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Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Many summer travelers may wish they stayed home.

Why it matters: Travel is returning to pre-pandemic levels at a time when the country remains divided on masks and vaccinations — and worker shortages mean reduced service levels, yet higher prices.

By the numbers: More than 37 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more this Memorial Day weekend (6 million fewer than in 2019), according to AAA.

  • Of those, 34 million are planning road trips.
  • Airfares are going up steadily around 12%, according to TripActions.
  • Hotel occupancy is at 60% with weekly room demand at 80% or more of 2019 levels. Daily rates are down 15% compared to 2019 but growing.
  • Gas prices have exceeded $4 west of Colorado, with the national average now $3.04 a gallon, according to AAA.

What they're saying: Because parts of Europe are still closed off to travelers, summer travel this year will be domestic — meaning travelers should also expect culture clashes, The Points Guy founder Brian Kelly tells Axios.

  • For the better part of a year, people have remained in communities that shared the same beliefs when it comes to COVID precautions and vaccines. Now, with massive domestic travel, "you have anti-maskers on planes with those who are petrified," Kelly says.
  • "I thought people would savor travel and be kind to one another, but unfortunately due to the fact that we’re living in two Americas ... it's only going to get worse," he added.

What to watch: Expect jammed roadways, full planes, long TSA lines, slower room service, and some unruly passengers.

Go deeper

3,000 unruly passenger reports made to FAA this year

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Airlines have reported some 3,000 cases of unruly behavior by passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration this year — including 2,300 for refusing to comply with face mask mandates, the FAA announced Monday.

Why it matters: Passenger numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels. But the FAA is investigating the highest number of suspected federal law violations since it began recording unruly passenger incidents in 1995, per ABC News.

Cashier killed after face mask policy dispute in Georgia grocery store

An Atlanta area grocery store cashier was killed and three other people were injured in a shooting following a dispute over a face mask policy in the supermarket Monday, police said.

Driving the news: DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox said during a news conference that the female cashier was working at the Big Bear Supermarket in Decatur when she was shot following a "confrontation" over the wearing of masks.

House panel to investigate Trump-era DOJ data seizures

Photo: James Devaney via Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee will launch a formal probe into the Trump-era Justice Department's seizure of data from devices belonging to members of Congress, their aides, journalists and then-White House counsel, panel chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced Monday.

Why it matters: Though it's so far unclear if the cases are related, they raise "serious constitutional and separation of power concerns," Nadler said in a statement.

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