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The Daily Tar Heel

Bad Weather Slows Holiday Travel

The Associated Press

Busy airports, congested roads, crowded trains, and wet, foggy weather in some parts of the country 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 across the nation had prepared 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.

In the morning, fog at San Francisco International Airport forced cancellation of 20 flights and delayed others up to two hours.

Most delays at Logan International Airport in Boston were about 90 minutes, with longer holdups on some flights between the 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. Mechanics for both United and Northwest Airlines, which also had some delays and cancellations, are seeking new labor contracts.

United Airlines said there had been 66 cancellations - 49 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.

At Albany International Airport, volunteer "ambassadors" and a group of local gospel singers were enlisted to calm travelers' nerves. By afternoon, the flight boards were filling with delays as rainstorms covered much of the Northeast.

Sleet and freezing rain affected 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 resulted in about 15 injuries.

In Pennsylvania, at least 19 people were injured in a 50-car pileup on Interstate 81.

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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