Thanksgiving travelers load planes, trains, buses and cars

Busy airports, congested roads and trains, and wet, foggy weather in some parts of the country on Sunday made the trip home that much longer for Thanksgiving travelers.

With the Air Transport Association predicting a record 2.24 million passengers, airport officials were bracing for the worst.

''They're all coming back at the same time,'' said Nancy Castles, spokeswoman for Los Angeles International Airport.

She said 205,000 passengers were expected Sunday, up from the estimated 195,000 to 200,000 on the day a year ago.

''It's because the economy is good and people are traveling more,'' Castles said.

San Francisco International Airport also was expecting a deluge of passengers. In the morning, fog forced cancellation of 20 flights and delayed others up to 2 hours.

''We're still going to be seeing the effects of this at midnight tonight. It's just not going to catch up,'' said airport duty manager Denis Richardson.

Things didn't go well for Travis Everhardus, who sat amid a pile of bags next to a United service desk at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. He arrived from Charlotte, N.C., only to find that his flight home to Kalamazoo, Mich., had been canceled, apparently due to fog.

''I'm a little frustrated,'' Everhardus said.

Most delays at Logan International Airport in Boston were about 90 minutes, with longer hold-ups on some flights between city and the West Coast, New York and Chicago.

''Considering the weather, we've been very lucky,'' said Jose Juves, spokesman for the Massachusetts Ports Authority.

It was easy sailing for other travelers despite the threat of cancellations due to labor strife at United Airlines.

''It's been smooth so far,'' said Amy Wang, 26, before she boarded a flight from foggy Chicago to sunny San Diego.

Mechanics for both United and Northwest Airlines, which also had some delays and cancelations, are seeking new labor contracts.

United Airlines spokesman Andy Plews said there had been 31 cancellations - 24 of them related to maintenance - out of 2,300 flights systemwide.

No major delays were reported at airports in Miami, Atlanta and Seattle. And travelers were pleasantly surprised by the lack of long lines at Boston's Logan.

Katie Loosigian got to the airport four hours early for her 1 p.m. flight to Dayton, Ohio - just in case. But she was parked, checked in and ready to board her flight with hours to spare.

''I couldn't believe it when I heard,'' she said. ''But this has been great so far.''

''It's not nearly as bad as it used to be,'' said Linda Murray, a ticket salesperson with United Airlines. ''People seem to have learned to leave a day earlier or a day later. So far, so good.''

Sleet and freezing rain surprised homebound travelers in New England.

More than 60 accidents - some with serious injuries - were reported on the Maine Turnpike, Interstate 295 and other major highways.

In New Hampshire, state police said more than 30 accidents had been reported by early afternoon on black-ice-coated highways.

Freezing rain also wreaked havoc on Rhode Island roads where dozens of wrecks resulting in about 15 injuries were reported around the state.

Amtrak spokeswoman Cecilia Cummings said there were no major delays or problems on its rail lines.

''We've taken precautions,'' she said. ''In the northeast alone, we added 40 extra trains to our service.''

A record 38.9 million Americans - 4 percent more than last year - were expected to travel at least 100 miles from home for the holiday, according to the American Automobile Association.


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