TIME Transportation

Normal Air Travel Resumes as Thanksgiving Winds Down

AAA Predicts The Busiest Thanksgiving Travel Period In Nine Years
Scott Olson—2016 Getty Images Passengers arrive for their flights at O'Hare International Airport on November 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.

FAA data showed most U.S. airports with delays of 15 minutes or less on Sunday afternoon

NEW YORK — Millions of Americans made their way back home Sunday after a long Thanksgiving weekend, facing minimal stress and strain as they traveled by air, rail or road.

Federal Aviation Administration data showed most U.S. airports with delays of 15 minutes or less Sunday afternoon. A large volume of passengers at LaGuardia Airport, in New York, and windy conditions at New Jersey’s Newark International Airport, led to slightly longer delays, the FAA data showed.

Lines at airline counters and security checkpoints were short and flowing quickly at New York’s Kennedy Airport. Passenger Susan Merced said she overestimated her travel time, budgeting more than two hours to pass through security before her flight to New Orleans.

At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, security lines were fairly long at 7 a.m. Sunday but subsided by afternoon, said David Mould, a spokesman for Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Lines at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Cleveland’s Hopkins International Airport were long but moving smoothly.

The Transportation Security Administration anticipated screening about 2.5 million passengers on Sunday, about 500,000 more than an average weekday, spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. Air travelers were moving through security checkpoints at airports across the nation “quite smoothly” Sunday afternoon, Farbstein said, noting that the agency brought in additional officers on overtime to handle the influx of passengers.

In New Hampshire, Gerry Mandelbaum, owner of Amoskeag Black Car company, in Manchester, said travelers seemed in good spirits as his drivers shuffled them to and from the airport.

“So far, everyone I’ve talked to sounds pretty good, and I would have a good sense of that because I do have a lot of stressed customers,” Mandelbaum said. “Today’s been an especially busy Sunday. I’d say we’re 20 to 30 percent over normal today.”

At a rest area in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, Harry Forsberg, of Trenton, expressed thanks that the traffic wasn’t as bad as he’d expected.

“There were a lot of cars obviously, but no one cut us off or flipped us off. It was a holiday miracle!” he said with a laugh.

Forsberg, who works for an engineering firm, said Monday may be tough. “You just know everyone will be dragging on Monday. Thanksgiving is a great holiday, but it tires you out.”

It wasn’t smooth everywhere.

In California, the National Weather Service warned travelers about heavy winds and potential blowing snow on busy Interstate 5. Weather specialist Bonnie Bartling said wind gusts could reach 70 mph at the Grapevine mountain pass north of Los Angeles on Sunday.

Washington state got more than 2 feet of snow in 24 hours. Besides driving problems, officials said there could be an increased risk of landslides.

Travelers in Oregon faced a winter storm warning for the Cascades from Sunday afternoon until 6 p.m. Monday.

State police in Connecticut said 51 people were arrested on driving-under-the-influence charges and troopers issued nearly 900 speeding tickets during a five-day holiday crackdown. One person was killed and 42 others were injured in nearly 400 crashes, they said.

AAA had estimated 48.7 million Americans would travel this Thanksgiving week.


Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko in Washington, Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire and Bruce Shipkowski in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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