San Antonio/ Transportation & Infrastructure
AI Assisted Icon
Published on May 23, 2024
Houston Airports Gear Up for Record Memorial Day Crowds, United Bolsters Flight Schedule Amid Travel SurgeSource: Unsplash/ Artturi Jalli

Brace yourself for chaos on wings and wheels this Memorial Day weekend. The great American skies and highways are set to be stormed by record numbers as the travel industry prepares for its busiest surge in nearly a decade and a half. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, as FOX San Antonio reported, we're looking at the most heavily trafficked Memorial Day weekend since 2010.

Houstonians, still reeling from last week's derecho, are showing no signs of slowing down — defying fatigue and crowds for a slice of temporary paradise. "I think passengers want to go where they want to go, when they want to go there," Phil Griffith, United Airlines' vice president for its Houston hub, told Houston Chronicle. United Airlines is pumping up its schedule to nearly 500 flights a day from George Bush Intercontinental Airport from Thursday through Tuesday, a 9% increase to cater to over 3 million travelers flying the airline nationally during this period.

Years after the pandemic clipped the wings of many would-be travelers, it seems the American spirit for exploration has recovered robustly, meeting, if not exceeding the pre-2020 standards. In terms of numbers, the Houston Airport System expects about 1.3 million wanderers through George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby Airports during the holiday week, up by 4% from the previous year. With construction mazes also a concern at IAH, travelers are advised to book their parking spots sooner rather than later, and to hit the airports at least three hours before domestic flight departures, ensuring they're not caught off guard.

Not to be left behind, road-trippers are shifting gears for holiday escapades, with AAA projections indicating that more than 38 million people will take to the roads. This is slated to be the highest headcount since the organization began tracking data in 2000, despite gas prices hovering below the $3 mark in Houston as of Wednesday, according to GasBuddy. Plan ahead, and leave early — this seems to be the chorus echoed by all travel experts in anticipation of the inevitable tangles on the way to those airport gates or down the highways.

"We can’t control the weather. Construction challenges can sometimes be difficult to control," Griffith mentioned. "But you can control when you get to the airport," he said, prescribing punctuality as the remedy for a dose of holiday travel hassle.