Travelers Returning Home After Thanksgiving

Monday, November 26th 2007, 8:20 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ Rain and fog in the East caused delays for holiday travelers heading home Monday after a long weekend of turkey, football and holiday shopping.

AirTran Airways had delays of up to three hours for flights leaving New York's LaGuardia airport because of the rain and its flights leaving Philadelphia were backed up by one to nearly two hours, AirTran spokesman Dave Hirschman said.

``It will be a busy day today,'' Hirschman said. ``The system, I'm sure, is scheduled for nearly maximum capacity.''

Wait times at security checkpoints in Atlanta started smoothly, but according to Hirschman, had reached 50 minutes by 7:30 a.m.

AirTran Airways had not yet seen flight delays at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport early Monday but were expecting delays later in the day, he said.

``We're delighted to see the rain,'' Hirschman said, noting it will help the drought-stricken Southeast. ``But it sure would have been great if we'd had one more day of drought.''

Delta Air Lines was experiencing delays of about seven minutes in Atlanta because of the rainy weather, spokeswoman Susan Elliott said Monday. And the airline was also expecting delays in the Northeast, especially in Boston and New York, which had morning rain, Elliott said.

However, Boston's Logan International Airport had no major delays in arrivals or departures as of early Monday morning, according to its Web site.

On Sunday, rain and fog delayed some incoming flights more than two hours in Atlanta, though lines were moving Sunday night.

Things were better in the Midwest and West.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport spokesman Mike Conway said good weather helped keep things moving despite heavier than normal passenger volume.

``Some of our customers are inconvenienced because of delays at other airports, but for the most part we've got a lot of runway capacity here, plenty of gates, plenty of parking,'' he said Monday morning. ``Throw good visibility on top of it, it adds up to a good Thanksgiving weekend.''

At O'Hare International Airport, minor delays were being reported Monday morning as fog rolled into the Chicago area, threatening to cause headaches for travelers during the airport's busiest travel day of the Thanksgiving season. About 237,000 passengers were expected to travel through the nation's second-busiest airport on Monday.

Across town at Midway Airport, some delays were reported as well, mostly because of fog and low visibility at airports further east. About 73,000 travelers were expected at Midway on Monday.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported Sunday that 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.

Not all travelers had a good experience.

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 Sunday.