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Busy roads and busy airport terminals expected for the July 4 holiday

The Auto Club predicts 5.4 million Southern Californians will travel for Independence Day. KPBS reporter Melissa Mae reports that both the roads and San Diego International Airport are expected to be packed with travelers.

The Auto Club of Southern California predicts 5.4 million Southern Californians will travel for Independence Day. Crowds on the road and at the San Diego International Airport are expected to be the largest since 2019.

Why it matters

The San Diego Tourism Authority expects the city to benefit from the increased travel. In a statement to KPBS they said:

“The AAA forecast for Fourth of July travel shows a record year in 2024. Given San Diego’s status as a national and global destination, we expect to see a good piece of that record-setting travel. Even amid inflation, consumers have reprioritized travel as a necessity rather than a luxury since the pandemic and are making room in their finances for travel."


By the numbers

Anlleyn Venegas with the Auto Club said about 80% of the holiday travelers are driving to their destinations.

"We do believe that it's going to be more than 4 million Southern Californians are going to be driving to their destinations. This is a 4.6% increase from last year, a 6% increase from 2019," Venegas said.  

Airline passengers can expect pre-pandemic crowds at the San Diego International Airport, starting June 28 through July 7.

Nicole Hall is the airport’s spokeswoman and said the airport will be extra busy starting June 28 through July 7.

"What we're seeing now is about a 5 to 7% increase versus last year, and about a 3 to 5% increase compared to 2019 numbers," Hall said. "We anticipate seeing as many as 780,000 people coming through the airport. So we really encourage people to plan ahead and give themselves enough time to get to the airport and get to their gate." 


That breaks down to about 78,000 people a day over ten days!

Closer look

Although the roads might be busy, Venegas has some good news for drivers.

"Gas prices are going to be slightly lower in Southern California than this time last year in most locations and this is after two straight months of price drops," Venegas said.  

Looking ahead

Whether you are flying or driving to your destinations for the Fourth of July holiday, expect the busiest travel days to be the Sundays before and after July 4.