-- This Labor Day weekend, more than 16.1 million Americans will jump on an airplane to celebrate the unofficial end of summer, says an airline industry trade group.
Airlines for America has predicted a 5 percent increase in air travelers over the seven-day Labor Day travel period, which begins Wednesday, Aug. 30, and ends Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Major airlines are adding 133,000 seats to handle the passenger uptick, Airlines for America says.
The Los Angeles, Atlanta and Orlando international airports are expected to be the busiest U.S. airports this holiday.
Travelers should be prepared for busy airports and jam-packed planes on Friday, Sept. 1, which is expected to be the busiest travel day, followed by Thursday, Aug. 31, and Monday, Sept 4.
“As households' wealth increases, ticket prices remain low, and airlines large and small continue to grow, consumers are finding it easier and more affordable than ever to get away for personal or family travel,” Airlines for America Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich said in a statement.
Labor Day isn't the only active travel season this year. Airlines for America predicted a record-breaking 234 million passengers this summer -- a 4 percent increase from 2016, when airlines saw 225 million Americans in the sky.
But there is some good news for passengers: U.S. airlines' mishandled bag rate dropped from 2.65 per 1,000 passengers to 2.54 per 1,000 passengers, the lowest ever. And the rate of involuntary denied boardings also fell, from 0.62 per 10,000 passengers to 0.52 per 10,000 passengers, another record for the industry.
However, airlines reported a 98.55 percent flight completion, down from 98.75 percent last year, and 78.66 percent on-time performance down from 81.42 percent in 2016.
“Airlines regularly invest in their workforce and new technologies, and put in place processes to improve operations and enhance the customer experience. The industry’s nearly 99 percent flight completion rate and record-low rates of involuntary denied boardings and mishandled baggage reflect these investments,” Heimlich added.