The start of the May half-term holiday for many schools will see “hectic” roads and the most flights departing the UK since before the pandemic, according to industry estimates.
About 19m leisure journeys by car are expected on Britain’s roads over the next four days, and more than 3,000 planes are scheduled to take off on Friday.
The RAC is preparing for the busiest late-May bank holiday weekend for motoring since 2019, with traffic likely to peak on Friday afternoon when leisure trips and commuting coincide.
Fine weather is forecast for the UK-wide three-day weekend – which coincides with the start of the half-term break for most schools in England and Wales – potentially bringing more people out to the coast and countryside.
According to the analysts Inrix, there will be severe delays on the M25, the M5 in Somerset and M6 in Cheshire.
The RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With the travel restrictions imposed during Covid now thankfully a distant memory, it’s clear drivers’ desire to get away has been reignited, with our figures for this coming weekend suggesting leisure traffic volumes will be close to what we last saw in 2019.”
He added: “With the Met Office currently predicting largely settled weather with above average temperatures, we’re expecting this to be a hectic period on major roads.”
Rail passengers have a bank holiday weekend mercifully free of planned stoppages. Unusually, there are very few major engineering works, meaning most British rail services will be running normally.
However, the second half of the school holiday week sees a series of rail strikes, with drivers from Aslef out on 31 May and 3 June, and train crew in the RMT union on strike on 2 June. Most services across England are likely to be halted when drivers walk out, with severe disruption during the RMT action.
Heathrow airport, meanwhile, vowed that passengers would not experience any disruption from three days of strikes that started on Thursday, as holiday departures peak on Friday.
The chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said passengers “should not be concerned about strike action by Unite over the half-term getaway”.
The strikes, which also affected visitors to the UK for King Charles’s coronation earlier this month, follow a dispute over pay increases for security staff.
According to data from the aviation analytics firm Cirium, more than 3,000 planes will take off from UK airports on Friday, the highest daily figure since December 2019.
About 6% more flights will operate over the bank holiday weekend than a year ago, potentially flying out more than 2 million passengers from Friday to Monday.
Dublin, Amsterdam, Palma, Málaga and Alicante are the most popular international destinations.