‘Travel is stressful in general’: Nationwide delays, passenger surge expected ahead of Memorial Day weekend
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Travelers at Wichita’s Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport lined the terminal Tuesday morning, ahead of what’s expected to be a busy Memorial Day weekend for air travel.
AAA estimates over 42 million people will travel this year over Memorial Day, and over 3 million of those are expected to fly. Passengers Jonathan Goldwire said it’s his favorite time of year to take a trip.
“It was a long day,” Goldwire said. “It started in Virginia at 5:15 in the morning, and it ended here.”
Wichita airport leaders said they are expecting bookings this summer to nearly reach pre-pandemic numbers. Traffic through April is up 19% compared to last year.
“Around 6:00 AM with all those departures going out…this place gets packed,” Director of Airports Jesse Romo said. “Same thing with concourse inside.”
Goldwire said he already felt the summer rush when his airline overbooked his flight, and he had to stay an extra night.
“This is the first time this ever happened, so I was actually just kind of lowkey a little bit excited,” he said.
For those wanting to take a trip internationally, AAA Travel Advisor Matt Bert says to get ready. The U.S. Department of State is facing an “unprecedented delay” processing passports.
“Everyone that is going somewhere this summer is starting to look at it and go, ‘Oh, I need a new passport,’” Bert said. “And so, we are seeing a lot more applications.”
Bert said non-expedited passports are taking up to 13 weeks to process, not including shipping. Expedited ones are taking about two months.
“Travel is stressful in general, having to wait for a document to arrive at your door so that you can take your trip that you've been planning for a lifetime…I have gray hair, but not for that reason,” he said.
There are same-day passport vendors in the United States, but the closest to Wichita is in Dallas, and appointments are required.