NEW YORK Several travel businesses predict that the number of people travelling for the Labor Day holiday weekend in the United States will return to pre-pandemic levels and, in some cases, establish new records.
Despite rising airfares and rates, persistent interruptions to flights, and the stress on household budgets caused by inflation, U.S. travel demand remained strong for the final holiday weekend of summer, according to the travel firms.
Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, stated, “People are not opting to remain at home; they are still travelling and finding ways to do so.”
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According to the travel booking app Hopper, Labor Day weekend, which usually comes on the first Monday of September, may be matched with Memorial Day weekend as the largest travel weekend of the summer, with flight reservations expected to match those of the May holiday. This would enable it to surpass Fourth of July travel volumes.
Adobe (ADBE) Analytics, which looks at data from travel, leisure, and hospitality sites, says that Labor Day travel costs are 17% higher than in 2019.
In 2019 and 2021, according to Hopper, domestic flight fares are predicted to be 20% higher during the holiday weekend than during the weekday.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. predicts 2.6 million individuals will fly with the company from Thursday through Tuesday. The airline said that this would be about as busy as the Labor Day weekend in 2019.
This weekend, Hopper expects that 12.6 million people will fly from Thursday through Monday. According to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, that would be almost 22 percent more than the number of passengers in 2019.
According to short-term rental analytics firm AirDNA, the total number of nights booked on short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb Inc. and Vrbo increased by over 16% during the Labor Day weekend compared to pre-pandemic levels.
According to Jamie Lane, vice president of research at AirDNA, around 1.76 million nights have already been reserved for the holiday weekend, a record amount of nights for short-term rentals for Labor Day weekend.
Patrick Scholes, an equities analyst at Truist, said, “People are showing a bit more resistance to the rising prices, and they’re booking non-hotel accommodations instead of hotels.”
The average price of a domestic hotel this weekend is 32% more than in 2019 and 6% higher than in 2021, according to the travel search engine KAYAK.
Even international travel, which has been slow to return to levels before the pandemic because of COVID-19 restrictions, is expected to reach 2019 levels this weekend.
According to the planned travel ticketing database ForwardKeys, this weekend’s international flight bookings are 14% higher than pre-pandemic levels. AAA says that bookings for all types of international travel will be more than four times what they were last year.
Compared to Labor Day weekend in 2021, fewer flights are being cancelled and more are being late.
Since August 17, around 1.8% of planned U.S. flights have been cancelled and 56,700 have been delayed, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.
According to Robert Cole, an analyst at Phocuswright, a global travel market research business, ongoing structural airline delays and staffing issues throughout the sector may create challenges and inconveniences for weekend getaways.
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“The question at the end of the weekend will be whether or not it was worthwhile,” he continued.