Jul 1, 2022 - Economy

Travel nightmare looms over July 4th weekend

Illustration of the statue of liberty holding up lit batons to direct a plane

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Independence Day weekend is expected to be the second busiest for travel since 2000, with flight delays, cancelations and staffing woes.

Why it matters: It's a sign that the summer of "revenge travel" is upon us, with Americans splurging on travel and enduring delays to make up for pandemic-related cancellations.

The big picture: Airlines from coast to coast have been bracing for "operational challenges" this weekend, with some even encouraging customers to rebook their plans for another weekend.

Zoom in: Philadelphia International Airport this week saw roughly 180 delayed flights and 27 cancellations on one day alone.

Driving the news: A record number of Americans are instead planning to road trip this Independence Day, despite historically high gas prices, Axios' Kelly Tyko writes from AAA's holiday travel forecast.

  • Airline troubles could be contributing to a 0.4% increase in road-trippers.
  • But travelers aren't immune to delays on the roads, transportation departments are warning.
  • In D.C. for instance, AAA predicts that almost one million residents — about 90% of local travelers — will drive to their 4th of July destinations.
  • "There is a lot of pent-up COVID-19 demand to travel, so many people are still going to do it on the Fourth of July and this summer despite inflation and gas prices," Eric Jones, co-founder of The Vacationer, told Axios.

Be smart: Experts are asking travelers to plan ahead and be flexible on both the road or in the sky, Axios' Joann Muller reports.

  • They're also encouraging travelers going by air to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare.

Between the lines: Staying home is also always an option.

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