AAA reported that the summer travel season started over Memorial Day weekend. Regular unleaded gasoline reached its highest ever recorded average price of $6.162 per g in California’s bustling Los Angeles County. Unleaded gasoline prices in the United States also reached an all-time high at $4.619 per gallon.
CBS News reported that, despite outrageous gas prices, “3.1 Million Southern Californians” were expected to travel the roads and skies over the extended Memorial Day Weekend.
Gas prices rose with the increase in travelers. Los Angeles saw its fifth consecutive day of rising gas prices. It reached $6.16 per gallon for the record, nearly two more than the Memorial Day record of $4.29.
A Beverly Grove gas station advertised a staggering $7.49 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. The second station in Studio City offered a shocking $7.09 per gallon of regular unleaded gas.
AAA expected “more than 39,000,000 people…to travel 50 or more miles from home” during the holiday weekend. This includes over 35 million Americans who traveled by car.
Travel is on the rise overall since the pandemic. AAA reports that “air travel continues its rebound, up 25% over 2021 and will account for 7.7% of all holiday weekend travelers, the highest share since 2011,” but gas prices have also had an impact on car travel. As airlines pay for rising fuel costs, ticket prices have risen for air travelers. According to Hopper, summer airline fares average $400 round trip. This is 24% more than the time before the pandemic and 45% more than last year.
It wasn’t easy flying. CBS News reported that many air passengers had to pay more and their flights were delayed or canceled over the weekend.
According to FlightAware, Monday’s cancellations included 1,546 flights as of Tuesday, 5:02 p.m. Eastern. This followed approximately 1,640 cancellations on Sunday and 1,500 on Saturday, respectively, and 2,300 on Friday. Nearly 400 cancellations on Monday involved planes that were scheduled to fly to or from U.S. cities.
Will the summer of 2022 be as strong as it was in 2021, despite all the travel woes and rising prices? AAA believes so, despite the fact that “economic trends influencing travel forecast include: Rising prices, the war in Ukraine, and general economic uncertainty, which led to consumer sentiment hitting an 11-year low. The GDP is expected to increase by 2.9% over a year ago, while the unemployment rate will fall to 3.6%. Although consumer sentiment is declining, consumer spending is expected to increase by more than 9% in the second quarter. However, rising prices will result in real disposable income falling 3.6% compared with a year ago.” This means that Americans are spending again but their money, like their travel plans, won’t go as far in 2022.