Fewer people expected to fly over holiday weekend

Sunday, May 26, 2002

LOS ANGELES -- Americans were inclined to take to the road on Memorial Day weekend as terrorism fears caused many travelers to avoid flying.

Traditionally, the Memorial Day holiday is one of the nation's busiest. But this year, it comes on the heels of warnings about possible terrorist attacks.

An estimated 35.2 million people will be traveling during the three-day weekend, a slight increase over last year, according to the American Automobile Association.

Most, about 29.3 million, will go by motor vehicle, up from 28.7 million last year, the AAA said. But they expect the number of air travelers to drop to 4.1 million from 4.4 million in 2001.

"Flying is such a risk since September 11, especially on this holiday weekend when a lot of people will be traveling by plane," said Jeffrey McClendon, 44, as he bought gas in Pasadena and prepared to drive to San Luis Obispo.

Others seemed willing to live with the risks.

"This is a war with no end," said Ken Lincoln, 68, who flew from Los Angeles International Airport to Albuquerque, N.M. "We'll always have security problems."

Rob Thomas, 33, flew from Phoenix to Omaha, Neb., and said he doubted terrorists would try to hijack more planes. "I don't think they have the guts to do it twice," he said.

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