Jul 1, 2022 - News

Prepare for an extra busy holiday travel weekend at RDU

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

This weekend is set to be the second busiest for travel since 2000 with a record number of Americans planning to hit the road, Axios' Kelly Tyko reports.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport may have its busiest weekend since before the pandemic, The News & Observer reports, with most passengers passing through Friday and Monday.

Why it matters: Pack your patience and build in extra time.

  • "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.

What's happening: The extra congestion is driven by a handful of factors, beyond people having the post-COVID travel bug:

The intrigue: The airline industry and federal government, which is responsible for air traffic control through the Federal Aviation Administration, are finger-pointing.

  • Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian sees a "stressed" air traffic control system as the leading cause of flight disruptions in the U.S., he told staff in a webinar June 29 viewed by Airline Weekly.
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who oversees the FAA, blamed airlines' downsizing, despite $54 billion in federal aid, during the pandemic. "The majority of cancellations, and the majority of delays, have nothing to do with air traffic control staffing," he told NBC Nightly News on June 28.

Worth noting: Delta, a top airline at RDU, already knows it will face "operational challenges" over the holiday weekend, and is offering travelers waivers to rebook at no charge.


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