By Serene Branson

LOS ANGELES ( — Millions of people were trying to get into or out of Southern California on Wednesday.

Some 3.5 million Southern Californians were expected to get out of town, up nearly 4 percent from last year. On getaway day, you’d expect “holiday heavy,” and it was, but not as bad as many expected.

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KCAL9’s Serene Branson left Studio City at 4:50 p.m., braving the freeways to check out the drive to Los Angeles International Airport, and inching along most of the way.

“It’s pretty much been a sea of red taillights here on the 405 Freeway,” Branson said upon reaching the 10 Freeway. “We’ve been sitting here for about 55 minutes to go 12 miles.”

A multi-vehicle crash snarled things further, but eventually Branson made it to LAX.

“The time now is 6:15, we are just pulling up to LAX,” Branson said. “It took us an hour and 25 minutes to go the 22 miles.”

Many travelers said conditions once they reached LAX were a pleasant surprise.

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“Not that bad, just bad traffic on the way,” said traveler Crystal Bustos.

Many passengers said they were concerned after hearing hundreds of flights were canceled nationwide Wednesday due to the storm in the Northeast. A few flights coming in from the East Coast were canceled, but most outbound flights were on time or only slightly delayed. Travelers said it felt as if many got out Tuesday night, ahead of the forecast rain and snow.

Traveler Dick Cassidy said travel conditions were better than he thought they would be.

“Much better,” he said. “Things are actually moving along well.”

According to travel website, LAX isn’t always the busiest airport in the nation, but it is this holiday stretch for the second year in a row. Airport officials say 4.8 percent more travelers are expected to pass through this Thanksgiving weekend compared to last year.

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Officials at LAX said the peak travel is expected on Sunday and Monday, when 207,000 people are expected to be arrive or depart.

Serene Branson