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Holiday travel is up as flights unwind from Hurricane Idalia cancellations

Labor Day travelers warned of busy airports, roads

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — AAA is warning Labor Day weekend travelers to be prepared for delays in the skies and on the ground this year.

The motor club says domestic flight bookings for this weekend are up 4% over last year, and international bookings are up a whopping 44%.

Founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights and travel expert Scott Keyes says the increase is due to people finally feeling comfortable traveling again in the wake of the pandemic.

“This is the first summer that they felt comfortable doing so, and we have essentially three years of pent-up demand for international travel,” Keyes said.

The busy travel weekend comes as several airports in Florida shut down due to Hurricane Idalia.

According to CNN, about 1 in 7 flights touched down in Florida at some point. Tampa International opened to inbound flights only at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The airport posted on X that it expected a full opening on Thursday.

According to FlightAware reports, Southwest Airlines was the most affected on Wednesday, followed by Delta Airlines and American Airlines. On Thursday, airports in the southeast were reporting minimal damage.

TSA marks the holiday as Sept. 1-6. TSA says it will screen more than 14 million passengers during that time, with Friday being the busiest day.

“We anticipate this Labor Day holiday weekend will be busy, with passenger volumes nearly 11% higher than last year—volumes that already exceeded 2019 Labor Day holiday travel volumes,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

AAA says the busiest travel time on the road will be between 2-6 p.m. on Thursday and another heavy travel day on Friday between 11 a.m.-9 p.m. The club says early mornings will be drivers’ best bet to beat the traffic.

“Most travelers will leave on Thursday or Friday before Labor Day to take advantage of the long holiday weekend,” said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel. “Domestically, the Pacific Northwest, big cities like New York and Denver, and tourist hotspots like Orlando and Las Vegas are the most popular. Internationally, it’s all about Europe and Canada.”  

AAA says data shows Vancouver, Rome, London, Dublin, and Paris are the top five international destinations over Labor Day weekend.

TSA has several tips to help make air travel as smooth as possible, including arriving at the airport at least two hours before your scheduled flight and familiarizing yourself with TSA’s security guidelines.