Everyone is ready to enjoy this summer holiday weekend with family and friends. And when we say everyone, we mean it. The AAA estimates that 42 million Americans will take road trips to celebrate this July 4th, while roughly 3.5 million will choose to fly, making this the second busiest Independence Day since 2000.
“Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of Travel at AAA. “People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to still take that much-needed vacation.”
People might be ready, but airlines may not. Two weeks ago airlines canceled over 1,200 flights and posted over 5,000 delays. “The vast majority of that is weather-related,” Curtis Blessing, spokesman for American Airlines told USA Today at the time. But that’s not the only problem, because the ongoing shortage of pilots and crew is adding pressure on an already vulnerable service.
Kit Darby, founder of Kit Darby Aviation Consulting, told CBS MoneyWatch: “We may not have seen the worst of this,” adding, “Right now when you have normal things like airplane maintenance or weather, delays are much more severely felt. There are no reserved extra pilots, planes, flight attendants — and the chain is only good as the weakest link.”
But even if you avoid planes, the road is not looking much better. The average retail cost of gas hit $5.8 on June 19, the highest average price on record and represents an increase of almost $2 per gallon from last year, so people are expected to share cars to travel.
Staying home sounds pretty good right about now.