Passengers pack O'Hare, Midway airports

December 23, 2010 4:28:00 PM PST
Two days before Christmas the nation's airports were buzzing with passengers. An estimated 1.8 million people are expected to travel through Chicago's two airports during the Christmas holiday week.

Planes and trains were packed Thursday as millions headed to their destinations for Christmas.

Passengers who talked to ABC7 said they had no major problems while traveling Thursday; they were just dreaming about getting away.

Alisha and Jola Coplin flew out of O'Hare to spend Christmas in Paris. The grandmother and granddaughter have been dreaming about it together for years.

"We'll get to see new things, and I'll get to go to the Louvre," said Jola.

The pair is part of the busiest travel day of the season. One-hundred-ninety-thousand passengers were expected Thursday at O'Hare-- and nearly 63,000 at Midway.

"It's busy, but it's not overly busy, because I think people understand about getting to the airport two hours in advance," said Karen Pride, Chicago Department of Aviation.

No major delays nor cancellations.

Most travelers said they'd been having a hassle-free travel day.

"It's great. We came on the el and there was nobody there," said traveler Kay Lefler. "We didn't have to wait a long time for the bus. It was good. It's a good thing."

But you'll find more people on the roadways.

AAA Chicago motor club says 9 out of 10 will drive to their holiday destinations...like the Kowach family heading to Northwest Indiana.

"For the most part we haven't seen anybody," said motorist Dan Kowach. "We've been steady traffic. Everybody paying attention and going along down the road."

Gas prices are up.

In Illinois, the average price per gallon right now is $3.15. Last year it was $2.63-- a 52-cent increase.

"We've seen them slowly, steadily climbing up over the last few weeks," said AAA's Nick Jarmusz,"and we expect it's gonna hold about where it is at least through the New Year."

There are plenty of travelers avoiding steep fuel prices and traffic by hopping on Amtrak trains-- and they're crowded. Amtrak officials said volume was up 20 percent over a normal Thursday.

Greyhound bus officials said Thursday was 40 percent busier than a typical day in December.

O'Hare and Midway airports are offering a free gift-wrapping service for passengers once they're through the security checkpoints.


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