US Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg visits O'Hare Airport ahead of busy Labor Day travel weekend

Busy holiday weekend ahead in Chicago

Saturday, September 2, 2023
Sec. Buttigieg visits O'Hare head of busy holiday travel weekend
U.S. Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg visited Chicago O'Hare Airport ahead of a busy Labor Day Weekend.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- O'Hare Airport has been pretty busy on Friday, with travelers getting ready to fly ahead of the holiday weekend.

Some are going to see family, and others are heading overseas. But, all of them said the same thing: "Get here early, and be patient."

LaDonna Stephens and her husband, Andre, have been getting ready to celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary.

"We are headed to Cancun with all our family and friends with us," Stephens said. "Get there early. Have a smile on your face, and be ready for a wonderful weekend."

The TSA is expecting to screen 14 million people this weekend. That's up 11% from last year, with Friday expected to be the most bustling day at airports.

The TSA said nearly 2.6 million people were screened at checkpoints on Thursday alone. United predicted a record-breaking 2.8 million people will fly the friendly skies this weekend.

Chicago's Mike Corrigan and his two boys were all packed up to see family this weekend.

"Getting out of the city, a little bit aways. Spending some R&R time out in Ohio," said Mike Corrigan, who is traveling to Ohio. "Get out there on time man. Today's not too bad. They are doing a good job getting us through."

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited O'Hare on Friday morning and said flight cancellations are down to 1.6% this year from 2.6% last year.

Buttigieg said his department is working to protect travelers from unexpected cancellations.

"When flights were canceled or significantly changed and passengers no longer wished to travel, we have helped them get over $2.5 billion and counting in refunds," Buttigieg said. "So, not only are we seeing the system rebound from the worsened effects of COVID, but we're seeing things more aligned to what we regard as normal."

It's a much-needed mental reset for many people as summer comes to a close.

"Just the time away, the time away from screens, the time together without having to worry about the work and stress of everyday life," said Zach Anderson, who is from Iowa and heading to Punta Cana.

And, on the roads, Illinois highways officials believe nearly 8 million people will hop in the car this weekend, with Friday seeing the highest traffic volumes.

"We're heading to Detroit," said Chris King, who is from Minnesota. "Hang out with some biker friends and enjoying the weather, because it's about to turn up here."

Everyone coming through the Chicago expressways knows they're in for a lengthy drive. Congestion has been building on the Kennedy on Friday afternoon.

Many drivers on the road are heading to family or friends, but Maxsym Skawynski is on the clock in this holiday traffic, cruising through a road trip for work.

"Yeah about 1,200 miles. Our ride is to Antioch, Downers Grove, back to Antioch," Skawynski said. "I try to learn a different language. I just put my headphones in, turn the volume up and zone out and just cruise."

If you are driving on Friday, Triple A said the worst time to travel is from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The sooner you leave, the better.

Meanwhile, from pro beach volleyball to Bike the Drive, it's going to be busy if you're staying in town this weekend.

From Bike the Drive to neighborhood feistvals to last trips to the beach in perfect hot weather, Labor Day Weekend has lots of fun to offer.

There were plenty sights and sounds of the diaspora in Chicago's Washington Park as the 34th Annual African Festival of the Arts helped kick off a goodbye to summer.

The event transformed Washington Park into a simulated African village, where visitors enjoyed arts, crafts and music from across the world's second-largest and second most populous continent.

Over the long Labor Day holiday weekend, it is just one way some are marking the unofficial sign that fall is here.

Once again, the Chicago Jazz Fest returns to strike a chord. The musical tradition is at Millennium Park.

The Chicago area enjoyed sunny skies and a warm breeze, making heading outside a must.

The marching bands of HBCU rivals showed off their talent in advance of the upcoming matchup at the Chicago Football Classic. Historically Black universities' Central State Marauders and Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils take to the field on Saturday.

"Events like this are so important for our HBCU's, our community, really speaking about the support we all know we need and provide for our institutions," said Mississippi Valley State University President Dr. Jerryl Briggs.

Meanwhile, riders are gearing up for Bike the Drive on Sunday. DuSable Lake Shore Drive will be shut down for the 30-mile loop from the Museum of Science and Industry to Hollywood.

And, the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour returns to Oak Street Beach.

The fierce competition for $300,000 in prize money features the world's best beach volleyball players with a backdrop of Chicago's beautiful lakefront.