JWA travelers give thanks for short lines

JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT — Foothill Ranch couple Elysia Eberhart and John Sleeper knew they'd have to wait for hours if they were going to fly the day before Thanksgiving.

But the wait at John Wayne Airport wasn't where they expected. The newly minted Terminal C was virtually empty when they walked in Wednesday afternoon.

About 10 minutes passed from the time they got in line for Southwest Airlines' ticket counter and headed over to the security line.

Instead, their wait was on the other side, as they waited for their 3 p.m. flight to arrive.

"I thought we would have to wait probably 45 minutes during security," Eberhart said.

About noon, the wait was less than 10 minutes in the airport's newest terminal.

About 42.5 million Americans are expected to travel over the holiday — it's a 4% increase from last year, according to the Auto Club of Southern California.

JWA expects to see slightly more passengers this year than the 187,000 who passed through the airport last Thanksgiving weekend, said airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge.

The crowds were slightly larger in terminals A and B, but not by a significant amount.

Bonnie Covey was on her way to Colorado on Wednesday to see her two daughters and — for the first time — her granddaughters. The trip would be her first time flying.

"I've been praying a lot," she said.

Covey said the trip started on a good note, with lines at the airport almost nonexistent.

"It's beautiful," she said.

San Rafael native Laura Madonna found herself in a similar situation while sitting on a bench outside the security gate to kill time. She tried to catch an earlier flight to Oakland but missed it, and said at least she doesn't have to stress about the usual fracas associated with holiday flying.

She said her past experiences on Thanksgiving travel have been "tortuous," full of long lines, traffic and weather delays.

"This is bliss," she said. "You can do a little bit of work, no lines out of the door. There's not even a lot of traffic!"


Twitter: @JosephSerna

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