Labor Day Air Travel Numbers Surpassed Even Pre-Pandemic Levels

And with surprisingly few delays and cancellations

AAA Says One-Third Of Americans Plan To Travel On Labor Day Holiday Weekend
Brandon Bell / Getty Images

Air passenger numbers reached a four-year high this weekend as millions of travelers jetted out of town for the long Labor Day weekend. According to a Labor Day travel survey conducted by The Vacationer, 53 percent of Americans—approximately 137 million people—reported having plans to travel for summer's last long weekend, though only 14 percent said they were planning to do so by air.

Before the holiday weekend, airlines braced for what was predicted to be one of the busiest Labor Day weekends in years.

Traveler numbers at Florida's Orlando International Airport, the third-largest airport in the country by traveler volume, were expected to surpass the previous year by 20 percent, with more than 764,000 passengers passing through the airport between Thursday, Sept. 1, to Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Across the country, at Los Angeles International Airport, airlines and airport workers also felt the pressure, with over 456,000 passengers predicted to pass through between Thursday and Monday.

It turns out the hunches were correct. This Labor Day weekend saw air travel rebound to numbers that beat out even pre-pandemic numbers seen in 2019—which is extra impressive considering 2022's track record of higher-priced flights and many mishaps from lost luggage to long flight delays and cancellations.

The Transportation Security Administration reported screening a total of 11,074,369 travelers between Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, and Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, with Friday, Sept. 2, being the biggest travel day. These total travelers numbers are up three percent from 2019's pre-pandemic numbers (though all the dates didn't necessarily fall over the long weekend but in comparison to the same five-day period).

Despite the last year being full of cancellations and delays, passengers traveling over the busy Labor Day weekend managed to remain relatively unscathed. For example, on Monday, there were only 231 flight delays and one cancellation at LAX, and only 118 delays and one cancellation at Orlando's MCO, according to flight tracking site Flight Aware.

Coincidentally (or not), the Department of Transportation called upon airlines to release clearer-cut rules surrounding passenger compensation in the case of controllable delays and cancellations. Airlines were asked to share their policies with the public on Friday, Sept. 2, just in time for the holiday weekend.

Article Sources
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  1. The Vacationer. "Labor Day Travel Survey 2022 — 53%+ (137 Million to Travel), 50%+ Say Gas Prices to Affect Plans, Nearly 53% to Still Road Trip." August 29, 2022.

  2. Click Orlando. "OIA Sees Hundreds of Thousands of Passengers Over Labor Day Weekened." Sept. 5, 2022.

  3. Spectrum News. "Labor Day Travel Crunch Begins, LAX Anticipates Strong Passenger Numbers." Sept. 1, 2022.

  4. Transportation Security Administration. "TSA Checkpoint Travel Numbers." Accessed Sept. 7, 2022.