Over 12 Million Americans Are Expected to Fly for Labor Day — What to Know Before You Travel

Be ready for a busy airport.

Interior of a busy Miami International Airport seen from above

Alessandra Amodio

More than 12 million Americans are expected to fly this Labor Day holiday weekend as flight costs soar significantly over both 2021 and pre-pandemic 2019 prices.

Of the 12.6 million Americans expected to take to the skies, most will depart on Friday and return on Monday, Sept. 5, according to data from travel app Hopper that was shared with Travel + Leisure. The average cost for a domestic flight over the holiday weekend is $278 round-trip, an increase of 23% from 2021 and 20% from 2019. And the average price of an international flight is $850 round-trip, or 34% more expensive than last year and 30% more expensive than 2019.

“After a summer of historically high demand for travel, many Americans are taking one more vacation over Labor Day weekend before the summer season comes to an end,” Hopper wrote in its analysis. “Prices remain at historically high levels as demand for travel has been strong throughout the summer after pent up demand from the prior two years due to the pandemic.”

A long weekend getaway in Las Vegas was the most-booked domestic destination for the holiday, according to Hopper, followed by Denver and Atlanta. Warm-weather beach vacations to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Cancun were also popular options.

Flights may be expensive, but hotel prices have actually come down from their peak in June of $193 per night, now averaging $189 per night for the holiday weekend. 

The high flight prices follow a summer of incredibly high demand that, coupled with staffing shortages and air traffic control issues, resulted in mass cancellations and delays. As a result, several airlines proactively trimmed their summer schedules in an effort to avoid further issues, including JetBlue, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, while others have extended those cuts into the fall, including United and American Airlines.

The Department of Transportation has also cracked down on airlines, creating a new interactive website to help travelers understand airline policies on cancellations and delays, and proposing a rule change that would require carriers to issue a refund if a domestic flight is delayed by more than three hours.

This year, the Federal Aviation Administration warned more frequent thunderstorms across the Florida peninsula could create weather delays for the holiday weekend (as they have recently in the area), and recommended travelers across the country “plan ahead” by tracking the status of both their flight and airports themselves, and packing safely and smartly for a smoother travel experience. 

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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