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Airlines gear up for additional flights

Passengers gather at LaGuardia Airport early Friday. All three New York area airports reopened Friday morning.  

(CNN) -- Airlines expected to gradually add more flights this weekend as they aimed to return to a normal operating schedule.

Most airports were back in business Friday, and Boston's Logan International Airport was cleared to reopen at 5 a.m. EDT Saturday. Washington's Reagan National Airport remained closed indefinitely.

All three New York-area airports, LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark International opened Friday morning. Los Angeles International Airport, while open, had only about 100 arrivals and departures in an 18-hour period.

As airlines operated on sharply reduced flight schedules, several indicated they would gradually add more flights throughout the weekend.

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Passengers can expect tight security, long waits  
Q & A with travel expert Tom Parsons  

In the meantime, hopeful travelers arrived hours early to face uncertainty about the few flights available and impressive displays of security by law enforcement personnel.

Teams of FBI agents were dispatched to major airports across the country to quickly resolve any security questions surrounding people in the airports. He said the aim was to minimize the disruptions to air travel, FBI Director Robert Mueller said.

Tense moments

Heightened security concerns led to tense moments Friday.

-- At Newark International Airport in New Jersey, a Continental flight to Detroit was delayed shortly after 8 p.m. Friday after a passenger was overheard making an apparent joke that some other passengers misinterpreted as a threat, an airport spokesman said.

Officials inspected the plane and the man and his luggage were not allowed on board, the spokesman said, adding he did not know whether the man would be charged.

-- In Chicago, Midway Airport was shut down for a short time Friday after police detained two people for questioning, but it reopened at 5:45 p.m. EST.

-- In California, the FBI took a man into custody after he entered restricted waters around San Francisco International Airport and phoned in a threat to police.

Fewer flights, long waits

Elsewhere, travelers encountered a variety of obstacles.

At Los Angeles International, private vehicles can get no closer than the airport's parking lots, where people could take shuttle buses.

Despite the difficulties, lines at ticket counters reportedly didn't appear any longer than normal. Still, travelers were urged to arrive 2 1/2 hours early for domestic flights, and 3 to 3 1/2 hours early for international flights.

At Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, Delta Airlines was operating at about 13 percent of its normal flight schedule Thursday night and Friday morning. Lines there were unusually long, with some people waiting in line several hours.

Miami International Airport had only 14 departures and three arrivals between 8 and 10 in the morning, said spokeswoman Cynthia Paul. American Airlines, which normally accounts for about half of the airport's flights, ran only a "very small percent" of its scheduled flights. Airport officials there also urged passengers to show up early -- 2 1/2 hours beforehand for domestic flights and up to fours hours beforehand for international flights.

At normally hectic Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, "things are going very slow," said spokeswoman Monique Bond. She said travelers are being advised to "be prepared for long waits."

The Transportation Department had allowed domestic flights to resume for the first time since Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. EDT Thursday. Only those airports that met the FAA's new heightened safety requirements were allowed to reopen.

Those measures include a ban on all knives aboard planes, the elimination of curbside and off-airport check-ins, and the use of federal air marshals.

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