Memorial Day weekend: 3.4 million Southern Californians will hit the road, airways
A record number of Southern Californians are expected to take to the roads and airways this Memorial Day weekend and most will be forced to grapple with high gas prices.
The Automobile Club of Southern California predicts 5.4 million travelers statewide — including 3.4 million in Southern California — will take holiday trips. That’s a 4.3% increase over last year and the eighth consecutive year Memorial Day holiday travel has grown.
The Auto Club defines a holiday trip as one at least 50 miles away from home; the Memorial Day holiday travel period runs from Thursday, May 23 through Monday, May 27.
“Southern California gas prices are at their highest levels in three years, but consumer confidence and economic growth leading into this holiday are still positive, prompting more people to plan trips,” Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring said. “And the good news for holiday travelers is that gas prices are dropping.”
Most motorists should be able to find gas prices of $3.75 a gallon or lower by shopping around, Spring said. That’s good advice because some stations are selling fuel at exorbitantly high prices.
Alhambra resident Yvette Correll and her mother are among the Southland travelers who will be paying high prices at the pump. They’re driving to Arizona to see Correll’s brother play baseball, she said.
“Gas in most places is still over $4 a gallon and we’re driving an SUV,” Correll bemoaned. “It’s a 6-cylinder and we’re renting it … so that makes the trip even more expensive.”
Crazy high prices
A Union 76 station in Pasadena posted regular octane for $4.79 a gallon Wednesday while others in Los Angeles, San Marino, Beverly Hills and Studio City matched that price.
Fortunately, prices are considerably lower at most stations.
Los Angeles County’s average on Wednesday was $4 a gallon, down 3.4 cents from a week ago but up 25 cents from last year. The county’s all-time record, in case you were wondering, was $4.71 a gallon, set in October 2012.
Orange County was close behind Wednesday with an average price of $3.98 a gallon, followed by Riverside County ($3.94 a gallon) and San Bernardino County ($3.91 a gallon).
An estimated 4.5 million travelers statewide are expected to go by car this year, a 4.1% increase over 2018. Another 550,000 are projected to fly, up 5.3% from last year, and 368,000 will go by other means, a 6% percent increase from 2018.
Where travelers are going
The top five destinations for Southland travelers, according to a survey of AAA travel agents, are listed below:
- Las Vegas
- San Diego
- Grand Canyon
- San Francisco
Airports will be buzzing
Los Angeles International Airport, the fourth busiest airport in the world, won’t release its Memorial Day travel forecast until Thursday. But if last year’s numbers are any indication, it’s going to be packed.
Last year LAX predicted that 948,000 passengers would move through the airport for the four-day period running Friday through Monday. That number will likely go up this year.
Hollywood Burbank Airport will also be buzzing, according to airport spokeswoman Lucy Burghdorf.
“It’s going to be a typical busy Memorial Day weekend,” Burghdorf said. “Our planes will be 85 percent full, and Monday will be the busiest day with travelers flying back home. We tell people to pack a little extra patience because they’re going to be flying with a lot more people.”
Nationally, 42.8 million Americans are expected to take Memorial Day weekend trips — a 3.6 percent increase over last year.