Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Travelers Return Home

Holiday travelers heading home after a long weekend of turkey, leftovers and holiday shopping found heavy crowds but most didn't find the delays they feared most.

In Atlanta, home to one of the nation's busiest airports, rainy weather and fog delayed some incoming flights more than two hours, though lines were moving Sunday night.

"In terms of security checkpoints things are moving smoothly, but the issue now is due to low visibility," said Herschel Grangent, spokesman for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

A spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation said Sunday that few flights were canceled and delays were minimal for the estimated 311,000 passengers traveling through Midway Airport and O'Hare International Airport.

"Certainly, the weather has been kind to everyone _ travelers, airports and all transportation agencies and avenues alike," spokeswoman Karen Pride said Sunday. "We're very happy that there have been a minimal number of delays for flights and not a lot of crowds at the airports."

Detroit Metropolitan Airport spokesman Mike Conway said that despite heavier than normal passenger volume due to the conclusion of holiday weekend, "it's a pretty smooth night for us."

In the congested New York area, the Federal Aviation Administration said delays into and out of John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports were 15 minutes, while passengers had delays of about 40 minutes at LaGuardia.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported flights were being delayed at Washington-area airports as long as two hours because of weather and heavy air traffic.

Officials in Los Angeles said arriving planes experienced delays of up to 15 minutes. They expected 1.85 million passengers to travel through the city's main airport over the 10-day Thanksgiving travel period beginning Nov. 16 and ending Sunday.

AAA said its surveys indicated a record 38.7 million U.S. residents were likely to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday period of Wednesday through Sunday, up about 1.5 percent from last year. About 4.7 million were expected to fly, and about 31.2 million travelers were likely to drive in spite of rising gasoline prices, AAA said last week.

Ashley Delseni arrived at Florida's Pensacola Regional Airport several hours early for a flight to Atlanta and a connection to San Diego, but she found no lines or delays by midmorning.

"Everything is going very smoothly," Delseni said. Her husband is a Marine stationed in Iraq, and she spent Thanksgiving with her family in Pensacola.

Virginia O. Van Antwerp and her daughter, Gypsie, returned home to Pensacola on Sunday following an overnight flight from Argentina, where they spent a Thanksgiving vacation, and a connecting flight from Atlanta.

"Everything was on time and there were no problems at all," Gypsie B. Van Antwerp said.

On the ground, extra-long Amtrak trains ferried passengers across Illinois, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. "Today is a very busy day."

Not all travelers were pleased.

Ben Oni had to wait an extra 12 hours at Atlanta for his flight home to San Jose, Calif., while lugging a 32-inch flat screen television, because he missed the check-in deadline for his original flight by one minute.

"It's awful. I feel very unhappy, extremely unhappy and disappointed," the program manager said.

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