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Weather cooperates with holiday travel

Weather cooperates with holiday travel

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ATLANTA — The journey home at the end of the long Thanksgiving weekend was smooth sailing for many travelers Sunday as the weather cooperated and more people had scheduled their flights to avoid the rush.

“They’re in a pretty happy mood,’’ Bobby Anderson, a 73-year-old shoe shiner, said while watching the largely relaxed crowd at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, the world’s busiest airport.

During the middle of the day, “On Time’’ flashed next to most flight numbers on the airport’s departure boards and security checkpoint lines took less than 10 minutes.

Travelers across most of the nation had dry and relatively mild weather for their drives and flights home, except for freezing temperatures on the northern Plains and gray, slushy weather in parts of the Pacific Northwest. Chicago’s temperature edged above 60 degrees.

Ken Edwards and his 11-year-old son went to the Atlanta airport nearly three hours early to make sure they had plenty of time to negotiate lines, but traffic was smooth, parking was easy and lines were short.

“We were expecting the worst,’’ said Edwards, 44, of Albany, Ga. “I’m not sure what’s going on, but everything’s going perfect.’’

More than 290,000 travelers were expected to go through the Atlanta airport on Sunday.

Midday crowds also weren’t as bad as expected at Boston’s Logan International Airport. People are spreading out Thanksgiving travel plans over several days instead of hitting the airport all at the same time, said Danny Levy, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Port Authority that operates Logan.

At Logan’s US Airways terminal, more flights were arriving early than late at one point, but Jess O’Sullivan was on one of the exceptions. His flight home to Charlotte, N.C., was delayed by two hours and he didn’t know why.

“We thought it was too good to be true, and it was,’’ O’Sullivan said.

Luck also wasn’t with Michael McGarry of Hoboken, N.J., who said lines were horrible when he left Newark Liberty International on Sunday morning on his way to Miami for vacation. He said there was no effort to speed up things for first-class travelers like himself or for people who were close to their flight times.

“The premium I paid was not justified today,’’ McGarry said after landing in Miami.

The unusually warm weather at Chicago was “definitely a blessing. Both airports are reporting no major delays,’’ city Department of Aviation spokeswoman Wendy Abrams said of O’Hare International and Midway International airports.

More than 1.9 million travelers were expected to travel through Chicago’s airports over the seven-day holiday travel period ending Monday, Abrams said.

Elsewhere, gloomy, damp weather in the morning put a damper on travelers’ morale in the Northwest.

Nearly all flights into and out of San Francisco International Airport were on time Saturday morning, but by early afternoon the airport reported an average 46-minute delay for all inbound and outbound domestic and Canadian flights.

The change coincided with light showers and decreasing visibility in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The weather did not affect air traffic at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said Gary Mayer with the Federal Aviation Administration. Farther inland, however, wind-blown snow caused poor visibility at Snoqualmie Pass, which carries Interstate 90 across the Cascade Range that divides Washington state. Tire chains or four-wheel-drive were required for all vehicles because of packed snow and slush in the pass, state highway officials said.

On Georgia’s highways, 20 people had been killed as of noon Sunday, matching the State Patrol’s forecast. There had been more than 3,000 accidents — about 100 more than predicted — with nearly 800 injuries, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

Associated Press writers Jimmy Golen in Boston, Megan Reichgott in Chicago and Jessica Gresko in Miami contributed to this report.

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