Gasoline Prices Hit Record High on Memorial Day, Higher Travel Numbers Still Expected

Gasoline Prices Hit Record High on Memorial Day, Higher Travel Numbers Still Expected
Gasoline prices are posted at a gas station in Washington on May 26, 2022. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)
Naveen Athrappully

Even as gas prices hit a record high on May 30, Memorial Day, Americans are still expected to travel in higher numbers when compared to last year.

The national average price of regular unleaded gas as of May 30 was $4.619 per gallon, the highest ever on record, according to data from the American Automobile Association (AAA). This is more than 10 percent higher than the $4.178 per gallon a month ago and more than 50 percent higher than $3.045 per gallon a year ago.

Regular gas prices in all states have now exceeded $4 per gallon.

In Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Hawaii, regular gas prices exceeded $5 per gallon while California registered the highest regular gas price at $6.153 per gallon.

Despite gas prices being 50 percent more expensive than last year, AAA is expecting more Memorial Day holiday travelers this time around, with 39.2 million Americans projected to travel 50 miles or more during the weekend.

This is an 8.3 percent increase over 2021 when 36.2 million people traveled away from their homes. However, the 2022 number is still lower than the 42.8 million travelers in pre-pandemic 2019.

“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel, said in a May 17 blog post.

“Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months.”

Automobile travelers are projected to increase from 33.4 million last year to 34.9 million in 2022 while air travelers rise from 2.41 to 3.01 million.

Based on AAA booking data, the top U.S. destinations were Orlando, Seattle, Miami, Las Vegas, Anaheim, and New York. The top international destinations were Vancouver, Dublin, Paris, Rome, and London.

Meanwhile, thousands of flights have been canceled on Memorial Day weekend, disrupting travel plans for many. Carriers are blaming everything from bad weather to a lack of employees for the disruptions.

Around 4,800 flights were canceled on Friday and Saturday, with 1,100 flights getting canceled on Sunday morning and 230 flights on Monday getting canceled preemptively.

“More than any time in our history, the various factors currently impacting our operation—weather and air traffic control, vendor staffing, increased COVID case rates contributing to higher-than-planned unscheduled absences in some work groups—are resulting in an operation that isn’t consistently up to the standards Delta has set for the industry in recent years,” Allison Ausband, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Delta Airline, said in an online post.

Delta Airlines canceled over 400 flights on Saturday and Sunday, with 53 more cancellations on Monday. United Airlines canceled 23 flights on Saturday while JetBlue canceled 10 flights.