Up, Up And Away For This Holiday

When it comes to traveling during the holidays, Ignacio Lopez speaks for just about everybody.

"I try to get home as fast as I can - that's what I'm looking for," he told CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

But that may not be as easy this Thanksgiving. Air travel volumes are expected be up two and a half percent this holiday season, as the industry slowly continues its post-9/11 rebound.

"With the 20 percent reduction we saw right after 9/11, we're maybe half back. It's still not there, but it's growing and we're hoping that sometime next year it'll reach that level again," said Dean Headley, Airline Quality Ratings co-author.

This resurgence is being fueled largely by low fares and a price war initiated by discount carriers. Add an improving economy to the mix and you have the right recipe to convince consumers to climb aboard.

"Consumers were booking for Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday season a good two months ahead," said Bank One Chief Economist Diane Swonk. "This is a sharp reversal of the last two years when we had the sort of cocooning - everything from 9/11 to Iraq-na-phobia."

The surge of holiday travelers is expected to be the biggest test yet of the new federal security system, particularly in light of 5,000 recent Transportation Security Administration layoffs.

Congress argues the TSA was overstaffed and under-managed, neither of which contributes to true security or passenger peace of mind -- and incidents like the loaded gun police say a man tried to take on board a plane at O'Hare Monday don't help.

"I wish I felt more secure, but in all fairness I don't feel more secure," said one traveler.

Most holiday travelers though, like the Blazejewski family headed to New Jersey, prefer to focus on the positive.

"The airfares are terrific. So you couldn't, couldn't pass up the opportunity to fly this year," said Dan Blazejewski.

Which means that for the first time in a long time, things may be looking up in the airline industry.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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