Jetliners at the terminal at the Santa Barbara Airport.
Jetliners at the terminal at the Santa Barbara Airport. A surge in plane, train and car traffic is expected during the coming Labor Day Weekend. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

Labor Day weekend in California is well-traveled by car, airplane and train, so being ready and vacation planning are key to a smooth getaway.

The California Highway Patrol is joining forces with several other states to crackdown motorists driving under the influence this Labor Day weekend, and officers will increase patrol during a “maximum-enforcement period.”

The CHP will staff its available officers beginning at 6:01 p.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Monday.

Officers have received special training to detect cannabis-impaired drivers, officials said, and California has the highest number of trained drug recognition experts in the nation.

“Whatever causes impairment makes you an unsafe driver,” the CHP said in a news release. “High visibility enforcement in these six states will help create a general deterrence and promote safer driving.”

During last year’s Labor Day weekend maximum-enforcement operations, 36 people were killed on California roads and 1,084 individuals were arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, according to the CHP.

The Labor Day weekend enforcement effort is part of a Western States Traffic Safety Coalition campaign.

The CHP is partnering with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the state patrols of Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Washington and Oregon under the theme of “No safe place for impaired drivers.” The agencies will work as a Western States Traffic Safety Coalition.

Airline industry experts forecast a spike in Labor Day air traffic compared to last year.

Airlines for America, a trade organization, estimates about 17.5 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines worldwide between Aug. 28 and Sept. 3. That’s a 4-percent hike from the nearly 17 million passengers in 2018, according to the organization. 

Friday is forecast to be the busiest travel day, according to Airlines for America.

The high volume of passengers is expected to extend to the Santa Barbara Airport.

“Labor Day travelers should anticipate a busy, but hassle-free departure from SBA,” spokeswoman Lynn Houston said.

Friday and Monday are busy travel days at the airport, she said.

Compared to last year, SBA’s passenger count is up 22 percent, Houston said, adding that the load factors appear between 86 to 95 percent full.

The Transportation Security Administration projects a 13-percent increase in passengers departing SBA during Labor Day weekend compared to last year.

On Friday, more than 1,600 travelers are expected to be screened for a two-day total of more than 3,400 travelers.

Volumes will pick up on Monday when more than 1,550 travelers are projected to be screened, and on Tuesday when about 1,400 people are expected. That’s a 14-percent increase over the same period last year when about 2,570 were screened, according to TSA.

The busiest times at the security checkpoint are projected from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

TSA advises travelers to arrive at the airport two hours prior to flight departure due to the bump in travelers.

People also are taking trains this weekend.

Since 2015, Amtrak has averaged 507,755 passengers on the national network during the Labor Day weekend (between the Thursday before the Sept. 2 holiday and Tuesday after it), Amtrak spokeswoman Olivia Irvin said.

“We expect numbers similar to that in 2019,” Irvin said.

On average, Friday and Monday are the busiest days for train travel during the Labor Day weekend, she said.

Sunday and Tuesday are usually the least congested travel days of the week.

Amtrak has helped more than 1.9 million customers travel to their destinations during Labor Day weekend since 2015, Irvin said.

The Pacific Surfliner, Acela and Northeast Regional tend to be the most popular trains, she said.

Santa Barbara Police Department spokesman Anthony Wagner offered the following tips for drivers:

» Plan ahead.

» Buckle up.

» Leave early.

» Have alternate routes.

» Be patient. 

» If you encounter a drunken driver, contact local law enforcement. (You could save a life).

» Stay alert.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.