“Everything is going smoothly,” Atlanta airport spokeswoman Myrna White said Wednesday. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was relatively calm Wednesday morning but was expected to get busier later.
With a sluggish economic recovery, some travelers were feeling the pinch of pricy airline tickets but weren’t willing to give up a chance to celebrate the holiday with family and friends.
Shawnette Bryant has been on a temporary assignment in Syracuse, N.Y., for her job with AT&T for the last 14 months and returned to her native Atlanta to enjoy cooking Thanksgiving dinner for family and friends. She said she got a fare alert from Delta in mid-October saying her ticket would cost less than $200, but she wasn’t sure of her plans then, so she waited. She kept checking fares, and when she was finally ready to buy her ticket about three weeks ago, the price had climbed to $292. She went ahead and bought it.
Bryant decided to take some extra time off to relax with her family and enjoy some of her favorite hometown holiday traditions, like the lighting of the big Christmas tree at Atlanta’s Lenox Square Mall, and she won’t return to Syracuse until Dec. 1. Another reason for the extended stay is that she may not make it back home for Christmas.
“I still might be able to make it home, but I’m not sure,” said Bryant, 40. “If I can find a ticket for about $200 I’ll do it. If not, I’m not sure.”
Chad Werner, a 38-year-old finance attorney from Atlanta, munched on a pastry in the atrium of the airport while waiting for his flight to Albuquerque, N.M. His in-laws live in Santa Fe, and his wife and children flew out a couple days earlier. His father-in-law paid for plane tickets for the kids, and Werner and his wife bought their tickets, shelling out $522 for hers and $660 for his.
“At least it’s a direct flight,” he said.
The expensive tickets weren’t prompting any conscious cost-cutting in other areas, but he did feel the sting, he said.
“I’m not cutting back in any identifiable place, but you feel guilty about every other dollar,” he said. “I’m also buying a house right now, so I’m in that phase of hemorrhaging money anyway. So maybe my mindset is different.”
Brent Collett had a connection through Atlanta on his way to Baltimore. He recently moved to Charleston, S.C., and this was the first year he’s had to travel to meet up with family members for the holiday. He doesn’t fly often but decided it was worth it to pay $230 for a ticket.
“It was probably cheaper that gas would have been,” the 22-year-old said with a shrug.
He’s also heard the tales of crowded post-Thanksgiving airports and decided to take an extra day off from his job at a sheet metal manufacturing plant so he could fly back Monday.
“I figured I’d take an extra day off to be safe and not have to deal with the madness,” he said.