Travelers Take Off On Thanksgiving Holidays

The newly remodeled Gulfport Biloxi International Airport is being put to the test. Families are flocking to the airport to catch Thanksgiving flights, or pick up loved ones.

Early birds like Creacy Box Bairfield landed on the coast Tuesday and got a head start on their celebrations. Bairfield's trip from Reno was a bit longer than she anticipated.

"It was a bit of a mess yesterday, and a bit of a challenge," she said while putting her luggage into her mother's trunk. "But it's coming together. Now that I'm here, it's a lot better."

Bairfield and her two year old daughter Madeline got stuck in Dallas. They landed in Gulfport a day late, but in plenty of time to enjoy the holidays with their family. Gay Box is Bairfield's mother.

"We were sitting there on pins and needles last night, hoping she would make it in. But had to wait until today," Mrs. Box said.

There were plenty of smiles and hugs in the waiting area at Gulfport Biloxi International Airport. Lesley White flew back to Gulfport from Howard University.

"It feels wonderful to be home," the college student said. "I spend nine months out of the year up there. So I'm really glad to be home."

Even White's little brother sounded happy that his sister was home for a few days.

"I'm actually really grateful that she's home," Andre White said. "I'd prefer to go to D.C. because I'd like to fly, but that's okay, as long as she's home."

Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the airport's busiest travel holidays. Typically, the largest crowds arrive here on Wednesday. But with lower airfares offered on Tuesday, flying to the coast a day early sounded very appetizing.

Airport officials said most of their Tuesday and Wednesday flights were oversold. Most passengers didn't notice the crowds. In fact, a St. Louis woman who came to spend Thanksgiving with her niece said, "It's a great day, a great day to travel. I had a great trip."

As Thanksgiving gets closer, the baggage claim area will continue to draw crowds, as families get together and celebrate the holiday.

According to airline analysts, 27 million people will fly somewhere in the U.S. over the Thanksgiving weekend. That's a four percent increase over 2006.