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AAA foresees huge jump in travel Memorial Day weekend

Traffic moves along Interstate 76 highway on March 31 in Philadelphia. The AAA auto club said on Tuesday that more than 37 million Americans plan to travel at least 50 miles from home over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Traffic moves along Interstate 76 highway on March 31 in Philadelphia. The AAA auto club said on Tuesday that more than 37 million Americans plan to travel at least 50 miles from home over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

U.S. highways will be far busier over the Memorial Day holiday weekend than last year, but traffic still won’t reach pre-pandemic levels, according to a forecast by the AAA auto club.

AAA officials say travel will increase because more Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19 — about one-third of U.S. adults — and consumer confidence is growing.

The auto club and insurance company said Tuesday it expects more than 37 million people to travel at least 50 miles from home during the holiday weekend, up by 60% from last year, which had the lowest such figure since AAA began keeping records in 2000.

If the AAA forecast is right, however, it would still mean 6 million people, or 13%, fewer would be traveling than left home over Memorial Day weekend in 2019.

AAA said 34 million Americans plan driving trips between May 27 and May 31. That would amount to a 52% increase from last year. Nearly 2.5 million will take plane trips, nearly six times more than did in the same period in 2020. A small number will take buses or trains.

So far in May, nearly 1.5 million people a day have gone through U.S. airport checkpoints, according to the Transportation Security Administration. AAA said its air-travel forecast seems low because it counts each traveler once, whereas TSA counts people twice if they take a round-trip flight.

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