Memorial Day air travel tops 2019 levels as consumers keep shelling out for trips

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Passengers arrive for flights at O’Hare Airport on May 25, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Memorial Day air travel surpasses pre-pandemic levels, showing how consumers continue to pay to travel regardless persistent inflation,

The agency said the Transportation Security Administration screened 97.9 million people from Friday through Monday, slightly more than the 2019 holiday weekend.

The start of the peak travel season is crucial for airlines as they test travelers’ appetite to continue paying for holidays and other travel while higher interest rates and higher food and accommodation costs put pressure on household budgets.

Last year, inclement weather as well as staff shortages and other stresses led to an increase in flight disruptions during peak periods. Airline executives are upbeat about the ability of their carriers to operate reliably this summer.

Relatively clear weather helped air travel over the weekend, and 16% of flights arrived late Friday through Monday, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware. Last year it was delayed over the holiday weekend.