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Commuter report: What to expect during Memorial Day weekend

Veronica Brezina

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The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. Photo by Veronica Brezina

Buckle up, nearly 2.2 Floridians will be traveling during Memorial Day weekend, according to a new report from AAA.

The report states that this year’s forecast marks the second-highest single-year increase in travelers since 2010. It’s also an 8.3% increase over 2021, bringing travel volumes almost in line with 2017.

Roughly 1.96 million people are expected to take to the roads, despite the spike in gas prices, while another 181,000 are booking flights. The projected number of flyers would result in a 28% from last year — the second-largest yearly increase in more than a decade, according to AAA.

“People are more comfortable traveling now than any other time in the past two years, and travel bookings are a reflection of that. Reservations for flights, hotels, and cruises for Memorial Day weekend are twice as strong as last year’s holiday and that momentum will likely carry into the summer,” Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA, said in the report. 

The lowest airfare is roughly $184 a ticket. Saturday is the most expensive day to fly and Monday will be the least. 

AAA predicts that the nation’s top travel destination this summer will be Orlando, followed by Seattle and Miami; however, the local Tampa Bay airports are preparing for large crowds. 

The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport recommends that travelers should arrive two hours before flight departures, arrive at the gate 30 minutes before departure and to check TSA (The U.S. Transportation Security Administration) guidelines for packing bags.

PIE expects its long-term parking to reach capacity and will be directing vehicles to park in the economy lots throughout the summer. 

TSA is also warning passengers that Tampa International Airport will be busy. 

TPA expects to see between 65,000 to 70,000 passengers a day. The activity breaks down to approximately 440 operations (departures and arrivals) each day through the Memorial Day weekend, an airport spokeswoman said.

“We could surpass records on Saturday and Monday, which will be our peak days during the holiday weekend,” she said.

The busiest times of the day are usually 7-8 a.m., noon and 5 -6 p.m. TPA expects to see the majority of visitors from New York City, Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta, which are TPA’s top markets. 

Additionally, low-fare carrier Frontier Airlines (NASDAQ: ULCC) is launching its nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to Cancun International Airport (CUN) on Friday (today). 

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