O'Hare lines moving, expressways clogged for Thanksgiving travelers

CHICAGO (WLS) -- If you're one of the thousands of people flying through O'Hare International Airport Wednesday, there are plenty of factors that could stress you out. But a new change aims to make things go a little smoother.

By all counts, this Thanksgiving travel period is expected to be extraordinarily busy. The TSA said it will be the biggest one they've ever had. AAA estimates nearly 49 million people will travel in some way over the next few days.

Orbitz said more passengers - tens of thousands of them - will pass through O'Hare than any other airport in the country over Thanksgiving.

"It's all about the volume of travelers headed through these airports and yes, O'Hare is the busiest in the country," said Jeanenne Tornatore, Senior Editor, Orbitz.

To avoid the long, problematic lines O'Hare saw back in the spring, the TSA added more employees and K-9 units and opened all security checkpoints to expedite the security process.

"Try to get here more than two hours early to make sure you get through security on time, make sure you make flight," said Robert Scherer, who traveled to Florida.

Travelers built extra time into their plans Wednesday and were met with streamlined service at security and at baggage claim at O'Hare.

"We had to wake up at like 3 a.m. because we knew traffic was going to be pretty rough," said Christina Wood, who traveled to Austin, Texas.

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Midday drivers packed area expressways Wednesday as they headed out to their Thanksgiving destinations.

On the Kennedy Expressway at Fulton Avenue, traffic was stop and go all afternoon.

For so many Thanksgiving travelers, crossing through Chicago is an inevitable part of the journey.

"How do you people do this?" asked Bill McKee, passing through the city on his way to Wisconsin. "Is this typical?"

Traffic is heavier this year than in the past few years due to cheap gas prices.

"It's the highest volume of travelers we've seen since 2007," said Beth Mosher from AAA. "We have over a million more travelers than this time last year."

Starting Wednesday, passengers can text the word "taxi" to 312-883-8404 at O'Hare or 312-883-7969 at Midway International Airport to find out how long the taxi wait time is.

According to Waze, the peak travel time on the roads during this holiday travel period will be about 2 p.m. Wednesday, with the most people on the roads between 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The least congested times for travel will be Thanksgiving morning and next Monday.

Metra plans to help people get out of the city a little faster Wednesday. They added extra trains to the afternoon schedule. But that means some evening routes are canceled. CLICK HERE to see the updated schedule. Metra will operate on a Sunday schedule for the holiday.
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