Passengers check in luggage at Allegiant Air's ticket counter at PIT on Aug. 29. This weekend is expected to be the busiest Labor Day travel period since 2019. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

Labor Day Travelers Head Out for One Last Summer Trip

Millions of Americans are expected to travel for the long Labor Day weekend, likely marking the busiest since 2019.

That’s no different at Pittsburgh International Airport, where airlines have added the most seats available for Labor Day travel in the last three years. The busiest day is likely to be Thursday, when approximately 31,000 travelers are expected to pass through the terminals.

For the Labor Day travel period from Thursday, Sept. 1, to Tuesday, Sept. 6, the number of available seats at PIT is up nearly 11 percent over last year, to more than 170,000, as the aviation industry trends toward pandemic recovery. During the same travel period in 2021, approximately 154,000 seats were available.

Still, that number is nearly 8 percent below 2019 seat availability, when airlines offered approximately 185,000 seats.

Nationally, the number of people traveling eclipsed 2019 levels on Sunday, Aug. 28—with more than 2.3 million people passing through checkpoints—for the first time since July 1.

Experts said travelers likely won’t face the same flight disruptions and cancellations that many experienced early in the summer because not as many people travel on Labor Day weekend compared to Memorial Day and Independence Day.

“Looking back on the summer, you’ve had a couple of big holiday travel periods. You had Memorial Day, when air travel went terribly. There were widespread delays and cancellations that turned into a nightmare for many folks traveling … and then you had July Fourth weekend, when there was minimal travel disruption,” Scott Keyes, the founder of flight deals and travel advice site Scott’s Cheap Flights, told CNN.com.

“Looking forward to Labor Day, my best guess would be it will be closer to July Fourth than to Memorial Day. And the reason for that is, I think, there are going to be fewer overall travelers on Labor Day than on Memorial Day,” he said. “With fewer travelers, you’re going to have less strain on the system.”

Allegiant Air has extended nonstop service between PIT and Key West to year-round. The route was initially launched as summer-only in 2021. (Stock image)

Airlines add fall flights

Airlines are gearing up for the fall season and beyond. Most recently, Allegiant has extended nonstop service from PIT to Key West, Florida, currently on sale through May 14. The route, initially started as seasonal service, is now scheduled to operate for a full year, with flights Thursdays and Sundays most weeks (additional options are available around holidays).

Airlines also are bringing five nonstop routes back to PIT starting this fall, including:

  • Southwest to Houston-Hobby, resumes Nov. 12 (Saturdays)
  • Spirit to Tampa, resumes Nov. 17 (daily)
  • Spirit to Fort Myers, resumes Nov. 17 (daily)
  • Frontier to Orlando, resumes Nov. 18 (less than daily)
  • Southwest to Austin, resumes Nov. 22 (less than daily)

JetBlue also announced that it plans to increase nonstop service to Boston up to five times daily on select days of the week starting Sept. 8, the highest daily frequency since the onset of the pandemic.

Additionally, the airline will introduce the Airbus A220 on the route beginning Oct. 30, which will increase the number of available seats.

Frontier also plans to increase Denver service to six flights a week from Sept. 8 until Nov. 15, before service ends for the season and shifts to Orlando.

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