Logan International Airport

Busy Summer Travel Season Kicks Off Memorial Day Weekend

Experts say there are things you can do to make your trip smoother this summer

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Memorial Day weekend is expected to kick off a busy summer travel season as the industry continues to recover from the pandemic.

Traveling by air

The TSA has screened more than 70,000 passengers per day at Logan International Airport over the last few days. Dan Velez of TSA New England said those are numbers they haven't seen much in the last few years. Anything over 60,000 is considered busy.

"Now we’re starting to hit 70,000 , so we can expect to see that 70,000 number quite a bit throughout the summer," he said.

If you're planning to fly, you may want to give yourself some extra time —arrive at least two hours early at the airport, and make that three hours early for an international flight.

For people who still need to book a summer flight, try to find one that's first thing in the morning since those are less likely to get delayed.

This is good news for travelers, but the reality is this could take months or even years to be put into place. This is really just a first step.

In terms of delays or cancellations, AAA says weather is not the fault of the airline, so travelers are responsible for rebooking. If it's a mechanical issue, or something similar, then the airline would be responsible for rebooking.

AAA estimates more than 42 million people will travel 50 miles or more this weekend, a 7% jump over last year. Of those, 3.4 million are expected to fly, an 11% increase over 2022. It's expected to be the busiest time for airports since 2005.

According to the travel website Hopper, domestic airline tickets have gone down a bit, and are on average about $273. International tickets are a different story, though, since fares are up 50% from last year. That means flying internationally is the most expensive in more than five years.

Traveling by car

If you have plans to drive to your summer destination, you'll have a lot of company. AAA says more than 37 million people will be on the roads. And the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend will be a major day on the roads — projected to be 6% busier than last year.

In Massachusetts, over 900,000 people are expected drive to their holiday destination.

AAA found that many people are heading North to places like the South Coast of Maine and the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

The stretch of Route 3 to Route 6 is going to be very busy with thousands of people flocking to the Cape.

Your car will be working extra hard this weekend -- don’t neglect it!

“It's really important before you head out to just go over your vehicle, make sure it's up to date with maintenance. Make sure you've had your oil changed recently. Check those tires, make sure your tire pressures are balanced and in good shape,” said Mark Schieldrop of AA Northeast. “Try not to speed, slow down, enjoy the ride, give yourself way more time than you think you need. So that way we do encounter a backup, you're not stressed out about it.”

It’s also a good time to remove all the winter gear that’s sitting in your car.

Switch out the ice scraper for a beach umbrella - lightening the load can help your fuel economy. 

And remember to fill up your gas tank. Gas can be more expensive on the road at service plazas. Apps like gas-buddy can help you shop around for the best prices.

It’s also a good time to check your EZ-pass account to make sure it’s loaded.

You may want to set up auto-replenish if you’re traveling on toll roads.  That will load money when your account has a low balance. 

Drivers were warned on Thursday to prepare for the traffic.

Secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Gina Fiandaca, said in part:

“As travel increases in the coming summer months, we encourage all members of the public to plan ahead, use technology tools to determine when to take trips, and obey all traffic laws when driving, including, drive sober, drive hands-free, wear a seatbelt, and travel the speed limit or slower. “

The best time to leave by car will be in the morning or after 6 p.m.

At the onset of the holiday weekend, heavy traffic is expected.

Traveling by ferry

On Thursday, traffic started to pick up heading toward the Cape and Islands as drivers tried to beat the crowds.

“We just wanted to get up on Thursday to beat Friday traffic,” said Grace Klein, a Connecticut resident catching a ferry at the Steamship Authority terminal in Woods Hole.

General Manager of the Steamship Authority, Bob Davis, said over the next five days he expects their service to carry roughly 15,000 passengers per day.

“We’re seeing strong demand for vehicle reservations going to the island,” he said, explaining that reservations were almost fully booked.

Davis added that the Authority is running one less high-speed ferry to Nantucket this year due to staffing shortages.

“The biggest issue we have is with our licensed deck officers group, and that takes years for people – for sea time and training - for people to get to those positions.”

He added that 10 people were in training for the position.

Nantucket Island also began to brace for an influx of people for Figawi, an annual sailing regatta from Hyannis to the Island.

CapeFLYER, a summer weekend passenger train, is set to resume service for the season on Friday, May 26th.

You'll want to build in extra travel time and look for flexibility when booking in case you encounter issues.

Some good news - hotel prices in the United States are down from 2022, as are car rentals.

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