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Memorial Day Weekend marks start of busy summer travel season

Syracuses Hancock International Airport Executive Director Jason Terreri delivers remarks on increased travel expectation ahead of Memorial Day Weekend, May 2023.

The Memorial Day holiday means the unofficial start of the summer travel season is upon us, and it’s going to be a busy one.

First for those who are driving out of town, AAA spokeswoman Valerie Puma said the cost of gas is averaging about $3.66 a gallon in central New York, down about $1.18 from what it was a year ago.

"At least in comparison to last year, it’s a whole lot lower than it was, which is benefit for drivers this year," Puma said.

Roads will be busy, with the AAA estimating 42 million people nationwide will be traveling more than 50 miles.

"In central and western New York we expect a lot of people to be going to campsites, staying mostly close to home, not driving too far and but hitting that 50 mile mark, so we’re expecting a lot of traffic with that," Puma said.

And anyone traveling to New York City, Puma said AAA expects an 87% increase in traffic congestion in and out of the city, especially Friday afternoon. Her advice for anyone heading there, leave early or late in the day.

For fliers, the big advice out of Hancock Syracuse Airport — get there at least two hours before flight time. Airport Executive Director Jason Terreri said there will be a 10% increase in air travel out of Hancock this summer breaking the 2019 record.

“The airlines have compressed their schedule. So we have 1200 seats departing before 6 a.m.," Terreri said. "So that’s why. The aircraft have gotten larger and we’re seeing more flights depart in the early hours, so you have 30 to 35% of our traffic leaving before 6 a.m."

Terreri emphasized that extra traffic means longer lines, so fliers need get to the airport at least two hours before a flight leaves. Bart Johnson, Security Director for the Department of Homeland Security in Upstate New York, said that two hours was key in Syracuse in recent days when a couple of security machines went down, and late comers missed flights,

"And if they had arrived on time, and a few people missed flight, but obviously it creates stress. But if they had arrived two hours ahead of time, it wouldn’t have been an issue, even with two machines broken down," Johnson said.

Johnson also emphasized air passengers should have everything ready to go through security, so it doesn’t delay lines.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.