MINNEAPOLIS — Long lines and traffic are nothing new when traveling on Memorial Day weekend, but officials are warning that this year could be one of the busiest since 2000.
According to a news release from the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 42 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from their homes this weekend, which is about 2.7 million more people — or a 7% increase — from last year.
“This is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” said Senior Vice President of AAA Travel Paula Twidale in a release. “More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation. This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports.”
Officials with AAA are anticipating 37.1 million people nationwide will drive to their destinations while 3.4 million people will fly. Another 1.85 million Americans will use some other form of transportation, like buses and trains.
MnDOT is encouraging drivers to check their 511 website before they hit the road.
"We have about 200 construction projects going on for MnDOT across the state. It's a lot of construction cones out there," MnDOT spokesperson Anne Meyer says.
The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) saw more than 40,000 air travelers Thursday.
Airport officials say that number is higher than their projections.
"The numbers we saw yesterday (Thursday) and today are indicating that we're at pre-pandemic levels, maybe even a little bit more," MSP spokesman Jeff Lea says.
The TSA screened more than 2.6 million travelers nationwide Thursday.
That's the highest number on that day in at least five years.
In anticipation of the busy weekend, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced a few changes to alleviate some of the congestion at airport security checks. First, the agency said kids 17 and younger can now accompany their TSA PreCheck-enrolled parents or guardians through security.
The TSA will continue to use Credential Authentication Technology (CAT), which is a new technology that aims to confirm passengers' identification and flight details without a boarding pass. Also being implemented in airports throughout the country is Computed Tomography (CT), a new tool that helps TSA officers detect threats more easily in carry-on luggage.
“TSA is ready to handle this summer’s anticipated increase in travel. Our staffing levels are better and this is largely due to better pay for all TSA employees which starts on July 1," said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a statement. "This key action, supported by the President and Congress, enables us, for the first time in TSA’s history, to pay our workforce using the same pay scale that applies to other federal employees. As expected, this has already improved our recruiting and retention rates. For passengers, this will mean better overall staffing for all of TSA’s activities that support secure and efficient travel and an improved passenger experience. Our strong partnerships with airports and airlines will ensure we are able to anticipate and respond to changes in passenger travel throughout the summer."
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