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Holiday Travelers Cram Lindbergh Field

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

It's a busy day at the San Diego International Airport – possibly the busiest of the holiday season. More than 50,000 travelers are expected. Officials say the problems that plague Denver's airport should not cause problems for San Diegans. KPBS Radio's Andrew Phelps checked in at Lindbergh Field.

Carmen Champlan is standing in the middle of the parking lot with too many bags for one person to carry. She has that deer-in-the-headlights look. I'm the first person to walk by, so Champlan asks me to carry a suitcase. It's filled with Christmas toys for her grandchildren.

Carmen Champlan : You know it's kinda difficult you know in this season especially for the seniors, you know. I'm 64, and I'm retired. And it's hard, it's difficult you know – traffic, you have to park far away from the first entrance. You know, thanks to you, you're helping me with my two suitcases!

Inside Terminal One, the lines are daunting. It's hard to tell where one ends and another starts. Officials say now is the busiest time of the Christmas season. Suddenly, Champlan's kindly old-lady persona fades. She sneaks to the front of the check-in line, which looks about 100 people deep. But then she gets caught by Sally Delgado at the Southwest Airlines counter. Delgado's shift started at 4:30 in the morning – and she won't leave till 10:30 p.m. But she is remarkably cheery.

Sally Delgado : We have to, because if we have customers that are excited, we like to have them calm down. It's a busy travel day, and so we just do the best we can to get our line down and be as patient as we can – and process our customers, so they can make it home for the holiday.

The blizzard that closed Denver's Airport and stranded passengers here is over. And despite the noise and the lines, it's hard to find anyone in a bad mood at Lindbergh Field. For KPBS, I'm Andrew Phelps.

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