If July 4 is a holiday for you, we hope you will enjoy it with a picnic, live music, family, and friends.
Flying for the Fourth?
If you’re flying somewhere for the July 4th holiday – or the day after – we hope your flight path is smooth.
Although, if you’ve been reading the news, you know there’s a fair chance you may get stuck at the airport. If you do, check with us and we’ll see if we can offer advice on what’s around that may make your time a bit less stressful.
As we head into July 4, San Antonio International Airport (SAT) is unveiling a 25-foot by 12-foot American flag woven out of 100 military uniforms.
The uniforms were worn in conflicts dating back to World War I. Most uniforms are donated by employees of USAA, an insurance and banking organization serving military families headquartered in San Antonio. The company is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this month.
The artwork is made by Minnesota Veteran and artist Jeffrey Stenbom. He spent more than 1,000 hours weaving together uniforms from all five branches of service for this latest, and largest, piece in his “Freedom’s Threads” series.
“Those pieces of fabric are interlinked, just like those service members are interlinked to protecting our freedoms and keeping the freedoms that we have,” Stenbom said. “Those uniforms that they wore, they bled in, that they sweated in, they cried in, it’s hard, it’s real hard.”
The flag made of military uniforms will be on display at San Antonio International Airport for around 6 months, through January 2023, and then transferred to USAA headquarters for permanent display.
During its time at the airport, the flag “has the potential to be viewed by millions,” said Stenbom. “It feels only fitting that it be displayed at the airport of Military City USA. My hope is that many travelers are able to view it. Especially active duty military members, veterans, and their families.”
The video in this tweet shows Stenbom working on the piece.
Factoids about the new Freedom’s Thread Art Piece at SAT
The finished piece weighs nearly 100 pounds.
Pieces of more than 140 different uniforms were woven into this flag.
In addition to uniforms donated by USAA employees, Stembon used uniform pieces from his grandfathers and from one of his own uniforms. He bought some uniforms online to help represent a few missing time periods.
More than 65,000 feet (over one mile) of parachute cord was used to create the loom he worked on to weave the uniforms together.
“The uniform items veterans own often end up in a box or deep in our closets and are rarely seen,” said Taylor Clark, Assistant Vice President and Executive Sponsor USAA’s 100th Anniversary. “To know that we can contribute to something so meaningful…makes it really special.”
Look for this flag at San Antonio International Airport (SAT) presecurity in the Terminal B Lobby.
Like you, airports are celebrating the freedom to travel (again) and also marking July 4th.
And we’re gathering up some of the best July 4th messages airports are sharing.
Kicking us off: the patriotic water feature show in Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport. Also: a cool mural you can watch being made at Leonardo da Vinci airport in Rome featuring some celebrity travelers. And aviation-themed matchbooks from the SFO Museum collection at San Francisco International Airport.
And these great aviation-themed matchbooks from the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
(This is a slightly different version of a story we wrote for NBC News)
Swimsuit packed? How about your patience?
If you are heading out of town for the July 4th holiday weekend, you will likely need both.
More than 47.7 million Americans will on the nation’s roadways and in the skies during this Independence Day holiday, July 1–5, says the American Automobile Association (AAA).
That will be very close to pre-pandemic levels and the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record.
In normal times holiday travel can be frustrating. But as the nation makes its way out of the pandemic, there is a lot more than usual riding on this weekend.
Road Trips Still Rule
Despite the shortage of rental cars and the highest gas prices in seven years, AAA expects more than 91% of holiday travel will be by car. An expected 43.6 million Americans will drive to their destinations, says AAA. That the highest on record for this holiday and 5% more than the previous record set in 2019.
All those cars hitting the road means congested highways.
“With travelers eager to hit the road this summer, we’re expecting nationwide traffic volumes to increase about 15% over normal this holiday weekend,” says Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst with INRIX. “Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delays.”
In addition to loading up tunes and travel apps, experts suggest holiday road trippers do a refresh on safe following distances and remember that many motor home drivers are still getting used to maneuvering their new RVs.
Advice for Air Travelers
3.5 million people are planning to fly over the July 4th holiday, and air travel volumes are expected to reach 90% of pre-pandemic levels. That is an increase of 164% compared to last year, says AAA.
Earlier this month, analysts at travel site Hopper said a good deal on domestic airfare for July 4th was around $302 round-trip and $775 round-trip for international travel, on par with 2019’s July 4th prices. Prices will, of course, spike closer to holiday weekend, when Hopper expects average domestic round-trip prices to be closer to $500.
If you do not have tickets yet and are determined to fly somewhere, Hopper economist Adit Damodaran suggests checking with low cost/budget carriers, such as Southwest and Spirit, especially on their new routes. Newcomers Breeze and Avelo, serving secondary airports, may still have good fares as well.
Getting through airports during holiday weekends was frustrating before the pandemic. This year, it could be much worse, due to a temporary shortage of TSA officers, airline staff, and airport shop and restaurants workers. Add to that new airport protocols, the rash of unruly travelers, and passengers who show up at the security checkpoint with everything from oversized liquids to guns and other prohibited items because they’re forgotten how to pack.
“The challenge will be to keep things moving smoothly,” says Sherry Stein, Head of Technology for SITA, an air transport technology company. But “mobile-enabled technology such as self-service bag tag kiosks that limit contact while improving efficiency” will help.
What about buses and trains?
AAA expects 620,000 Americans to travel by bus, train, and other modes this holiday weekend, an increase of over 72% compared to last year.
While overall ridership on Amtrak is running at about 55% of pre-pandemic levels, says Doug Duval, an Amtrak spokesman, “We are currently showing riders down 14% compared to FY19. This is trending to be the best holiday since the pandemic started.”
Bus ridership is on the rise too, says Jan Jones, program coordinator for the Hospitality and Management program at the University of New Haven.
But staffing is a problem here too. “During the pandemic, bus lines furloughed and laid off many employees, “Drivers aren’t rushing back,” says Jones, “So, July 4th travelers may be limited in terms of where they can go by bus.”
Hotels and campsites
TripIt trip planning company reports that lodging reservations are well above the reservation volume for last year, at 163% of 2020 bookings.
Many travelers have already booked their July 4th hotel stays and desirable properties in popular destinations, such as Hawaii, Florida and beach destinations in Maryland and South Carolina may already be filled up or showing high prices.
But late planners are not totally out of luck. “If you know the hotel or hotel brand you want to stay with, try their mobile apps or websites because they usually offer a best rate guarantee,” says Paul Barron, EVP Marketing, Hospitality at Amadeus. Loyalty program members booking directly on a hotel website often receive personalized offers not available on other sites, he added.
Campgrounds and RV resort operators are reporting higher than usual bookings for this July 4th holiday too. But not all spots are taken; websites for camping enthusiasts, such as CampFlorida.com, are reporting plenty of vacancies still available.
Too daunting? Ditch the drama.
While you may be itching to get back to big cities and popular tourist locales, for this July 4 holiday, “You will likely find more availability for flights and hotels or vacation rentals near smaller towns,” says Jen Moyse, Senior Director of Product for TripIt.
Or do a pivot and “don’t travel at all,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Jessica Scot, of Denver’s J. Scott Travel. “Instead, spend the long weekend penciling out your travel schedule for the future. If there is anything the pandemic taught us, it is not to wait to take that dream trip, or to visit a far-away friend or family member.”