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Why your Labor Day weekend travel plans are likely to be a disaster

If you’re traveling this Labor Day weekend, it may be time to rethink. This bonus holiday at the end of the summer seems like the prime time to squeeze in one last getaway. Don’t book that flight unless you’re prepared to deal with the utmost in airport headaches — including packed planes and flight delays.

This summer has been a busy one. Headlines throughout the U.S. have confirmed what many travelers found out the hard way. Flights are full, hotels are expensive, and flight delays have reached a six-year high.

I don’t know about you, but waiting is literally the last thing I want to do at the airport. I know, I know, First World problems… But if I’ve paid hundreds of dollars for a flight, booked a hotel and found a reliable babysitter, then I want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. I don’t want to wait an extra hour while the plane taxis the runway. I especially don’t want a voucher for a hotel when my flight gets canceled at the last minute.

This is a sentiment most travelers agree with. Travelers who wish to avoid an airport nightmare are cautioned to rethink their Labor Day travel plans. The Seattle Times reports, “About 14 million people, up 2 percent from last year, are boarding those already nearly full airplanes during this Labor Day travel period, Aug. 17 to Sept. 2, according to Airlines for America, the industry trade group.”

It gets better. Not only are planes packed to the gills over Labor Day weekend, but air travel is pricey. Passengers can expect to see climbing rates and extra fees tacked onto each flight. Chief executive officer of discount carrier Spirit Airlines, Ben Baldanza, estimates that fares have increased at least 25 percent since 2008.

Hotels are following suit. For many travelers, booking a flight and a hotel go hand in hand. Travel package expenses may be driven up further by rising hotel rates spurred by growing demand. Smith Travel Research estimates a 4 percent increase in average daily hotel rates in the first half of 2014.

When it comes to Labor Day travel, proceed with caution. Braving the airport with the potential for an overcrowded or canceled flight might not be worth the hassle. If you’re desperate to get out of town, then get creative. Push your Labor Day vacation to an offseason weekend in October, or take a short road trip instead.

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