Traveling for Turkey This Year? You're Not Alone! - NBC4 Washington

Traveling for Turkey This Year? You're Not Alone!

Dulles prepares for an influx of holiday travelers

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    Thanksgiving is just nine days away and many people's focus has shifted to holiday travel. Travel experts said an estimated 24 million people are expected to fly nationwide on the holiday. 

    With thousands of travelers from the D.C. area expected to fly, many expect delays but transportation officials are taking steps to prevent that from happening.

    Washington Dulles International Airport will open its fourth runway this week. It is the first new runway to be built at Dulles since the airport opened in 1962.

    The new 9,500 foot runway was built to alleviate flight delays because the airport's three-runway configuration has been overwhelmed with heavy flight traffic.

    Planes will begin using the additional platform on Nov. 20.

    A fifth runway at Dulles is also planned, officials said.

    Airports in Chicago and Seattle will also open new runways later this week.

    Later today President Bush will announce measures designed to ease congestion at the country's busiest airports.  Like last year, it is expected that restricted military airspace will be opened up to commercial airliners.  The "Thanksgiving Express Lanes" will stretch from Florida to Maine and may also be opened up on the west coast.  In years past, the airspace has been freed up during the 5 busiest travel days.

    Meanwhile, AAA forecasts that a total of 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.4 percent from last year.

    According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index (LTI), which is based on available rates this holiday, Thanksgiving holiday travelers can expect to pay more for airfares and car rentals this year. Air passengers can expect airfares eight percent higher than last year.

    Thanksgiving travelers across the country, however, will find bargains when looking to book their hotel stay this year. Rates for AAA Three Diamond hotels are down an average of 10 percent compared to last year.