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First Coast

Forecast: July 4th Holiday Road Travel Could Set Record

U.S. military family members arrive at Jacksonville International Airport in this file photo.
MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 2ND GARY GRANGER JR. / U.S. NAVY VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
/
U.S. military family members arrive at Jacksonville International Airport in this file photo.

AAA, the Auto Group, is predicting a record-breaking 43.6 million American road trips this holiday weekend. If the prediction holds true, it would be a 5% jump from the previous July 4th weekend record set in 2019.

In the Sunshine State, 2.4 million people are expected to hit the highways for the long weekend. That’s despite the highest Florida gas prices since 2014. On Wednesday, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in Florida was $3, according to AAA. Jacksonville remains one of the cheapest places in Florida to fill up, with the average price for a gallon of regular at $2.98.

If you’re crossing state lines, you’ll likely pay more. The national average was $3.12 at the time of this story’s publication.

AAA said air travel is expected to reach 90% of pre-pandemic levels over the holiday weekend with 3.5 million people planning to fly, which is an increase of 164% compared to last year.

The Jacksonville International Airport is expecting a big crowd.

“We’ll probably have our busiest travel day, you know, over the last year or so,” said Jacksonville International Airport spokesman Greg Willis.

Willis said the airlines have been gearing back up, noting new flights are being added out of Jacksonville to cities like Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Austin and New Orleans.

“I think people have been - you know - they've been working from home, they've been in their houses. And  they might have canceled that family vacation they had last year, haven't seen friends and family in a year,” Willis said, explaining the traveling surge he’s seeing.

“If you listen to industry experts, they say airlines can’t dump enough new service into Florida,” Willis added.

Business and international flights are still down from pre-pandemic levels, but domestic leisure travel, the kind where single-aisle planes dominate, is roaring back.

United Airlines announced this week its buying 270 new planes from Boeing and Airbus.

If you’re flying over the holiday weekend, a reminder: Masks are still required in the airport, and on the plane, with the following exceptions:

  • A child under the age of 2 years
  • A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • A person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations

Airline passengers can remove their masks while eating, drinking or taking medication. They can also remove masks if talking with someone who is hearing impaired. A mask can also be removed temporarily to verify one’s identity.
Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Photo used under Creative Commons license.