(CBS Newspath) – The pandemic put Independence Day celebrations and travel on hold in 2020. But this year, AAA expects the number of people traveling to return to pre-pandemic levels.
AAA predicts 3.5 million people will fly during the holiday weekend. That’s a 164 percent increase over last year. That will put added stress on TSA security lines that are already short on workers. Airlines are also dealing with staffing issues. Last week American Airlines announced it would have to cancel up to 80 flights a day through mid-July.
Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst with Atmosphere Research Group, says, “The airlines, airports, and the TSA I think were all surprised by how quickly travel has rebounded.”
Airports are expecting passenger numbers to reach levels not seen since the pandemic started, but the vast majority of Americans will reach their destinations by car.
43.6 million people are planning to hit the road, that’s a July 4th holiday record. Drivers may get sticker shock at the pump. “Gas prices are at their most expensive since 2014, so the most expensive prices in seven years,” says Jeanette McGee with AAA. She says the national average for gas is up 90 cents a gallon compared to July 4th last year.
“What a difference a year makes, right. We are seeing high travel volumes for the 4th of July holiday, but just high traffic volumes in general, people are getting back to the roads and traveling more,” McGee says.
She predicts gas is only going higher, possibly another 10 to 20 cents by the end of August.
AAA says the top Independence Day travel destinations are Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California, which both have Disney resorts. Denver, Colorado comes in at number three.