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All Clear for Thanksgiving Fliers

Moderate weather and a drop in flights is shaping up to make flying during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend relatively hitch-free this year.

Flights will be packed, especially today, Sunday and Monday - the busiest flying days around the holiday, according to the Air Transport Association (ATA). The airline trade group urges people to get to airports early to minimize hassles.

However, high fuel prices and a sputtering economy have reduced airline capacity to its lowest level in a decade. And fewer flights means better odds of getting to your destination on time, according to airlines and federal data.

Through September, the most recent data available, about 80% of flights arrived on time. With the exception of 2002 and 2003, when traffic plummeted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, that's the best on-time arrival record since the government began collecting data in 1995.

"We're optimistic that there will be minimal disruptions in the system" during the holiday period, said David Castelveter, spokesman for the ATA.

Most of the USA will be spared bad weather today, the Weather Channel predicts. The only exception is Florida, where heavy rains are forecast.

That's good news for fliers going through the busy corridors between the Great Lakes, the Northeast and Atlanta, says Tom Moore, the Weather Channel's lead meteorologist. Another plus for holiday travelers this year: Airlines are reporting the fewest lost or damaged bags since 2002.

The reduction in flights has been dramatic. From 2000 to this year, the average number of daily flights fell 22% to 23,400.

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