What to expect for Labor Day travel


(NEW YORK) — With Labor Day approaching, Americans looking to take one last vacation can expect a busy holiday weekend and full flights.

This comes as travel continues to recover despite concerns around the delta variant. According to TripIt, 2021 bookings for domestic flights are 53% of what they were in 2019.

“Mid-July was incredibly strong for bookings, and we’re expecting Labor Day to be very similar in that regard,” Adit Damodaran, an economist at Hopper, an online booking platform, said in an interview with ABC News. “We’re already seeing really high searches for Labor Day weekend. And in comparison to mid-July, it’s very similar.”

According to Hopper, the most-booked destinations for Labor Day weekend have been Las Vegas, Atlanta and Denver. For international trips, Mexico and the Caribbean have been most popular.

“That seems to suggest that travelers have started feeling more comfortable going to places like Mexico and the Caribbean,” Damodaran said. “It’s just a shift away from that transatlantic travel that we saw over the summer, but I still think we’re seeing travelers feeling comfortable traveling internationally as long as it’s close to home.”

Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, said the number of people traveling to Mexico from the U.S. is 10% higher than pre-pandemic.

“I think you’re going to see a continued surge and excitement for flights to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo — those sort-of-relaxing and resort-type destination favorites for American travelers,” Keyes told ABC News.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago-O’Hare International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport are expected to be the busiest airports over the holiday weekend, according to Hopper.

Keyes said don’t expect to have the plane all to yourself.

“Expect fuller planes, expect some long lines at the airport for the TSA security check, and plan to get there a little bit earlier in order to make sure you don’t have any hiccups and miss your flight,” he added.

And, Damodaran noted, Labor Day deals are “quickly disappearing.”

“If you’re looking to get the best deal on Labor Day airfare, we recommend booking pretty much immediately,” Damodaran said

Keyes agreed.

“Don’t hold out hope that you’re gonna see a great last-minute deal,” he added, “because not only is the likelihood of that extreme exceedingly slim, but the price is likely to continue to go up with each passing day.”

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