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A Big Day Ahead

Editor’s Note: Travelocity’s Thanksgiving Task Force is monitoring crowd conditions ahead of the holiday at 10 of the busiest airports in the country: Atlanta-Hartsfield; Chicago O’Hare; Dallas-Fort Worth International; Denver International; Phoenix International; Las Vegas McCarran; Los Angeles International; New York La Guardia; Orlando International; Reagan National. Check back here through Nov. 22 for airport updates from our editors.

It’s a little after 5 a.m. in Texas, and as I prepare for the hectic travel day ahead, I can’t help but think about the sleep I lost last night and the turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes that I’ll stuff myself with tomorrow! But until then, I’ll be fielding calls from our on-site reporters at the nation’s top airports to learn about crowd conditions throughout what is traditionally known as the busiest travel day of the year.

Travelocity’s on-site reporters have already been at the airports for two days, monitoring wait times and surveying travelers about their experiences at the airports. The overall traveler sentiment? So far, so good. Seventy-two percent of travelers are satisfied with their experience getting through security with only 10 percent of travelers reporting that they’re unsatisfied, an indication that the TSA is well staffed and prepared for the busy day ahead.

We expect Thanksgiving crowds to peak today, so travelers should be prepared to wait in longer lines at both security and check-in points. AAA predicts 4.8 million air travelers to take to the skies this holiday season, a 3 percent increase over last year. Check back here throughout the day for updates on crowd conditions.

On a lighter note, our on-site reporters also asked travelers what celebrity couple they would invite over for Thanksgiving dinner. Despite their weekend wedding in Italy, TomKat (not surprisingly) is the most unpopular couple with 10 percent of the vote, while 28 percent of travelers would welcome Jennifer and Vince to their turkey day feast. Other contenders: The Clintons (24 percent); The Bushes (20 percent); and Brangelina (18 percent).

Stuck at the Airport? Pass the Time with These Airport Finds

Waiting in line and killing time at the airport tops the list of common complaints for any frequent flyer, but be bored at the airport no more! From spas to local eats, many of the nation’s top airports may actually give you reason to get to your gate extra early. Check out these airport finds:

Austin-Bergstrom International
When you go to a place known for its “family-style” servings, you know it has to be good. A requisite stand-by for barbeque-lovin’ Austin residents, Salt Lick BBQ made its way to the West Terminal of Austin-Bergstrom, giving visitors of the Texas capital a tender taste of Texana as soon as they step off the plane.

Boston’s Logan International
If you’re leaving the east coast, but don’t want to leave all that fresh seafood behind, stop by Anthony’s Pier 4 Lobsters in Terminal B – where the term “carry out” takes on a whole new meaning. Lobsters can be packed live for 48 hour take out. But, just so you know, bib and melted butter not included.

Chicago’s Midway International
Change up what you’re listening to or consider bringing a musical gift. Revered as “the top independent music retailer in the country,” George’s Music Room found its second home just beyond Chicago Midway’s security checkpoint. The original store opened in 1968 in Chicago’s fabled west side and has since been known to stock local and hard-to-find Blues records, as well as the latest hits.

Travel-Worthy Fourth of July Celebrations

As American traditions go, this one might just be even more American than Apple Pie. The custom dates back to 1778 when the Continental Congress decided to honor the nation’s third birthday – and to do so boldly with a grand display of fireworks. More than two centuries later, the tradition continues with communities around the country celebrating America’s independence with a bang, and maybe a bite or two of Apple Pie.

When the rockets red glare this July 4, where will you be celebrating? Travelocity editors compiled this list of fireworks spectaculars, revealing some of the country’s best displays for 2006.

The Thrill of the Ride

Today’s theme park goers have more than 600 amusement parks and traditional attractions to choose from in the U.S. alone, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, leaving adrenaline-seekers a myriad of options for their next vacation. With spring break approaching and vacationers making their getaway plans, Travelocity editors dug deep to compile coasters, thrillers and soakers from across the country that top the list of amusement park favorites.