November 27, 2000 Chicago Sun-Times

Sunday likely busiest day in aviation history

November 27, 2000

BY SUSAN DODGE STAFF REPORTER

Travelers trying to get back home after Thanksgiving faced rain, fog, flight delays and crowded expressways Sunday, which was expected to be the busiest travel day in aviation history.

Airline passengers heading to the East Coast had the longest delays because of freezing rain, fog, snow and low visibility in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Newark, N.J.

The Air Transport Association predicted a record 2.24 million passengers would travel Sunday.

At O'Hare Airport, the 260,000 passengers arriving and departing Sunday was about the same number as last year, said Monique Bond, Chicago's aviation department spokeswoman. O'Hare and Midway Airport passengers faced flight delays and a handful of cancellations because of weather, Bond said.

Chicago's weather didn't help matters, with low clouds creating visibility problems, along with drizzle. Monday's weather was expected to improve, becoming partly sunny with temperatures climbing to the low 40s, according to Jim Kaplan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

United Airlines had a higher-than-usual number of maintenance-related cancellations, said Andy Plews, an airline spokesman. As of 5 p.m. Sunday, United had canceled 66 flights--49 of them related to maintenance--out of 2,300 flights systemwide. The airline and mechanics have been involved in bitter contract negotiations.