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Memorial Day weekend travel: The busiest days to fly and drive

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(NEW YORK) — A record-breaking number of travelers are expected to hit the road and take to the skies this Memorial Day weekend.

Whether you’re headed to the beach or to check out a new city, here’s what you need to know:

The skies: The busiest days to fly

AAA data predicts 3.51 million people will travel by plane over the holiday weekend. This is a 4.8% jump from last year and marks the busiest Memorial Day weekend at U.S. airports since 2005.

United Airlines forecasts 2024 will be its busiest Memorial Day weekend ever, with over three million passengers expected to fly between Thursday, May 23, and Tuesday, May 28. United said May 23 will be its most crowded day, with nearly 520,000 passengers.

Delta expects nearly three million customers to fly during the Memorial Day period, from May 23 to May 27. The airline said this is a 5% increase from last year.

The busiest days to fly will be May 23, Friday, May 24, and Memorial Day itself, Monday, May 27, according to Hopper data.

The most packed airports are expected to be Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Denver International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, Hopper said.

According to AAA, the top domestic destinations are: Orlando, Florida; Seattle; New York City; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Denver; Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Miami; and Boston.

The roads: The best times to drive to avoid traffic

A record high of 38.4 million people are expected to travel by car over Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA. This is a 4% increase from last year.

Drivers heading out the door on May 23 or May 24 should leave before 11 a.m. or wait until the evening to avoid the worst traffic, according to transportation analytics company INRIX.

When you’re driving home from vacation on May 26 or May 27, the worst time to be on the road is from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., INRIX said.

The cities with the highest rental car demands are Orlando, Denver, Atlanta, Boston and Las Vegas, according to Hertz.

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