- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

Few Washington-area residents plan to change their travel plans for the Fourth of July, despite FBI warnings that the holiday could be targeted for a terrorist attack.
The AAA predicts an increase in the number of travelers compared with last year, most of them by automobile.
Airlines bookings also are strong for the holiday.
"Last-minute specials that came out last week were grabbed up right away," said Jim Pazienza, owner of the Uniglobe Travel office at 4530 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
At the same time, the nation's three largest airlines raised the price of certain round-trip fares by $20 for leisure travelers ahead of July Fourth. The ticket price increases introduced by American and matched by United and Delta apply to 14-day advance-purchase companion fares that require a Saturday night stay.
Many of the travelers are "taking long weekends" that run from the Fourth of July through Sunday, he said. Favorite destinations are Jamaica and Cancun, Mexico.
Airlines say concerns about terrorism have made no noticeable dent in the number of their customers.
"The biggest days are Wednesday and Sunday," said Chris Brathwaite, United Airlines spokesman.
One of the travelers yesterday was Sofia Pilato, a Miami resident who arrived at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with her 2-year-old daughter to visit family members in Washington.
The trip was her first since September 11. Although terrorism crossed her mind, it did not prevent her from traveling.
"Life has to go on," Mrs. Pilato said. "Americans will prevail, so we will not stop."
Similar thoughts occurred to Tim Gibb, a Richmond resident traveling to Ireland for a 10-day hiking and sightseeing trip with his family.
"I try to keep it off my mind," Mr. Gibb said. "You still got to travel. You still got to see things."
For at least one traveler, the nation's capital was exactly the place he did not want to be on the Fourth of July.
John Homer, a computer programmer from Houston, stayed in Washington long enough to transfer from his flight to an Amtrak train that he is taking to Wilmington, Del., to be in an old college roommate's wedding.
"I think the Fourth is the dangerous day here and that's why I don't want to be here," Mr. Homer said. "I'm glad Amtrak didn't shut down this week," he said, referring to the financial crisis that rail officials said would have forced them to announce a shutdown this week if the federal government hadn't provided a $200 million bailout.
Instead, Amtrak will be carrying some of the half-million people expected to attend Washington's fireworks display on the Mall and other holiday celebrations.
Mr. Homer said he would have stayed over in Washington to watch the fireworks if not for the terrorist threat.
"If terrorists are looking for something symbolic, then the capital with a half-million people is very symbolic," he said.
Amtrak officials said they carried 380,000 passengers by rail last year nationwide and expect to carry about the same number during this Fourth of July holiday.
However, most travelers will choose automobiles.
Nationally, AAA expects 36.7 million travelers during the four-day holiday weekend, which is an increase over the 36.4 million last year.

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