Travel numbers climb as Americans hit the road for holiday

www.chron.com
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Americans hit the road in near-record numbers at the start of the Memorial Day weekend.
Americans hit the road in near-record numbers at the start of the Memorial Day weekend, as their eagerness to break free from coronavirus confinement overcame higher prices for flights, gasoline and hotels.

More than 1.8 million people went through U.S. airports Thursday, and the daily number was widely expected to cross 2 million at least once over the long holiday weekend, which would be the highest mark since early March 2020.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned people to expect long lines at airports and appealed for travelers to be patient.

The rise in travel appears to be fueled by an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations as well as an improving economy. The U.S. Commerce Department said consumer spending increased in April, although not as much as in March, showing how consumers are driving a recovery from last year's pandemic recession.

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At Miami International Airport, officials expected crowds equal to pre-pandemic levels. It was a similar story in Orlando, where airport traffic has reached 90% of 2019 levels as tourists flocked to theme parks that have recently loosened restrictions.

Along the Florida coasts and around Orlando, many hotels were booked solid through the weekend.

"We are going into off-season, and it has not slowed down," said Cathy Balestriere, general manager of Crane's Beach House, a boutique hotel in Delray Beach,…
DAVID KOENIG
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