Barry Steinberger, his wife Robin, their two girls and another...

Barry Steinberger, his wife Robin, their two girls and another family are road-tripping to upstate New York and Canada for the Labor Day weekend. Credit: James Escher

Dix Hills resident Robin Steinberger packed her SUV and hit the road with family for the Labor Day break, joining thousands of other motorists looking to cram in one last summer excursion.

Steinberger, a travel consultant at Long Island-based ET Family Travel, usually spends the holiday vacationing in Aruba with her husband and two girls, but between an airline industry grappling with flight disruptions and her oldest daughter’s high school orientation on Wednesday, she decided on a driving adventure instead.

Roughly 85% to 90% of travelers are expected to drive for the Labor Day weekend, according to Robert Sinclair Jr., AAA Northeast spokesman.

Steinberger and her family are road-tripping to upstate New York and Canada with another Long Island family whose children started school Thursday but have Friday off.

“I think the time crunch for us this year made it a little more different and complicated to travel. It was just easier to get in the car and to drive," said Steinberger, 42. "A lot of my clients are fearful of airlines canceling flights, and we didn’t want to have that issue, either, so staying more local was the plan."

Steinberger added that “you have to make use of every last second that you have before the end of summer."

The family was headed to Niagara Falls and Toronto, and mapped out various stops along the way, including Letchworth State Park in Castile and the Corning Museum of Glass.

“We’re looking forward to a change of scenery," Steinberger said earlier this week. "It’s so important to feel refreshed before the school year, and it’s really about making memories with our kids."

Airfare and gas prices has put a dent in some Long Islanders' weekend travel plans.

An informal AAA survey for the Northeast region found that inflation will impact travel decisions for 70% of those surveyed. According to the survey, only 31% said they plan to travel for Labor Day weekend, while 49% will not and 20% were unsure.

Airfare prices are down since May, but remain higher for the holiday than pre-pandemic 2019, travel experts said. Gas prices also have been dropping since reaching a peak of $5.04 on June 15 on Long Island, Sinclair said. Last Labor Day, Sinclair said a gallon of regular gas was $3.27 versus $3.81 on Thursday.

This comes on the heel of one of the busiest summer travel periods since 2019, according to travel experts. There were 12.2 million passengers at area airports in July, 93% of the volume of passengers in July 2019, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the New York metro area’s main airports.

The Port Authority’s four bridges and two tunnels handled 10.7 million cars in July, just shy of the 10.8 million drivers that passed through the same crossings in July 2019. The agency anticipates more than 1.8 million passengers traveling through Kennedy, Newark, LaGuardia and New York Stewart airports from Thursday through Tuesday.

“We are coming out of a summer like no other before," said Lisa Enden, co-vice president of #1 Power Travel in Plainview. "Volume-wise, we have been there … 2018 and 2019, those were big summers, but there was such a difference in 2022, with last-minute, late bookings that kept us working 24/7. The amount of people calling to go away the following week or two weeks from then … It was overwhelming.”

Rebecca Alesia, owner of Oyster Bay-based agency Wanderology Luxury Travel, also has been swamped with 11th-hour requests from people hoping to embark on international trips.

“Last summer, I was getting last-minute calls … but everybody wanted to drive and nobody wanted to fly. Everybody wanted domestic," Alesia said. "Now I’m fielding last-minute calls that are like, literally, I want to go to Bermuda next week, I want to go to Cancun." 

The airline industry struggled to meet pent-up demand during a season marked by increased delays and cancellations amid staffing shortages and weather issues, but aviation experts expect the fall season to be less volatile. 

Air traveler complaints in June were nearly 270% above pre-pandemic levels, according to monthly airline data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. When a significant delay or cancellation is due to factors within the airline’s control, passengers will be able to find services available to them on a new interactive dashboard that the DOT launched on Thursday.

To improve reliability, airlines boosted staff and trimmed summer and fall schedules, aviation experts said.

“They cut their fall travel overall by about 55,000 flights so far, and that could continue to get pared back — and leading that is American Airlines. They’ve cut over 30,000 flights for the fall,” said Kathleen Bangs, a former airline pilot and spokesperson with FlightAware, a flight tracking company.

While the travel industry can take a breath as the hectic summer season winds down, experts remain hopeful COVID-19 will stay in the rearview mirror and people will be able to travel with ease before the Thanksgiving rush.

“I think we will always have a little PTSD because it [the pandemic] was so devastating to the industry, but it definitely feels like happy days are here again,” Alesia said.

