Whether by Car or Plane, Expect a Busy Summer Travel Season
Two major transportation associations—each focused on a different mode of travel—say this summer is shaping up to be one of the busiest on record.
While summer doesn’t technically arrive for about another month, Memorial Day weekend is generally considered the beginning of the summer travel season—and there’s already strong evidence from the transportation industry that this year’s going to be a busy one.
Traveling by air? The aviation trade group Airlines for America (A4A) reported this week that it expects a record 257.4 million passengers to board a plane in June, July, or August—nearly 9 million more than last year. That makes 2019 the 10th straight year of growth.
But, in general, higher demand for air travel isn’t translating to higher prices. The organization notes that airfares, when inflation is accounted for, have actually gone down—currently sitting at around $350 for domestic flights. That’s a 15.9 percent decrease from 2014 and the lowest inflation-adjusted rate since A4A started tracking the numbers in 1995.
“Air travel is the nation’s safest form of transportation, and it is now more affordable than ever before,” A4A Chief Economist John Heimlich said in a news release. “U.S. carriers are making airline flights more and more accessible, so it’s no surprise that more and more Americans are flying.”
Meanwhile, for road-trippers, AAA says the summer travel season will kick off with a near-record-setting Memorial Day weekend. The group estimates that 42.75 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this weekend, the second-highest number on record and the highest in more than a decade.
“What this increase reflects is a good economy, and it also reflects that people survived a winter and a soggy spring,” said Kathleen Zinszer, AAA’s Mid-Atlantic senior specialist of public and government affairs, in comments to The Times Herald.
But don’t expect things to slow down after this weekend: AAA reported in March that nearly 100 million people are expected to take a trip this year, about half of them by car—and that’s despite the fact that an expected decrease in gas prices has yet to appear.
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