First holiday flyers plugged in

The more than 3 million people who are expected to have taken flights for their Thanksgiving trips likely encountered a bevy of usual problems, such as long security and potential flight delays.

The holiday fliers also encountered a new circumstance this Thanksgiving: being able to keep their electronics on while they are flying home for the holidays.

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The Federal Aviation Administration predicted this week that there would be a 15 percent increase in airline traffic over last Thanksgiving. The prediction followed a forecast of 3.14 million passengers by AAA earlier this month.

The jump in traffic comes as airlines have begun rolling out new relaxed rules for gadgets long sought by passengers and electronics-makers.

With Southwest Airlines and its subsidiary AirTran Airways joining the fold last week, the largest U.S. commercial airlines are now allowing passengers to keep their electronics on for the entire length of at least some of their flights.

Delta, United, US Air, American and JetBlue all announced they would let passengers keep their gadgets on earlier this month.

The companies are the five largest in the U.S., by passenger size.

The airlines have said that it would take longer for the relaxed electronic rules to be applied to shorter commuter flights, which could cause some confusion for holiday passengers.

AAA said the average distance that will be traveled for Thanksgiving this year is 588 miles, which is a slight decrease from last year’s 601-mile average.

The distance is short enough to qualify for most airlines' regional services, which are often branded with major airline logos, but operated by much smaller companies.

When the FAA announced the change to its electronics rules last month, it said airlines had to apply for the additional gadget clearance and prove their fleets could be operated safely with electronics on.

The FAA predicted it would take until the end of the year before electronics use was extended on all airlines, meaning Christmas passengers could be even more connected than their Thanksgiving counterparts.