Major airports, railway stations and expressways across the country were packed with holiday travelers Saturday as the Golden Week holiday season started.

But the crowds were smaller than usual because this year's holiday period is split into two long weekends, with the heaviest congestion expected May 3.

While seats on some flights bound for Kyushu and Okinawa from Tokyo's Haneda airport were fully reserved, many other domestic flights were not fully booked, said Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co.

"Turnout was lower than expected," an ANA official said.

According to Narita International Airport Corp., the number of people departing from the airport for overseas destinations was projected to reach about 36,000 on Saturday, with Taiwan and Singapore ranking high on the list.

Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) said some reserved seats on Tokaido Shinkansen trains from Tokyo to Osaka remained unsold, while the occupancy rates for nonreserved seats on some bullet trains exceeded 100 percent.

The Japan Road Traffic Information Center said congestion started to form on some expressways from around 7 a.m. Saturday.