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Have holiday, will travel

November 25, 1999

Amy R. Spurgeon

NEWPORT BEACH -- At 6:52 a.m. Wednesday, while many people were still

snug between their sheets, John Wayne Airport was hopping.

And so were the Sky Caps."It's a good day to make money," Charles Goolsby

said between customers. "And it's only going to get busier."

Considered JWA's busiest day of the year, airport parking had reached 47%

capacity by late morning, according to JWA spokeswoman Nghia Nguyen.

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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

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