Memorial Day air travel tops 2019 levels as consumers keep shelling out for trips

Travelers arrive for flights at O’Hare Airport on May 25, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

Memorial Day air travel surpassed pre-pandemic levels, showing how consumers continue to shell out for trips despite persistent inflation.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 9.79 million people from Friday through Monday, up slightly from the holiday weekend in 2019. Friday’s screening total of more than 2.7 million people was a post-pandemic record, the agency said.

The start of the peak travel season is crucial for airlines as they test travelers’ appetite to continue paying for vacations and other trips while higher interest rates and lofty food and housing costs weigh on household budgets.

Last year, bad weather coupled with staffing shortages and other strains led to an increase in flight disruptions over the peak period. Airline executives have been upbeat about their carriers’ ability to operate reliably this summer.

Relatively clear weather helped air travel over the weekend, and 16% of flights arrived late from Friday through Monday, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking site. Delays fell from the holiday weekend last year.

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