2022 has been a busy travel year worldwide, and Labor Day in the U.S. is no exception.
Labor Day marks the unofficial end to the summer travel season. Nationally, about 12.6 million people are scheduled to fly from U.S airports from Thursday, Sept. 1 to Monday, Sept. 5, according to Hopper. AAA reports that the average lowest mid-range hotel rate is $233 per night. The agency also reports the average lowest car rental rate is coming in at $89 per day -- up almost 32% since 2020.
Here’s what people driving and flying to and from the Carolinas can expect this holiday weekend.
Drivers: Expect more law enforcement and lower gas prices
Starting Monday, the North Carolina Department of Transportation began stepping up patrols as part of its annual Labor Day Booze It & Lose It campaign. Law enforcement across the state will be conducting the operation through Sept. 11.
“In 2021, 423 people died on North Carolina roads due to alcohol-related crashes, including 15 during the Labor Day Booze It & Lose It enforcement campaign period,” the NCDOT said.
NCDOT said the effort is especially important in 2022 because officials are working to reduce the number of traffic fatalities, which in 2021 marked the most traffic deaths in North Carolina since 1973.
South Carolina officials are cracking down in a similar effort to reduce impaired driving. In 2021, there were 10 deadly crashes with 12 fatalities during the Labor Day weekend. However, highway fatalities have decreased this year compared to 2021, officials said.
“While we are pleased to see a decrease in the number of fatalities from last year, we truly believe that even one life lost on our roads is too many. That’s why we urge you not to let your guard down as we close out the 100 Deadly Days of Summer,” said South Carolina Highway Patrol Colonel Chris Williamson. “The three main things we encourage all drivers to do is drive defensively, follow the posted speed limits, and designate a sober driver if you plan to drink alcohol.”
While Aug. 22’s national average of $3.90 is 51 cents less than a month ago, AAA says it’s 74 cents more than prices a year ago. The fall can mostly be credited to stable oil prices and modest demand for gasoline, AAA reports.
AAA also announced gas prices in the Carolinas dropped an average of 5 cents per gallon on the week between both states. Both states’ averages have now declined for 10 consecutive weeks since mid-June.
North Carolina’s average is now $3.59, declining 7 cents on the week. South Carolina’s gas price average is now $3.46, declining 4 cents on the week.
Here are tips from AAA to help prepare you for your holiday road trip:
Prep your vehicle. Visit a AAA Car Care Center to ensure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Some vehicles may have sat unused for months and should be inspected.
Plan stops. Destinations and businesses may have adjusted their hours of operation.
Pack cleaning supplies and face coverings. Some regions have ordinances requiring the use of masks.
Pack food and water. This could reduce the number of times you need to go to the store.
Pull out of the traffic lanes if your car breaks down. If faced with a vehicle emergency, safely steer your car off the roadway. Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other drivers and exit the vehicle on the side facing away from traffic if possible. Once everyone is in a safe location, request assistance from a road service provider.
Fliers: Expect higher ticket prices
According to AAA, the average lowest airfare is coming in at $179 per ticket -- an almost 20% increase over last year and a 30% increase over 2020. In the Carolinas, Charlotte-Douglas International Airport officials say from Sept. 1 to Sept. 5, they expect 315,000 passengers to fly to, through and from the airport.
“By comparison, CLT welcomed around 330,000 passengers Labor Day weekend 2019 (pre-COVID),” officials said in a news release.
The largest crowds will arrive Thursday and Friday with approximately 80,000 passengers expected each day, the airport said.
CLT offered several tips for getting to your destination on time:
If traveling this holiday, remember to arrive early. TSA recommends passengers be in line at the airline check-in counter or security screening area at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.
Parking lots and decks will fill fast. To guarantee the availability of preferred parking options and for the best rates, visit parkCLT.com or the CLT Airport app to book official Airport parking online. Same-day booking is limited for all products, with a minimum of six hours in advance. Passengers who do not book online are strongly encouraged to check parking availability on the CLT real-time parking map or call 704.359.5555 for the latest parking conditions. Please note: Only credit cards are accepted for all Airport parking. Cashiers are not available at exit tolls. Cash is only accepted at CLT’s pay-on-foot machines located in the Hourly Deck.
New to the terminal, approximately 90,000 square feet of the Terminal Lobby Expansion’s west side debuted in July. When approaching the airport, Door 2 on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim level and Doors 1 and 2 on Departures/Ticketing level are open. As passengers enter on either the terminal’s upper or lower levels on the west side, ticket counters, security checkpoints and luggage carousels are not immediately visible. Signage has been installed to point customers in the right direction.
Forecast: Expect humidity and afternoon storms
(Updated Sept. 1) Humidity will increase through the holiday weekend, which means more clouds and a return to some afternoon showers and thunderstorms, according to Chief Meteorologist Steve Udelson. The best chance for rain is on Sunday.
The tropics are heating up too with a system in the north Atlantic named Danielle. A cloud blob east of the Antilles is still likely to come together over the next few days.
(WATCH BELOW: NCDOT planning I-77 shoulders north of Charlotte to be used at peak travel times)