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US Thanksgiving Travelers Can Expect Crowded Roads, Airports - 2003-11-27

Thirty-six million Americans are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday. They can expect crowded highways and airports.

The American Automobile Association says this will be the busiest Thanksgiving holiday in two years because the economy is improving, gasoline prices are stable, and the weather is good for most of the country.

At least four million people are expected to travel by air, including this woman in Los Angeles. "I'm expecting long lines. I'm hoping that I'm wrong, but I am expecting that because it's the day before Thanksgiving," she said.

For the early birds, however, who traveled early Wednesday, airport lines were short, despite stepped-up security that now requires the screening of all luggage.

More than half a million people are expected to travel by rail, according to the national railway system Amtrak. Most other travelers will be on the highways.

By midday Wednesday, traffic heading out of Los Angeles was starting to get heavy. But one woman arriving from Arizona had few problems. "Traffic was good coming in. It wasn't bad coming in. I'm going to Oakland, California," she said.

Thanksgiving is a time when families gather for traditional turkey dinners. After the holiday Thursday, many people will take a vacation day on Friday, to enjoy a four-day holiday weekend ending Sunday.

For Los Angeles travelers who are not visiting family members, the most popular destination is Las Vegas. Other regional getaways include the Grand Canyon, San Francisco and Yosemite National Park.