Air journey on Memorial Day tops 2019 ranges as customers spend on journey

Travelers arrive for flights at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois on May 25, 2023.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Air travel on Memorial Day topped pre-Covid pandemic levels, showing consumers continue to spend on travel despite persistent inflation.

The Transportation Security Administration checked 9.79 million people Friday through Monday, a slight increase from the 2019 holiday weekend. The total number of checks on Friday 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’ willingness to continue paying for vacations and other travel, while higher interest rates and high food and housing costs weigh on household budgets.

In the past year, poor weather, staff shortages and other pressures have led to an increase in rush-hour flight disruptions. Airline executives expressed optimism about their airlines’ ability to function reliably this summer.

Relatively clear weather favored air travel over the weekend, and according to FlightAware, a flight tracking site, 16% of Friday-Monday flights were delayed. Delays have decreased since last year’s bank holiday weekend.

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