Travelers crowd Bay Area airports

December 23, 2009 11:55:51 AM PST
Bay Area airports are getting slammed on the busiest travel day of the holiday season.

The crowds ebb and flow at San Francisco International Airport on this very busy travel day. Aphrodite Gounaropoulos and her grandma Maria caught the ebb and had two and a half hours before their flight to New York.

"I thought it was going to be way more packed, and it isn't, so it's very surprising," said Aphrodite Gounaropoulos.

Researchers at IHS Global Insight in Massachusetts surveyed 2,000 Californians and found they'll be travelling more this year, than last year, or the year before.

"We are going to see a two percent increase over last year, which is what we have seen pretty much throughout the year. Today will be our busiest day -- about 123,000 will be in and out of the building throughout the day," said SFO spokesman Mike McCarron.

AAA says more than 11 million state residents are expected to travel 50 miles or more over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, an increase of more than 11 percent from 2008. The reason for that, says AAA, is the improving economy. True for some, but not all that ABC7 talked with at the airport Wednesday morning.

"I'm traveling substantially more than I did last year. So far we are seeing a pickup in the economy, at least with my company," said Brentwood resident Burkhard Lehmann.

"We were going to see family anyways, whether it was going to cost a lot or a little we were going to make the trip out," said San Francisco resident Thuy Tran.

Experts advise you check on your flight well ahead of time. In Denver for example, a snowstorm is expected to cause a chain reaction that could impact flights in the Bay Area; a storm expected in Chicago could do the same.

"Your carrier is going to have the most information on your flight. Regardless of your destination, even if you are going to Hawaii or someplace not affected by snow, your plane may start out in Chicago, stop here and then go out to Hawaii. So you just need to double check that you get the most information and status of your flight," said McCarron.

If you're headed out to San Francisco on Wednesday, the long term lots are flashing full -- go there anyways because they will give you a voucher to park in the short term lots at the long term price.


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