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Flight delays, cancellations and crowds made up San Diego's Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day is typically the start of the summer travel season. With pandemic restrictions easing, many are hitting the road this weekend. And, with the pent-up demand, we’ve seen unexpected delays. KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen takes a look at the holiday crowds in San Diego this weekend.

Memorial Day is typically the start of the summer travel season. And, with pandemic restrictions easing, many people hit the road on Memorial Day weekend.

But bad weather, passenger volume and staffing shortages have caused thousands of flight delays and cancellations throughout the country. At San Diego International Airport on Monday afternoon, there were more than 60 flight delays and at least three cancellations.

For travelers such as David Park, it was a big topic of conversation. He was returning to San Diego from a trip to Kansas.


"I heard there were thousands of cancellations. A lot of people were talking about it at the airport, actually, right when we landed," he said. "I had just talked to a passenger on the plane, actually, about the same thing happening to her, on her way trying to get here from Arkansas. How her flight was delayed more than four hours. So she just had to book another flight."

Passenger traffic is the highest it’s been since the pandemic, said Sabrina LoPiccolo, spokesperson for the San Diego International Airport. But it’s still down 13% from 2019, which was a peak year for travel.

“There's definitely more people traveling and again," she said. "We do anticipate more people traveling over the holiday weekend and through the summer.”

LoPiccolo said it was unlikely, but possible, that summer travel could match 2019 levels. She advised travelers to pack plenty of patience, double-check with their flights and allow for extra time because of construction at San Diego's Terminal 1.

The airport was not the only place that was crowded this weekend.


With Memorial Day being the unofficial start to summer, and a perfect day for weather, the beaches were packed.

Between Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach, San Diego Lifeguard Lt. Rick Romero said there were probably around 10,000 people at the beach.

Shelley Jordan was among those enjoying the weather and barbecuing with her family at Mission Beach. She has her go-to picnic table staked out every year and arrives early just to reserve it, though she said the crowd this year was not as big as she was expecting.

She loves being able to go to the beach on a sunny day like Monday.

"I'm grateful to be here today," Jordan said. "I'm grateful to be able to speak and tell everybody how great the weather is in San Diego to come on out and enjoy!"

Romero said lifeguards were seeing an uptick in crowds and boat traffic compared with last Memorial Day. And with schools about to be out for the summer, he is expecting another spike in the numbers of people at local beaches.

“Right now we're just seeing big crowds on weekends. Once school gets out, you'll see everyone come out all seven days a week,” he said.