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Here’s the outlook for roads and airports in the Bay Area

Memorial Day weekend in the Bay Area could be a preview of what travel experts believe will be the busiest summer travel seasons since the start of the pandemic – locally, in California and across the states -United

“This will be one of the first Memorial Day weekends that we’ve been fully open” since before 2020, said Peter Gamez, CEO of nonprofit tourism organization Visit Oakland.

“In terms of more businesses feeling open (and) people feeling comfortable traveling,” he added.

The Memorial Day weekend travel outlook — widely seen as the kickoff to the summer season — appears to be on track to return to pre-pandemic levels in the United States, according to American Automobile. Association.

The agency predicted that air travel nationwide would rise 25% from last year, the second largest increase since 2010. Car travel is also expected to rise 4.6% from last year. last year, the AAA said.

In California, about 5 million people are expected to travel across the state — an 11% increase from last year, the AAA said. Of these, approximately 4 million had to take the road to reach their destination.

About 524,000 people are expected to travel by air and about 270,000 could take other modes of transportation, such as cruise ships, trains or buses, the AAA said.

“No matter which mode they choose, travelers should be prepared for a busy vacation weekend,” AAA officials said.

What to expect on the roads

Drivers travel to San Francisco on the Bay Bridge, seen from Treasure Island in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, July 25, 2021.

Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle

Bay Area drivers could expect to see traffic jams starting Thursday and were asked to leave early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid heavy traffic, AAA said.

In fact, Thursday between 5:45 and 7:45 p.m. on I-80 from Gilman Street in Berkeley to the Civic Center in San Francisco was expected to be one of the worst times to travel nationwide, according to data from the Inrix news company. on travel.

California Highway Patrol officials said they also expect traffic to increase “significantly” this weekend. A “maximum enforcement period” between 6:00 p.m. Friday and 11:59 p.m. Monday will be in place during which officers will patrol the roads to detect seat belt violations, reckless drivers, speeding and people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Over Memorial Day weekend last year, CHP officials said about 63% of drivers killed in car crashes were not wearing seatbelts.

“With an expectation of increased traffic over the long weekend due to various events in San Francisco and throughout the Greater Bay Area, we are asking motorists to prepare appropriately by packing extra snacks, water and lots of patience,” CHP Officer Mark Andrews said in a statement.

Gasoline prices and inflation

These holidays are likely to be tougher on travelers’ wallets than in recent years. As inflation continues to rise, Americans are paying more money for things like food, plane tickets, gasoline, and hotels. Hotel prices are up about 42% from a year ago, with the lowest average price per night between $199 and $257, AAA said.

Airfares have risen 6% over the past year, according to AAA. The association has predicted that the most expensive day to travel by plane this weekend will be Saturday, with Monday being the cheapest.

Car rental prices, however, were down 16% from a year ago, when prices spiked during pandemic reopenings as rental companies struggled to keep up with demand as they sold cars. vehicles as a cost-cutting measure. The lowest average rate this year is $100 a day, the AAA said.

Meanwhile, gas prices in the Bay Area continue to soar above the $6 mark — and while travelers may not like it, experts don’t expect these record prices discourage car travel during the holidays.

“Around $6.30 a gallon is very hard to stomach,” said Patrick De Haan, head of oil analysis for GasBuddy, adding that prices are unlikely to budge this weekend.

“But I believe a majority of Californians will likely hit the roads this weekend,” he said.

The national average price per gallon Thursday morning was $4.60, according to AAA. Meanwhile, California drivers pay an average of $6, with San Francisco being one of the most expensive cities in the country, De Haan said.

Airports and hotels

Bay Area airports are also expecting a busy weekend, which they say also marks the start of the summer travel season for the airport. About 120,000 passengers were expected to pass through San Francisco International Airport on Friday and a total of 12 million between Memorial Day and Labor Day, airport officials said in a news release. That’s about 67% of pre-pandemic levels, officials said.

At Oakland International Airport, about 137,000 passengers were expected between Friday and Monday, with those two days expected to be the busiest of the weekend, officials said.

It was recommended to reserve a parking space in advance. To do this, go here for the FSO and here to Oakland Airport.

Oakland hotels are expected to be up to 25% busier than past Memorial Day weekends, Visit Oakland’s Gamez said. He said many travelers entering Oakland would likely be from the state or the Bay Area, and many would have to travel by BART, Ferry or Amtrak.

Top destinations

Cities across the United States are expecting increased tourism this weekend, according to AAA. “A lot of large metropolitan areas are going to be pretty congested,” spokesman Aldo Vazquez said.

The No. 1 destination in the United States is expected to be Orlando, with Anaheim at No. 5 nationally and also California’s top destination, AAA said – both cities home to Disney parks. It was unclear how many Disneyland visitors were expecting this weekend; representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Jessica Flores (her) is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @jessmflores