Headed for vacation? Expect a lot of company and the possibility of some major tie-ups.
After the February winter break, crowds will again throng to airports and vacation beaches through the first week of April.
The only gloomy note is a possible nationwide airport jam-up because of "sequester" budget cuts. Air-traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration agents and customs and border staff are expected to face rolling furloughs. That will cause long lines at airports, federal officials warn.
The busiest college spring break week starts this week, when 2.7 million students will be on the loose, according to TripSmarter.com, which tracks university spring breaks. The week of March 24 will see 1.8 million students on break.
Besides students on traditional or alternative spring break, March also is a huge travel month for last-minute skiers, baseball spring training fans and snowbirds savoring their final moments in the sun.
For Easter week travel, "we are sending people to Mexico — the Mayan Riviera and Cancun — and Florida, and I'm sending some people to Myrtle Beach, which people can drive to in order to keep down costs," said Nancy Fleck, an agent at Joan Anderson Travel in Detroit.
Spring break airfares are up 9 percent over last year, averaging $349, according to Bing Travel's forecast. Fares will be highest the week of March 22 and for itineraries leaving on a Saturday.
And yes, travelers are still booking spring cruises despite widespread publicity about the disabled Carnival ship a couple of weeks ago, Fleck added.
"They're booking cruises, despite everything that has happened," she said. "It's a good value. That's the draw."