State News

RDU Braces for Busy End to Thanksgiving Weekend

Posted November 24, 2007 11:03 p.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2007 11:36 p.m. EST

— Soldiers traveling through Raleigh-Durham International Airport have a chance to relax before continuing to their final destination.

While delays were under 15 minutes early Sunday, the USO was bracing for one of the biggest travel days of the season as people complete their Thanksgiving travel. That means keeping the kitchen area stuffed with hot dogs, sandwiches and Brunswick stew for the more than 200 military personnel expected to pass through RDU.

The USO center on the second floor of Terminal A at RDU normally sees 65 visitors a day. On the day before Thanksgiving, it received 265 visitors.

At the USO center, servicemen and servicewomen can get a meal, watch television, surf the Internet, play video games or just crash on a comfy recliner. Many are heading to or from Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg and other nearby military bases.

RDU officials said it has been smooth sailing at the airport with no significant delays so far Sunday morning. Some flights even arrived early.

Skies across the nation appeared clear Sunday morning. The FAA showed delays of no more than 15 minutes at major national airports as of 9:45 a.m.

RDU officials said they were expecting an 7 percent increase in traffic this weekend. AAA estimated that 163,000 North Carolinians will take to the skies.

“Record flight delays and congestion in airport terminals will require passengers to practice defensive flying,” David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, said. “We suggest people fly direct when possible, pack appropriately, fly early in the day, use curbside check-in service, and program cell phone numbers for airlines, rental cars and others you may need to contact if there is a flight delay. Know where to complain.”

Nationally, airports are expected to handle 7 percent more passengers this holiday season.