If you’re flying from Pittsburgh International Airport this Labor Day weekend, you’ll join nearly 187,000 others in celebrating summer’s last hurrah.
But those numbers actually rank lower than most other holiday travel periods — less than Fourth of July (189,400), Memorial Day (187,600), Thanksgiving (193,900) and Christmas (178,500).
Day-by-day passenger counts are difficult to measure, but airports can see how many daily airline seats are being offered, and it’s a lot.
The Airlines for America trade group estimates 16.5 million passengers will fly worldwide on U.S. carriers during a week-long period sandwiched around Labor Day (Aug. 29 – Sept. 4). That total is a 3.5 percent increase from comparable dates in 2017.
To help meet the additional demand from holiday travelers, U.S. airlines have added about 92,000 more seats as compared to 2017, which is consistent with the trend at PIT this summer, along with overall increases in passenger traffic, which was up more than six percent in July.
The busiest day for Labor Day travel will be Friday, when an estimated 2.76 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines, according to A4A.
The fact that Labor Day isn’t as busy as other holiday weekends didn’t surprise Paul Busang, president of Gulliver’s Travels.
“With the kind of business we do, Labor Day doesn’t affect us. I don’t see people building vacations around this holiday (for flying),” Busang said. “I think people who are taking advantage of the three-day weekend — it’s more driving. When I talk to hoteliers, there’s a lull at the start of the school year. That’s why you can always find good hotel buys the first couple weeks of September.”
That’s not to say September isn’t busy, he said.
“September is a very busy travel month for international travel. It’s the month that sells out first for trips. So it’s not that there isn’t travel, it’s just that Labor Day is not the driver (compared to other holidays),” Busang said.
Don’t tell that to Ron Eason, 62, and his daughter Elsie, 16, who were flying to a family reunion in Orlando on Thursday on Allegiant.
“It’s a family reunion but we might go to Disney World, maybe Sea World,” said Eason, of Bethel Park. “My wife booked it.”