Quinn Franklin, 4, of the Applegate Valley, waits in the check-in line at the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport for a Thanksgiving trip to grandma’s house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with his parents, Tim and Beth Franklin. Airport manager Bern Case said he expects smooth traveling for those going by air this week. - Bob Pennell

Thanksgiving travel

Two construction projects on Interstate 5 might cause some delays for Thanksgiving holiday motorists, but for airline passengers, things were looking good Tuesday.

Tim and Beth Franklin hoped they could get their family halfway across the country with minimal hassle. The Applegate Valley couple were traveling with their children, Hannah, 6, and Quinn, 4, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, by way of Portland and Minneapolis, with a couple of connecting flights. Beth Franklin said she was optimistic about making their connections; her husband's outlook was a bit more guarded.

"We'll keep our fingers crossed," he said.

The Franklins joined other travelers at the Medford airport Tuesday, waiting for the security check line to open, so they could start their Thanksgiving journeys.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year nationwide. During the six days around Thanksgiving, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a ­destination at least 50 miles away) increases by 54 percent, and during the Christmas holiday the number rises by 23 percent, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year.

While airports, bus terminals and train stations are extra crowded the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after, Thanksgiving day is the heaviest long-distance travel day when personal vehicle trips are added in.

This Thanksgiving it's road construction — rather than the weather — that's more likely to cause travel delays.

On Interstate 5, 10 miles north of Redding, Calif., two-hour traffic delays are expected this week in both directions at the Pit River Bridge project due to heavy holiday travel.

On the freeway near Grants Pass, traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction for the Beacon Bridge project at milepost 57, between the two Grants Pass freeway exits. Drivers should expect delays of up to 30 minutes.

Gary Leaming, project information coordinator for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said that the peak holiday travel hours are Wednesday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon and evening. He said ODOT is encouraging people to travel outside those times.

Whether travelers are heading north or south, he said, they'll be crossing over mountain passes and should not only have their cars prepared for a long journey, but should also bring along water and food in case an accident causes further delays. It's also the season to have tire chains in the trunk, although no snow is anticipated during the holiday.

Forecasters were expecting clouds and fog to settle into low-lying areas at night and sunny or partly cloudy days. Nighttime low temperatures were expected to fall to the mid- to upper-20s in the valley.

"It'll actually be warmer up on the ridges," said Jay Stockton, NWS senior forecaster in Medford.

The daytime temperatures will be in the 40s over the next few days and rise into the 50s toward the later part of the week, he said. By the weekend, rain could return to the area.

"Saturday, the first part of Sunday, we might see something start to move," he said, adding that the snow level is predicted to drop to 5,000 feet on Sunday. That would be higher than the Siskiyou Summit (4,310 feet) on Interstate 5.

Stockton said this weather pattern is typical for November, though it may be a little on the dry side.

Medford airport manager Bern Case said passengers should arrive at the airport two hours before their flights during this busy week.

"It's looking really good for the holiday," he said, adding that the airport has 28 flights in and 28 flights out daily. He said most people are pretty savvy about carry-on luggage requirements these days unless they haven't traveled in a long time. Passengers can take their toiletries on board only in containers no larger than 3 ounces, and each carry-on can have one plastic baggie in which the lotions and liquids are placed.

As for ensuring your luggage arrives in the same town you do, there are no guarantees. But Case advised when checking in luggage at the ticket line, be sure to look at the last airport your bag gets tagged with and make sure that's your destination.

"Looking at your bag tag and making sure it's right helps a lot," he said.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

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