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Updated Nov 25, 2012 - 6:49 pm

Phoenix airport busy but calm on busy travel day

PHOENIX (AP) _ The airport in Phoenix was humming Sunday but travelers were
seeing few delays as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend wrapped up and families
shed tears as loved ones went their separate ways.

Long but quick-moving lines at baggage checks and relatively short lines at
security checkpoints were the norm at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
as the travel crush got under way.

Some families, like Mary Ellen Valenzuela’s, were sending students back to
college. With two boys away at school and her Army officer husband stationed in
Texas, she walked her son Matthew as close to the gate as she could get. All
three of the Valenzuela men came home for the holiday.

“It’s so great to have our family together,” she said. “We haven’t been
together for probably over a year in our house in Goodyear, so it was a very
special Thanksgiving.”

Matthew Valenzuela, an Air Force Academy freshman, said his long weekend with
family was refreshing after the constant pressure at the academy.

“It’s relaxing, that for sure. You’re constantly going at the Academy,” he
said. “It’s just good to kind of unwind a little bit when you get home.”

For Jose Loera, of Glendale, sending his youngest child, 18-year-old Yvonne,
back to New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M., wasn’t that
difficult.

“I also have another older daughter, so I got used to about my kids going away
to college. It’s nice, a nice feeling,” he said.

Away from home for the first time in the fall, his daughter was elated to be
home.

“She’s very, very happy, but in the meantime she knows that it’s only for a
few days and then she needs to go back to school. It’s a process,” Loera said.

Most flights leaving Phoenix showed on-time departures, and many parents were
pleased to see short lines. Both Jose Loera and Mary Ellen Valenzuela said they
were amazed when they approached the security checkpoints and found
shorter-than-usual lines for their children to navigate through.

“I can’t believe that, they’re doing a great job today,” Valenzuela said. “I
thought it was going to be just a disaster.”

Loera was more realistic about the early calm at the airport on the busy travel
day: “I guess because it’s still in the morning. As the day goes on, it’s going
to get busier and busier.”

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