Dix Hills resident Robin Steinberger packed her SUV and hit the road with family for the Labor Day break, joining thousands of other motorists looking to cram in one last summer excursion.

Steinberger, a travel consultant at Long Island-based ET Family Travel, usually spends the holiday vacationing in Aruba with her husband and two girls, but between an airline industry grappling with flight disruptions and her oldest daughter’s high school orientation on Wednesday, she decided on a driving adventure instead.

Roughly 85% to 90% of travelers are expected to drive for the Labor Day weekend, according to Robert Sinclair Jr., AAA Northeast spokesman.

Steinberger and her family are road-tripping to upstate New York and Canada with another Long Island family whose children started school Thursday but have Friday off.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The airline industry struggled to meet demand during a season marked by increased delays and cancellations amid staffing shortages, but aviation experts expect the fall season to be less chaotic.
  • Roughly 85% to 95% of people typically drive to their destinations during the Labor Day weekend, according to AAA Northeast.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed some new rules for airlines to better protect passengers in case of delays and cancellations.

“I think the time crunch for us this year made it a little more different and complicated to travel. It was just easier to get in the car and to drive," said Steinberger, 42. "A lot of my clients are fearful of airlines canceling flights, and we didn’t want to have that issue, either, so staying more local was the plan."

Steinberger added that “you have to make use of every last second that you have before the end of summer."

The family was headed to Niagara Falls and Toronto, and mapped out various stops along the way, including Letchworth State Park in Castile and the Corning Museum of Glass.

“We’re looking forward to a change of scenery," Steinberger said earlier this week. "It’s so important to feel refreshed before the school year, and it’s really about making memories with our kids."

Airfare and gas prices has put a dent in some Long Islanders' weekend travel plans.

An informal AAA survey for the Northeast region found that inflation will impact travel decisions for 70% of those surveyed. According to the survey, only 31% said they plan to travel for Labor Day weekend, while 49% will not and 20% were unsure.

Airfare prices are down since May, but remain higher for the holiday than pre-pandemic 2019, travel experts said. Gas prices also have been dropping since reaching a peak of $5.04 on June 15 on Long Island, Sinclair said. Last Labor Day, Sinclair said a gallon of regular gas was $3.27 versus $3.81 on Thursday.

This comes on the heel of one of the busiest summer travel periods since 2019, according to travel experts. There were 12.2 million passengers at area airports in July, 93% of the volume of passengers in July 2019, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the New York metro area’s main airports.

The Port Authority’s four bridges and two tunnels handled 10.7 million cars in July, just shy of the 10.8 million drivers that passed through the same crossings in July 2019. The agency anticipates more than 1.8 million passengers traveling through Kennedy, Newark, LaGuardia and New York Stewart airports from Thursday through Tuesday.

“We are coming out of a summer like no other before," said Lisa Enden, co-vice president of #1 Power Travel in Plainview. "Volume-wise, we have been there … 2018 and 2019, those were big summers, but there was such a difference in 2022, with last-minute, late bookings that kept us working 24/7. The amount of people calling to go away the following week or two weeks from then … It was overwhelming.”

Rebecca Alesia, owner of Oyster Bay-based agency Wanderology Luxury Travel, also has been swamped with 11th-hour requests from people hoping to embark on international trips.

“Last summer, I was getting last-minute calls … but everybody wanted to drive and nobody wanted to fly. Everybody wanted domestic," Alesia said. "Now I’m fielding last-minute calls that are like, literally, I want to go to Bermuda next week, I want to go to Cancun." 

The airline industry struggled to meet pent-up demand during a season marked by increased delays and cancellations amid staffing shortages and weather issues, but aviation experts expect the fall season to be less volatile. 

Air traveler complaints in June were nearly 270% above pre-pandemic levels, according to monthly airline data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. When a significant delay or cancellation is due to factors within the airline’s control, passengers will be able to find services available to them on a new interactive dashboard that the DOT launched on Thursday.

To improve reliability, airlines boosted staff and trimmed summer and fall schedules, aviation experts said.

“They cut their fall travel overall by about 55,000 flights so far, and that could continue to get pared back — and leading that is American Airlines. They’ve cut over 30,000 flights for the fall,” said Kathleen Bangs, a former airline pilot and spokesperson with FlightAware, a flight tracking company.

While the travel industry can take a breath as the hectic summer season winds down, experts remain hopeful COVID-19 will stay in the rearview mirror and people will be able to travel with ease before the Thanksgiving rush.

“I think we will always have a little PTSD because it [the pandemic] was so devastating to the industry, but it definitely feels like happy days are here again,” Alesia said.

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