And that's after the airport expanded its parking lot in May, providing
travelers with an additional 2,000 parking spaces.
"Quite honestly, it is what we expected for a holiday," said Nguyen.
Many travelers tried to beat the afternoon and early evening rushes by
booking early morning flights out of town.
"We want to get the heck out of Dodge before it gets too crowded," said
Laguna Hills resident Holly Ohlig. Ohlig, accompanied by five family
members, said traveling the day before Thanksgiving was the only option
because her kids had school.
During the Thanksgiving weekend, more than 2 million Southern
Californians will drive more than 100 miles and 25,700 fliers will pass
through JWA. More than 280 planes either arrived or departed Wednesday.
Richard Luehrs, president of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, said
traffic doesn't necessarily translate into big business in Newport Beach.
Typically, the holidays are a little soft in Newport Beach, but locals
make up for it in dinner tabs.
"We are not that kind of a destination," Luehrs said. "But we do
tremendous business in turkey dinners."
Luehrs said many families opt for reservations instead of cooking their
own meals. Local dining establishments, such as the Four Seasons, The
Ritz and the Arches, will do robust business over the weekend.
"Some people just don't want to mess with it," Luehrs said. "This weekend
really starts the holiday season."
The Automobile Club of Southern California has prepared a laundry list of
precautions for holiday travelers. Tips include getting enough sleep
(drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving), making sure automobile
fluid levels and tire pressures are checked, calling ahead to see if your
route is clear and making sure that sleeping children in the back seat
are buckled up.
A second wave of last-minute travelers are expected to pass through JWA
today and many of the major airlines have taken extra steps to make the
experience as pleasant as possible.
"With increased family travelers, we prepare by getting more wheelchairs