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Hartsfield-Jackson projects record numbers

By Greg Gelpi

Normally, Kim Sweatman and her family spend the Labor Day holiday in Florida, but Hurricane Frances is ravaging the state and her family is hitting the local lakes.

"We're just going to stay around here this year," Sweatman of Jonesboro said.

Tyler Sweatman, 8, said he's grabbing his fishing pole and spending his Monday off from Lee Street Elementary School at a Clayton County reservoir.

Stretching his hands out, he showed the size of the "shark" that his little brother reeled in during a fishing expedition.

"Stay home," Sally Leduz of Aloha Travel, a Riverdale travel agency, said laughing.

Thursday morning a Florida cruise line canceled 80 of her reservations setting Leduz whirling in motion to let her customers know.

"It's a monster hurricane," she said. "I wouldn't go anywhere because you don't know where the hurricane is going."

Zakiyya Whittler, a Clayton County teacher, is heading the opposite direction of the hurricane. As she did last Labor Day, she will be in Detroit for the holiday.

"I'm actually going to see a roommate from freshman year in college," Whittler said.

While there, she may see another college friend's wedding.

She'll be one of many passing through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport this holiday weekend.

Holiday travel is projected to be up 13 percent at Hartsfield, airport spokeswoman Lanii Thomas said.

The advice is simple: arrive early, Thomas said. With the additional travelers, airport construction around the north and south terminals, security and Hurricane Frances, travelers should arrive at the airport 90 minutes early.

"The construction projects have run really smoothly," Thomas said.

Hartsfield averages 227,000 travelers a day, and the number was projected to be 258,000 on Thursday and 259,000 on Friday, she said. The total number of travelers from Thursday to Tuesday is expected to top 1.3 million.

To accommodate travelers, the airport has Kiss ?N' Fly, driving lanes that pass through the parking garages so that drivers can bid farewell to passengers.

Thomas said many of the customers flying to Florida and other areas impacted by Hurricane Frances should already have been contacted and be aware of any changes to their schedules. The airlines are also keeping a constant watch on the weather.

For live updates on parking at Hartsfield, Thomas recommended calling (877) ATL-PARK, (877) 285-7275 or visiting www.Atlanta-Airport.com.

The Web site www.Tips4Trips.com offers additional advice for air travelers. The site recommends that preparation can go a long way, particularly planning for delays between flights. It also suggests getting a specific seat in advance to avoid getting bumped from a flight and to be wary of film for cameras that may be damaged when going through security screening.