Memorial Day travel at RDU expected to be busiest since COVID-19 pandemic started


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — This is expected to be the busiest travel weekend since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Travelers are rolling through airports in high numbers. CBS 17 talked to travelers Friday headed to San Diego, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

“We’re anticipating it being the busiest weekend since the pandemic began more than a year ago,” said Crystal Feldman, vice president of communications for Raleigh Durham International Airport.

“People are really excited to get back up in the air, which is exciting for us to see. There are people who haven’t flown in over a year,” Feldman added.

RDU is seeing 1,400 percent more people this weekend compared to last year. However, travel is still down 40 percent from 2019 Memorial Day weekend.

“We’re really excited to see people fly again, but there are some pain points people might experience,” said Feldman.

The main ones being parking and potential lines. Thursday and Monday are expected to be the busiest at the airport.

As for those driving, Friday is expected to be the busiest on the roads.

“It hasn’t been too bad, I haven’t really noticed,” said driver Jado Austin who was driving to Georgia on Friday.

Gas prices are up $1.05 in Raleigh compared to a year ago. Prices have recently been slowly dropping here.

“Americans are getting out and about and really this Memorial Day weekend, really the first time in maybe 15 months that Americans can go places, the restrictions are far fewer, and Americans are filling their tanks up very frequently,” said Patrick De Haan, head of control and analysis for GasBuddy.

Experts credit the vaccines and the economy opening for more people taking trips.

“This is the first summer holiday really since 2019 that you have a combination of a huge list of destinations now, not having to worry about whether a bar or restaurant is open where you’re going,” said Haan.

Some tips for travelers: If you’re driving, experts recommend filling up in South Carolina if you can.
If you’re flying, remember a mask is required and try to book parking at the airport ahead of time.

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