Tuesday, November 26, 2002

After year off, many pack bags for holiday

By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

If you are traveling for Thanksgiving, expect lots of company.

Unlike last year, when many Americans stayed close to home following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, more will be traveling this year by car or plane, according to a survey by the Travel Industry Association for AAA. The trade group predicts an increase of nearly 8 percent of people traveling more than 50 miles.

  If you fly:
• Do not wrap gifts.
• Call the airline to verify baggage weight and size restrictions.
• Everyone over 16 must have a photo I.D.
• Limit carry-ons to one bag and one personal item.
• Always carry on medicine, cash, jewelry, passports, and other valuables.
• Call ahead to verify flight is on time.
• Label luggage inside and out with name, telephone number, address and destination.
  If you drive:
• Observe speed limits and make sure every passenger is buckled in.
• Designate a driver who will not drink.
• Allow time for congestion and road or lane closures.
  Sources: Cincinnati AAA, Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, FAA, Kentucky Department of Highways and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Since 9-11, airlines have scaled back on flights. With 5.1 million people expected to fly this weekend - compared to 4.8 million a year ago - airports are expected to be packed. Those flying are urged to arrive at least two hours prior to scheduled departure - earlier if traveling with small children.

"The key thing you want to focus on is patience and allowing extra time," said Sandra Guile, spokeswoman for Cincinnati AAA.

Be aware that many airlines are cracking down on weight and size limits for luggage and will charge extra for bags that exceed those limits, said Theresa Macey, manager of the AAA Travel Agency of Northwest Ohio.

Call your airline to determine weight limits. Effective Monday, Northwest Airlines will reduce the weight limits from 72 to 50 pounds for each piece of checked luggage.

Still, 86 percent of travelers - 36 million people - will drive to their Thanksgiving destinations, helping make the long holiday weekend the deadliest of the year.

Last year, eight Ohioans lost their lives in car crashes. Six of those were not wearing seat belts, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

In Kentucky , enforcement will be stepped up for speed violations and impaired driving, according to Bob Yeager, manager of District 6 for the Kentucky Department of Highways.

Drivers will see higher gas prices this year - 1.29 per gallon for unleaded regular compared to $1.10 a year ago, according to the AAA.

E-mail rbillman@enquirer.com

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