Millions of people take to the roads, air for Thanksgiving holiday

Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:44pm EST
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(Reuters) - Nearly 44 million Americans are hitting the road for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, most by automobile, with some in Northeast states hard hit by Superstorm Sandy moving their feast to warmer, drier quarters.

Airports across most of the country faced few delays on Wednesday, but not Chicago, where thick fog reduced visibility forcing hundreds of flight delays at the city's two airports and the cancellation of more than 130 flights in the morning.

At early afternoon Chicago time, passengers flying in and out of O'Hare International Airport faced delays of about 40 minutes. Flights out of Midway had delays of about 45 minutes, according to, an aviation information company.

In Canada, flights in and out of Winnipeg International were subject to delays of about 25 minutes, FlightAware said.

The "very dense fog" was expected to gradually ease in Chicago, while rain, wind and mountain snow were expected to impede travel in the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

The weather service said the eastern third of the United States was expected to stay dry and pleasant for the holiday.

AAA expects 43.6 million people to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, up about 0.7 percent from last year - and a fourth consecutive year of growth since the severe 2008 economic downturn cut travel on the holiday by 25 percent.

"We are on a slow climb back," AAA New York spokesman Robert Sinclair Jr. said on Wednesday in a telephone interview. "It's a climb, but it is a slow one, and perhaps not enough for people to really make a significant commitment to travel."

VIA Rail Canada is helping Amtrak meet the holiday crush of passengers after Sandy, which flooded several railroad equipment yards in New York and New Jersey. The storm hit New Jersey Transit particularly hard, damaging one-third of its locomotives and a quarter of its passenger cars.   Continued...

People check flight times ona schedule board at LaGuardia Airport in New York November 21, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton