Few flying this Thanksgiving

CHICAGO (AP) — Travelers breezed through airport terminals Wednesday and drivers cruised open roads, the effects of a sour economy blamed for keeping people closer to home at the start of the annual Thanksgiving rush.

Even though gas prices fell and airlines offered last-minute deals, many Americans appeared to be skipping trips this year. San Francisco resident Sharon McKellar called the Miami airport “shockingly quiet” after flying in overnight to visit family.

At Boston’s Logan International Airport, Alicia Kelly, 47, traveling with her husband and two children to Miami to spend the holidays with her family, said it was the lightest Thanksgiving travel she’s ever seen. “We have waited in no lines so far,” she said.

Security lines moved along briskly at under 10 minutes at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport. At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, travelers found parking spots in the front row of the lot and no wait for check-in and security. The Delta terminal was nearly empty.

“This is crazy. There’s no one here. It’s quieter than on most weekdays,” said Ryan Sullivan, who was flying to New York with his wife and two kids.

Nationally, the Automobile Association of America says 41 million Americans were expected to travel over 50 miles for the holiday, down about 1.5 percent or 600,000 people from last Thanksgiving. Flying is expected to be down more sharply, about 7 percent, than about 1 percent for driving.

“The economy is in such bad shape. … They’re still really hesitant to take that trip,” said Beth Mosher, spokeswoman for AAA Chicago.

Even though airlines offered last-minute fares in an attempt to get more people in the air, it may take until after the first of the year to know if it worked, said Graeme Wallace, chief technical officer for farecompare.com, a consumer airline ticket research Web site.

“With the economy tanking, they’re thinking, ‘Do I want to spend $400 for a 1,200 mile trip?”’ Wallace said.

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