Scattered Clouds 31° Good Evening
Scattered Clouds 31° Good Evening

AAA: Near-record 38M to get away for Memorial Day weekend

AAA is predicting that 38 million Americans will

AAA is predicting that 38 million Americans will travel between Thursday and Monday, an increase of 700,000 from last year. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Officials are predicting an increase in travel this Memorial Day weekend by a near-record number of Americans, and Long Islanders who opt to stay close to home at least can expect moderately good weather.

There may be some rain Friday — and maybe Sunday night — but it should be a mix of sun and clouds during day through the three-day weekend, the National Weather Service said.

AAA is predicting that 38 million Americans will travel between Thursday and Monday, an increase of 700,000 from last year. That would be the second-highest Memorial Day travel volume on record and the most since 2005, AAA said.

Most of them, about 34 million or 2.1 percent more than last year, will drive, and AAA said relatively low gasoline prices are responsible for the uptick.

“In the last month, Americans have been hitting the road at record levels with the number of miles driven usually seen during mid-August,” AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair said. The price of a gallon of gas averages $2.10 nationally, down by 47 cents from a year ago, he said.

The average price for regular gas on Long Island has fallen from a recent peak of $4.036 a gallon on July 2, 2014, to $2.426 last week, according to AAA.

While airlines are a small percent of overall trips, they might account for a disproportionate number of travel headaches heading into this weekend, the traditional start of the summer travel season.

Long security lines at airports have caused outrage among passengers, and in preparation for the holiday weekend the Transportation Security Administration renews its recommendation that passengers arrive two hours before takeoff for domestic flights, and three hours for international flights.

Some airlines and private companies that operate terminals have increased their own staffs in recent days in an effort to help travelers navigate the security system. Those workers alert passengers to have identification ready, to be ready to put keys and metal objects in security bins and to answer questions.

The TSA administrator admitted in testimony before Congress on Wednesday that it could be a turbulent summer for the industry and the travelers it serves.

“We have a challenge this summer, which we are aggressively meeting head-on,” Administrator Peter Neffenger told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday. The TSA said it has plans to accelerate the hiring of more than 700 screeners by advancing their start date to mid-June from September.

The agency said it has 36,263 full-time and 9,822 part-time officers.

About 1.7 million passengers are expected to flow through the three main New York City-area airports — Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty — during the weekend, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

That would be a 3.8 percent increase over last year, the agency said, and it planned to have about 350 customer care workers on hand to handle the flow.

The authority is among a number of airport operators who have recently raised the possibility of hiring private security screeners in place of the TSA.

The Port Authority and the New York State Department of Transportation said all nonemergency road construction projects would be halted for the holiday weekend.

News Photos and Videos