SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Despite record-high gas prices and soaring airfare prices, millions of Americans are expected to travel over the Memorial Day weekend.
Around 32.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this weekend, an increase of 8.3% over 2021, according to AAA figures.
“If we look at both arriving and departing, we’re probably going to see about 125,000 in and out on any of these given days leading up to the Memorial Day holiday,” said Doug Yakel, a spokesperson for the San Francisco International Airport. “Everything that we’re seeing indicates that demand remains strong, even as prices are going up. I think it’s kind of, understood.”
Malcom Leverett flew from Philadelphia to San Francisco on Wednesday, in the hopes of beating the travel rush, and still paid way more for his ticket than he had before.
“I left on a Wednesday because it was the most affordable ticket, probably,” he said. “Today’s ticket was upwards of $700. Yeah. It’s expensive for a round trip ticket across the country these days.”
However, the price tag wasn’t going to change his holiday weekend plans.
“It’s worth it in my mind, but yeah, it’s definitely more expensive than it has been in the past,” Leverett said.
Airline fares increased by 18.6% in April, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some travel experts say the soaring price of airfare may cause some travelers to opt to drive to their destinations, despite the incredibly high gas prices.
“For a family of 4, if all of a sudden, your $93 ticket went to $400, that’s a $1600 ticket for the family. That’s a tipping point, so they’re going to be in the car,” said CBS News Senior Travel Advisor Peter Greenberg. “They’ll cram everybody in the car – they’ll strap granny onto the roof and they’ll go – even if gas prices go up to about $12 a gallon. If you do the cost comparison, it’s still an economically viable alternative.”
However, some people, like San Mateo resident Nicole Isaacson, have opted to stay home for the weekend and save a few bucks.
“I guess a mixture of gas prices, airline prices, and none of my friends are traveling, either, so I think that plays a role as well,” Isaacson said. “The stock market is also crashing, so everyone is also looking at their net worth and they’re like, ahh, maybe I should store a little extra money in my savings instead of shelling out for a vacation over the long weekend.”
For those who are traveling this weekend, Yakel says make sure to budget extra time.
“We’re seeing an airport that really reminds us of what we would call pre-pandemic. We’re back to those levels where you’re seeing lines at security checkpoints and ticket counters, which is why we’re recommending give yourself enough time,” Yakel said. “This Thursday and Friday will really be the peak days for departing flights out of SFO. That Sunday night and Monday morning of the holiday is when we’ll really see people coming back to the Bay Area.”