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Air quality, heavy traffic will impact Michigan travel over holiday weekend

fireworks over lake michigan
More people are traveling this holiday weekend than in recent years, despite air quality concerns. (Shutterstock)
  • Millions of people will be traveling in and out of the state for Independence Day weekend. 
  • Michigan is still under an air quality alert through Saturday and air quality is still a concern in other parts of the county.

Airports will be packed and roads will be busy as a record number of people are traveling for Independence Day weekend. 

AAA estimates that 50 million people nationwide will travel at least 50 miles this weekend, including 1.7 million people in Michigan, surpassing the 2019 record before the pandemic. 

In Michigan, over 1.5 million people are expected to travel by car and just over 71,000 by plane. 

Gas prices in the state have fluctuated over the past few days as more people are hitting the road.


The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Michigan is $3.55. It’s even cheaper in Ottawa County —$3.49 for a gallon of regular gas—where many people are heading to Holland and Grand Haven State Parks for the weekend. Campsites at those parks had been booked for months and all state parks are expected to reach over 95 percent capacity. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has urged residents to check the air quality before doing outdoor activities. An air quality advisory issued by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has been extended through July 1 due to wildfire smoke blowing from eastern Canada. 

Hospital emergency rooms have seen an increase in people complaining of breathing problems and symptoms related to asthma. Small children, older adults and people with compromised health conditions like asthma, bronchitis and lung disease are especially at risk. 

Those traveling to the east coast and parts of the south where the air quality index is still at unhealthy levels may be impacted as well. 

People can protect themselves by wearing a mask, limiting outdoor activities and using air conditioning instead of opening windows, especially for drivers traveling this weekend. 

The Transportation Security Administration estimates 2.82 million passengers will go through airport security checkpoints on Friday, the peak day for holiday travel, and 17.7 million over the next week. In 2019, 2.7 million passengers were scanned on July 7, where Independence day travel hit its peak that year. 

To ease the airport experience, the agency recommends: 

  • Enrolling in TSA PreCheck which allows travelers to get through security checkpoints faster. An application is required along with a $78 membership fee which is valid for five years. Applicants must schedule an appointment at an enrollment center to receive their known traveler number. 
  • Knowing what to pack before traveling. Most people are stopped for having food or drinks in their luggage that is prohibited. Firearms and ammunition can be carried in a checked bag if they are properly packed and declared, but cannot be packed in a carry-on bag
  • Arriving at the airport in enough time to park, take a shuttle and get through TSA. Generally, people should arrive at the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight. 

The chance of scattered thunderstorms could impact travel for people Friday evening and into the weekend. The NWS has the state under a hazardous weather outlook. It is unlikely thunderstorms could turn serve but winds could reach 25 mph. 

Travelers should check their flight status before heading to the airport. Most flights at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport  have been on time but a few have been delayed. 

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