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Long lines, rental car shortage happening at Denver's airport ahead of Memorial Day weekend

Denver International Airport
Posted at 5:42 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 23:41:04-04

DENVER — A glimpse inside Denver International Airport on a busy Friday ahead of Memorial Day weekend showed a near return to normal, except for the federally-mandated masks, of course.

"I knew it was going to be super busy versus my previous trips. They were not busy. There was hardly anyone traveling," said Andrea Johnson, who is vacationing from Washington, D.C.

AAA says about three million Americans will hit the skies this weekend. Some of them, like Alex Brizer and Darren Desouza from New York, chose Denver as their first post-pandemic destination.

"We're going to hang out and, you know, get a good idea of downtown Denver, do a little exploring," Brizer said.

But some may need a bit of luck getting around. Rental cars are in high demand. Some of the companies ran out of cars earlier this week.

Screenshot of Enterprise
A screenshot taken on Wednesday, May 26, shows a pop-up from Enterprise about a lack of availability at its rental location at Denver International Airport during Memorial Day weekend.

"Last year, the rental car companies were basically forced to close their entire business to survive. Many of them sold off their fleets or they shuttered their fleets," said Skyler McKinley, a spokesperson for AAA.

Now, rental car companies are having to buy back cars to meet demand.

"Expect long lines, expect really steep fees. Many folks won't be able to get a rental car at all," McKinley said.

Johnson knows this firsthand.

"The rental cars are expensive, and the Ubers are expensive everywhere," she said.

After many trips to Denver, she'll be trying something new: taking public transportation to get around.

"Today, for the first time ever, I'm going to take the train into town," Johnson said.

But regardless of how some choose to get around this weekend patience will be key.

"While the pandemic might be over for you if you're fully vaccinated, it's still a fact of life," McKinley said. "Know that it's going to be a little different out there, and don't expect things to be as they were in 2019."