, that’s down from his original forecast of $4.65 per gallon. 

To help consumers save at the pump, De Haan said motorists should drop their speed by 5-10 mph. That small drop in speed can save 5-10% at the pump, he advised.

A customer pumps gas into their car at a gas station on May 18, 2022 in Petaluma, California. ((Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) / Getty Images)

“Going 60 mph is the “sweet spot” for most vehicles and slowing down can save the equivalent of 25-50c/gal or more,” he added. 

Consumers can shop around for lower prices with GasBuddy, however, De Haan cautioned that “prices can drop or jump by extreme amounts” when crossing state lines. For instance, prices are nearly $2 per gallon less in Arizona compared to California. 

Air Travel 

The cost of air travel has been climbing in recent months. To date, the lowest average airfare is still 6% higher compared to 2021, with tickets costing an average of $184 one way, according to AAA. While Saturday will be the most expensive day to fly, Monday will be the cheapest.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC. 17.24 +1.11 +6.88%
DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 40.84 +2.22 +5.74%
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS INC. 46.07 +2.99 +6.94%
JBLU JETBLUE AIRWAYS CORP. 10.61 +0.35 +3.41%
LUV SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. 45.11 +2.64 +6.22%

So far, three million people are expected to fly this Memorial Day weekend, AAA reported. 

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) told FOX Business that the agency is expecting 2.1 million people to pass through security checkpoints every day over the summer months. During Memorial Day weekend, “volume should be at that number or slightly higher,” the TSA said. 

The busiest times for airports can vary depending upon the airport, according to the TSA. However, for the largest airports across the country, screening lanes are typically busiest between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. as well as between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Main terminal of Denver International Airport on Aug. 24, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) (AP Photo/David Zalubowski / AP Newsroom)

TSA suggests passengers should arrive at airports between 90 minutes and two hours early before their flights in order to make it to the gate in time. If passengers haven’t done so already, they should look into TSA PreCheck. 

It’s too late to apply and be approved in time for the weekend, but the program helps passengers avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops and light jackets at security checkpoints. In April, more than 90% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes in the security line, according to TSA. 

Hotels and car rentals  

Prices for hotels have been on the rise. Even mid-range hotel rates surged 42% with the average lowest nightly rates sitting between $199 – $257, according to AAA. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
HTZ HERTZ GLOBAL 19.29 +0.46 +2.44%
MAR MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL INC. 170.17 +10.62 +6.66%
HLT HILTON WORLDWIDE HOLDINGS INC. 138.43 +6.84 +5.19%

Meanwhile, car rentals have declined in price. Daily rental rates have decreased 16% compared to 2021. To date, the lowest average rate coming in at $100 per day, according to AAA. 

According to Hopper, the cheapest areas to rent a car is Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

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