TODAY   |  December 21, 2012

93 million to travel for holidays as storm looms

AAA predicts 93 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more this holiday weekend, and as a massive winter storm rolls across the mid-section of the country, travelers are concerned about delays that may affect the weekend. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> millions of people will be traveling the next few days for the holiday. that huge winter storm is change changing a lot of travel plans. tom costello is at reagan national airport this morning. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning. long list of flights canceled and delays. let's get right to a board that will show you what's happening in the midwest and airports seeing affected delays today. chicago, a lot of delays there. m midwest , because of that storm. also in the northeast because we've got low ceilings and high winds . new york area, philadelphia as well getting hit hard. who are the affected airlines? those airlines that have a big presence in the midwest and also the northeast. you can bank on american having delays today, united, skywest as well -- and southwest. it will be a busy day for those airlines. with 93 million people traveling over the course of this holiday period, most of them, by the way, going by car not in the airports, the airports nonetheless are very busy this time of year. tis the season to be jolly

>> reporter: four days before christmas and at atlanta hartsfield airport.

>> good morning.

>> reporter: it's all hands on deck.

>> thank you for your loyalty.

>> you should have zone one.

>> reporter: supervisor darren horn wears a delta red coat . his job, solve problems.

>> we'll get you taken care of. you have a ticketing problem you have?

>> reporter: the most common issue for passengers, arriving too late.

>> we have a lot of passengers, obviously, that miss their flights. we try to do everything we can to get them on the next available flight, wherever they're going.

>> reporter: hartsfield has 2,700 takeoffs and landing every day. critical role this season as 5.5 million americans travel by air nationwide. it's not for everybody.

>> long lines at the airport. and grumpy people this morning. not too many people are in good moods.

>> 12:00 is going out on the north end .

>> reporter: if there's a wizard of oz running operations here, she's in the delta ramp tower.

>> latest delays.

>> reporter: gate assignments and catering, josephine donnelly is in the thick of it.

>> it really focuses on making sure everything departs on time and arrives on time.

>> reporter: this morning, weather is the big complication as that massive storm rolls across the country's midsection. delays likely to ripple into the weekend. but there is good news if you're among 84 million americans who are driving over the holidays. the price at the pump has dropped to $3.22 on average, down 20 cents in a month, down 70 cents since april. back at the airport, decking the halls and dodging the golf carts. kind of ruins the whole feel of things, doesn't it, the ambiance. what's interesting about this year, christmas and new year's both on a tuesday. a lot of people are making this a very long vacation, 10 to 14-day stretch here because they're spreading out the travel the hope is that that will help alleviate the crowds in the nation's airports and on the roads. of course we've still got the weather variable today.

>> tom costello, thank you very