Huge increase in air travel this holiday weekend

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you are getting ready to head out the door for your holiday weekend trip, add some extra time. Despite the high gas prices, many are hitting the road — and even more than usual are flying this year.

Nearly 90,000 will hit the friendly skies this weekend. That's an increase of more than 20% compared to last year. On the other hand, the number of people driving to their destination this weekend is down about 3%. AAA leaders say, despite less travelers, things are still strong this year.

"We are seeing who is traveling different, but we are still seeing that the resiliency of the American traveler — especially on a patriotic weekend like July 4 — is still very strong," said Martha Meade for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Waiting for his flight to hit the friendly skies, Kenderick Mills realizes his trip to Jacksonville this July Fourth is cheaper in the air. "It's a little better flying instead of driving because of the gas prices."

These days, even a little better is a lot, especially with these gas prices.

This year, 15,000 or so more Virginians are flying. That's up more than 20% compared to last year.

"That's a huge increase. So, we are really seeing who is traveling differently," said Martha Meade with AAA.

She says the people with money are willing to spend. But gas prices are proving to hold some people back from hitting the road.

"That's because gas prices are up about a dollar over last year and they are having a greater impact on the lower economic bracket of society," said Meade.

Anna James is hitting the road for the holiday weekend. While she's gassing up for a trip closer to home, she sees where people like Kenderick are coming from.

"I have some friends that are going to Vegas and it was probably cheaper to go to Vegas than to drive around," said James.

Something many of us may not think of, but fliers say it's true, sometimes. "For us right now, as long as you buy your ticket in advance," said Rick Gellier.

With so many people flying, you want to make sure you give yourself some extra time and get to the airport earlier than usual.

If you decide to drive - most of the state troopers will be out in the road looking out for speeders and other violations. Also VDOT is suspending construction through the holiday weekend.

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