Memorial Day travel: The best and worst times to book

Reservations for Memorial Day travel – from flights and car rentals to cruises and hotels – have surged 122% over 2021, even with inflation rising at its fastest pace in more than 40 years, according to AAA. 

The figures underscore that people are itching to travel as the official start to summer approaches.  

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
HTZ HERTZ GLOBAL 22.89 +0.01 +0.06%
CCL CARNIVAL CORP. 19.51 -0.11 -0.56%
RCL ROYAL CARIBBEAN GROUP 83.40 -0.95 -1.13%

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“Despite inflation and higher gas prices, people want to travel, and we believe they will find ways to do so without breaking their budget,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a statement. 

To help travelers, AAA broke down the best and worst times to purchase airline tickets ahead of the holiday weekend. 

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AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC. 20.22 +0.74 +3.80%
JBLU JETBLUE AIRWAYS CORP. 13.53 +0.48 +3.68%
DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 44.73 +1.19 +2.73%
LUV SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. 48.38 +1.05 +2.22%

According to AAA booking data, the best time to nab airline seats is roughly two weeks out from the holiday weekend. During that time, travelers will spend an average of $445 per ticket, according to AAA. 

Salt Lake City airport

Passengers walk through Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City Oct. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer / AP Newsroom)

Comparatively, seats booked between 28 and 60 days out will cost an average of $470 per ticket. 

The best time to book is either on a Sunday or Friday, with the average price of airfare costing $543 and $596 per ticket, respectively.  

Travelers hoping to nab a last-minute deal, however, will be out of luck, according to AAA. For instance, booking the week before the holiday will cost an average of $845 per flight.  

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The most expensive day to fly over Memorial Day weekend is Saturday, according to AAA. 

Overall, though, the average airfare for each day over the entire holiday weekend, from Friday to Monday, will cost $160 more compared to last year. 

Top five destinations for the holiday weekend: AAA 

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Seattle, Washington
  3. Miami, Florida
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada
  5. Anchorage, Alaska

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