July 4th weekend travel numbers expected to exceed pre-pandemic stats

U.S.

ATLANTA (NewsNation Now) — As Americans prepare for barbecues, beaches, bonfires, and a three-day weekend ahead of the Independence Day holiday, many people are heading out of town.

“There has been so much pent-up demand, and we expect that the 4th of July will be even bigger than what we saw 4th of July pre-pandemic,” said Doug Shupe, a AAA spokesperson.

AAA estimates that 47.7 million Americans are planning to travel between July 1 – July 5. The real record-breaker on the roads — 43.6 million people are expected to embark on holiday road trips. It’s a 5% jump above normal.

Top destinations this holiday weekend include Orlando, Florida and Denver, Colorado.

Americans are spending a lot of money for those vacations too; an estimated $153 billion, and they’re having to fork out extra change at the gas pumps.

“Demand for gasoline continues to go up, and very much like other industries right now that are facing labor challenges, truck drivers are hard to come by as well,” said Patrick De Haan from GasBuddy.com

The shortage of qualified truckers to transport fuel is now squeezing the supply and driving up prices.
The national average for fuel now sits at $3.12 a gallon.

At airports, the Transportation Security Administration predicts they’ll screen more than two million people at least two days during the July 1 – July 5 travel window.

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“I haven’t seen lines like this since two summers ago; it was crazy,” said Jacquelin Garland, a traveler.

As airlines scramble to keep up with the demand amid staffing shortages, there have been widespread delays and cancellations.

American Airlines is canceling about 80 flights per day through mid-July. Meanwhile, Southwest is asking its employees to pick up extra shifts over the weekend with the promise of increased overtime.

“Be prepared, expect a little bit of delay, and get to the airport two hours prior to your departure time,” said Andrew Gobeil, with the Atlanta International Airport.

Experts are also recommending travels prepare a backup plan, just incase they run into detours.

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