CHICAGO (CBS) — Wednesday is expected to be one of the busiest travel days of the season, and a big winter storm out east was expected to make getting out of town difficult for many holiday revelers.

CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports the day before Thanksgiving usually is one of the three busiest travel days of the year, and crowds at O’Hare International Airport were growing exponentially even as early as 5 a.m. , prompting officials to open an extra security checkpoint.

Approximately 200,000 people were expected to fly through O’Hare or Midway International Airport on Wednesday.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakely reports holiday passengers expecting turkey day travel troubles received a pleasant surprise as few O’Hare flights delayed or cancelled due to the northeast storm.

Tome Van Cleave was heading to New York for the Macy’s Parade.

“We were ready to travel last night but I just thought well, that’s see what happens and we’re going to take our same flight this morning that we were going to take all the time and I just talked to my daughter and she says it is clear in New York City. She is at times square right now and the weather is great,” said Van Cleave.

As for the crowds, what crowds? O’Hare was almost heavenly for a change on the eve of a big holiday.

Carly Katz, her husband Joe and baby Audry were all heading for Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“I am so shocked that it is not more busy. We thought there’d be lines, we thought we would be in security forever and it hasn’t been like that at all so far,” said Carly Katz.

A storm system was expected for the East Coast bringing heavy rain, thunderstorms, and heavy snow to that region.

Chicago’s aviation department tells CBS 2 some airlines are beginning to experience a few longer delays to the east coast, up to 40 minutes.
And at Midway, two dozen flights have been delays by up to 40 minutes.

Still, overall, a lot better than many anticipated.

Beth Mosher, spokeswoman for AAA Chicago, said travelers should watch the weather both their destination, and where they are before they leave for the holiday weekend, and plan accordingly.

“Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. If you’re traveling East, make sure that you carry on anything that’s very important – like prescriptions, extra pack of clothes, that type of thing – so that if you are separated from your suitcase, you’ll have the important things with you,” she said.

Although plenty of Americans will be traveling this Thanksgiving, it’s a slight decrease from last year, continuing a recent downward trend in holiday travel due to the economy. This year’s predicted total of 43.4 million travelers would be a 1.5 percent drop from last year.