Thanksgiving travelers got help from favorable weather in most of the U.S. on Tuesday, but flight delays piled up at airports around the country by day's end.
Wet and frigid forecasts threaten to make driving more challenging in the next day or two.
By late Tuesday afternoon, fewer than 150 U.S. flights had been canceled -- a low number all things considered. But 3,000 flights were delayed, according to tracking service FlightAware.
The largest number of delays -- about 400 -- was at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where dense fog slowed the pace of departures and arrivals. Flights going to Boston and Newark, New Jersey, were also more likely to be delayed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. So were flights to San Francisco, where visibility has been reduced due to smoke from the wildfire in Paradise, California.
Boardings were up at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, according to director Kelly Johnson. The airport, also known as XNA, will be up 1,199 boardings or 5.36 percent compared to the same 10-day travel period last year.
Kathy Farr of Springdale was at XNA Wednesday morning waiting on her flight. She was traveling to Jamestown, New York. Farr said it doesn't bother her to travel on the Thanksgiving holiday. She usually does not have any problems. She prefers to travel on Thanksgiving rather than Christmas holiday.
Chef Callan Sinclair has been in the area on a business trip. He was flying back to Santiago, Domingo Republic. They don't celebrate Thanksgiving there, but Sinclair said he was going home to cook Thanksgiving dinner for his wife and employees. "We are going to have a nice Thanksgiving," he said. Sinclair did not expect to have any problems on the flight.
Paul Coalson of Rogers was heading to Jacksonville, Fla. Coalson said he travels a lot for work, so he did not have any problems flying on holidays. "The airlines are going to do whatever they are going to do," he said. "You just have to be patient." Coalson believed that there would not be any delays. "Fortunately the weather is good on the east coast and hopefully the weather will be good Sunday when I come back," he said.
Heather Krone, who is from Indianapolis, Ind., came in to XNA Wednesday morning. She was waiting at the airport for her mother to pick her up. Krone said she took the first available flight and did not have any problems on her trip. She enjoys traveling on holidays. "It's kind of fun because you get to hear different stories from people," she said.
As for national automobile travel, driving was difficult in parts of New England. The remnants of a recent snowstorm left messy road conditions across much of the region, and the forecast called for more snow on Wednesday followed by blustery winds and high temperatures in the teens on Thanksgiving Day in northern New England.
Rain, with snow in the higher elevations, could slow traffic Wednesday in much of California, Oregon and Washington.
The AAA auto club predicts that 54.3 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday, the highest number since 2005 and about a 5 percent increase over last year. AAA says 48 million will drive and 4.7 million will fly.
Looking at a longer, 12-day period, the industry trade group Airlines for America predicts that a record 30.6 million people will fly on U.S. carriers, up from 29 million last year. That's more than 2.5 million per day.
The airline group expects that Wednesday will be the second busiest day of the holiday period behind only Sunday, when many travelers will be returning home.
Travelers should prepare for long lines at airport checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration expected to screen about 25 million people between Monday and next Monday, an increase of 5 percent over last year.
The airline group's numbers are bigger because its forecast covers an extra day and it counts connecting passengers again, while TSA only counts those people once when they pass the checkpoint.
TSA says the holiday rush really started last Friday -- similar to last year but earlier than in previous years. The Sunday following Thanksgiving is expected to be one of TSA's 10 busiest days ever.
NW News on 11/22/2018
Print Headline: Thanksgiving air-travel rush gets off to a good start