Labor Day Travelers Step Out During California Heat Wave

As a dangerous heat wave blankets California and the Southwest, many people are eager to travel over Labor Day weekend.

As a farewell to summer, around 12.7 million passengers are expected to fly this weekend, according to Hopper, an online travel site. Hopper predicts that Los Angeles, Atlanta and Denver airports will be the busiest hubs in the United States over the holiday weekend, with 10.8 million passengers traveling domestically and an additional 1.8 million traveling overseas. foreign.

Los Angeles International Airport expects to see 456,000 departing passengers Thursday through Monday, about 56,000 more than last year, according to Los Angeles World Airports. This continues a trend at LAX that began over the summer, with 36 million departing passengers in the first six months of the year compared to 23 million in 2021.

Total travel is back to pre-pandemic levels, with a surge in the number of international travelers to Mexico, Japan, France, England, South Korea and other countries . Part of that may be due to looser COVID-19 protocols than in previous years.

“Some airlines have doubled or tripled their number of seats for international travel compared to last year,” said Victoria Spilabotte, spokeswoman for Los Angeles World Airports.

She recommends airline passengers confirm whether their flights are running on time and whether there are any cancellations.

The US Department of Transportation launched a new dashboard it’s supposed to take some of the pain out of air travel. The dashboard shows which major airlines offer free rebookings, free hotel vouchers and other accommodations. This could be cold comfort as delays and cancellations continue to rise across the country.

On average, 23% of all flights in August were delayed from the United States, an increase of 28% from 2019, according to Hopper analysis. Cancellation rates, around 3% of departing flights, more than doubled compared to the same period.

All of these trips are happening as an unprecedented heat wave suffocates California and the Southwest. Temperatures are expected to persist in the triple digits through the first week of September for most of California and show no signs of letting up, according to the National Weather Service. Excessive heat advisories are in effect over Labor Day weekend, with meteorologists advising people to avoid outdoor activities during the day and stay hydrated.

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for areas outside of California, including southwestern Arizona and Las Vegas over Labor Day weekend. Temperatures on Monday are expected to reach 109 in Phoenix and 110 in Las Vegas. The city of Phoenix closed popular hiking trails Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak on days with excessive heat warnings.

While the weather will not be kind this weekend, gasoline prices are falling. In a survey of its members, the American Automobile Assn. said nearly two-thirds of American adults say they have changed their driving and spending habits since March. While gasoline prices have slowed, inflation continues to play an important role in people’s decisions.

Only 32% of its members surveyed said they would travel over the bank holiday weekend, with the majority saying they would drive to their destination. Las Vegas, San Diego and Orlando were the top destinations for hotel, cruise and tour bookings among Southern Californians, AAA said. AAA said it expects to help more than 58,000 travelers on the road in the first week of September. AAA also expects more drivers to travel in the fall.

Although Labor Day ushers in the unofficial end of summer, it has lost some of its appeal for parents who see their children starting school in the first weeks of August.

“Ten or 20 years ago, Labor Day was considered a big holiday,” said Marie Montgomery, spokeswoman for the Automobile Club of Southern California. “But because of the earlier start to the school year, it’s less of a vacation trip.”

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