Getaway Day Airport Services Has Some Travelers Giving Thanks

The rush is on at airports across the country --and now the waiting begins.

Those choosing to fly this year for the Thanksgiving holiday are already dealing with serious weather-related delays.  The Pacific Northwest and northern California were expecting rain through Wednesday and snow in the Rocky Mountains and other ranges. At least three major airports including Philadelphia, Newark and La Guardia are all experiencing ground delays of up to an hour.  The rest of the country was expected to stay dry weather through Thanksgiving, but the Federal Aviation Administration reported few other early disruptions.

For the thousands of passengers who face potentially long delays, there is a little silver lining in it all.  Airports and airlines around the country are helping to take the edge off by giving out freebies and offering some extra special treatment for customers  -- that many are giving thanks for.  

At O'Hare International Airport in Chicago --where departure boards show most flights as "on time" and delays are only minimal --there's free coffee and hot chocolate for American Airlines passengers in Terminal 3. If the extra jolt of caffeine isn't enough to cheer up stressed out travelers there's also a guy dressed up in a full size turkey outfit passing out free candy.

One couple flying from Chicago to Dallas for Thanksgiving were pleasantly surprised by the unexpected freebies, saying, "it's so nice! We're lucky, so far our flight is only delayed three minutes."

At the Los Angeles International Airport, which was declared by Orbitz as the nation's busiest airport this Thanksgiving, beating out Chicago O'Hare, Orlando, San Francisco and Boston Logan for the top five, they instituted a program to help simmer tensions.  Called NICE, which stands for "Neutralize Irritations Customers Experience," traffic officers are giving drivers who hog loading zones polite instructions to move instead of tickets - and coupons for free coffee.

More On This...

LAX is expecting some 1.8 million visitors through the weekend. Flights are more than 90 percent booked but so far all are on time Wednesday.

This year more than 42 million Americans are traveling somewhere for Thanksgiving. Most of them, about 90 percent, will be driving, according to AAA Travel.

Despite what everyone thinks about the day before Thanksgiving being the busiest day to fly, that's not really the case. The Air Transport Association (ATA) says the three days with the most airport traffic around Thanksgiving are actually, Sunday November 27, Monday November 28 and Friday November 18.

ATA expects about 23 million travelers will fly during the 12 day period surrounding Thanksgiving, which is 2 percent fewer travelers than last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.