GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly 1.7 million Michiganders are expected to hit the road and sky this holiday weekend. Staff at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport said they’re preparing to see an estimated 31,000 guests from June 30 to July 5, mirroring pre-pandemic travel numbers. 

“Despite all of the nuances of travel these days: gas prices, airline cancellations. We’re expecting to see the second biggest travel season for Michiganders since 2000, since we began tracking this data,” said Howard Hughey with AAA Michigan. “I think, anecdotally, we all know it’s probably because of that pinned-up demand due to the pandemic. Now that the world is sort of reopened, I think people more than ever have just really wanted to get out and see our great state and visit loved ones they haven’t been able to.”

Lines at the TSA checkpoint at Ford International Airport were short Friday evening but lines outside to pick up passengers and crowds of people at baggage claim were a testament to the busy holiday weekend.

“I was coming back from Ferris state, you know. Had a basketball camp to work so going back home to Rochester New York,” said Amari Lee as he prepared to board his flight. 

Lee says like many others across the nation, his flight cost a bit more than usual. He was also one of the passengers at the airport Friday whose flight was delayed.

“My flight actually just got delayed so I got to wait a little bit longer but at the end of the day if I’m getting home, I’m getting home. I’m not going to complain about it,” said Lee.

Plenty of flights have been delayed or cancelled nationwide over the 4th of July weekend. (July 1, 2022)

Passengers Jette and Andrea Hagenow, who are using the holiday weekend to travel across the world, say they ran into some issues with their flights too.

“We are living in Grand Rapids but this summer we are totally excited because we get to fly back home to Germany to visit grandparents and friends and family,” said Andrea. “Our flight was supposed to go via Paris but yesterday a friend texted me in Paris the people are going on strike so please don’t head into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

AAA says the brunt of holiday travel will be on the road. Traffic on US-131 was thick Friday afternoon as families headed north. While nearly 1.5 million people in Michigan are expected to drive to their July 4th destinations, some drivers say they opted out of car travel this year due to gas prices.

“I was thinking about traveling but the gas prices are very expensive,” said Ricardo Gbah who planned to go to Peru, Indiana. “Where I was planning to go, which is like a 5 hour drive, and it would cost me like $150 just to go and come back, so I cancelled my trip.”

AAA and the staff at Ford airport say they’re encouraging people to get to the airport early. TSA lines are expected to be busy all weekend, especially in the morning.