Travelers to flood SFO this weekend

Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off the summer travel season, is expected to once again flood Bay Area roadways and airports, with rising gas prices expected to have only a minimal impact on travel habits.

San Francisco International Airport will be the third-busiest airport in the country through Tuesday — at least among Orbitz travelers, the Web site announced. Last year, the airport was the sixth-busiest; it was No. 7 in 2006.

San Francisco has emerged as a popular destination not just because of The City, but because of its surrounding areas such as the Napa Valley, Orbitz spokeswoman Abby Hunt said.

SFO had more than a half-million travelers last year between the Friday and Tuesday of Memorial Day weekend. Spokesman Mike McCarron said the airport expects about a 1 percent or 2 percent increase in 2008, a year in which fliers have reached their largest numbers since 2000. Last year, most flights either sold out or reached at least 90 percent capacity.

Congestion should be about normal on roadways, experts predicted. There will likely not be a huge change in the number of vacationers from last year, when just less than 5 million Californians traveled at least 50 miles from their home, AAA spokesman Michael Geeser said.

“Maybe what we’re seeing and hearing is that [Memorial Day weekend] could be the only trip of the summer,” Geeser said.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

U.S. hot spots

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the summer travel season.

Busiest U.S. airports

1. Chicago O’Hare

2. Los Angeles

3. San Francisco

4. Denver

5. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta

6. Boston Logan

Top U.S. destinations

1. Las Vegas

2. Orlando, Fla.

3. Miami

4. New York

5. Honolulu

6. San Francisco

Source: Orbitz

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