Sure, travelers experienced plenty they'd rather put on the "thankfully forgotten" list in 2011. Nevertheless, I'd like to offer up a few thoughts in the spirit of Thanksgiving for travelers this year.
Let's start with something everyone can agree is a good thing: Safety. Just as there were no fatal accidents on domestic, commercial flights in 2010, the same is holding true for 2011. Yes, I'm glad I wasn't on that Southwest 737 that made an emergency landing with a hole in its fuselage back in April. But had I been aboard, I know I'd give thanks for the skill and professionalism of that flight crew.
Tarmac Delay Rules
While some folks get all twitchy about perceived government intrusiveness in their lives, I'm grateful for the continued application and enforcement of the rules intended to limit tarmac delays. Seeing the occasional fine assessed for violations is just the gravy on the mashed potatoes. (Of course, not everyone agrees on this one.)
Weather Reports on the Fly
Given the weather reports, those tarmac delay rules may get a workout this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Consequently, I give thanks for websites like The Weather Channel for making it easy to see how bad it could get and maybe use as a warning to make alternative plans.
Change Fees Waivers
Should the weather force travelers to make new reservations, we can all be grateful for the airlines' ongoing willingness to waive the change fees, as they did during many storms this year. Yes, the change fee itself is onerous and feels like just another way to restrict traveler choice and punish people for, well, being humans with free will. I suppose we can marvel at how the world has gotten to a place where not having to pay for something you shouldn't have had to pay in the first place seems like a blessing.
Let's say you do get to the airport and your flight is more or less on time. There's just that security check looming before you. I know the TSA is a regular punching bag, but I give thanks for the work the folks there do. Don't get me wrong. I have no time for the few who might be bullies or for those on a power trip. All things considered, though, I'd rather feel safer about flying and put up with a line and a search. Plus, knowing I'm going to have to take off my shoes is probably the only thing that will get me to buy new socks.
Once you do get in the air, there's the question of comfort. I'm thankful some airlines are easing the squeeze—after years of wedging more seats onto planes—with improvements in personal space for at least some coach passengers. Delta and Continental, for example, are the latest to tinker with the seating.
Pay Toilets on Planes Not a Reality (for Now)
Finally, I give thanks that the idea to pay to use the bathroom on a plane was just another Ryanair publicity stunt (so far). On the other hand, I can tell you Ryanair's latest plane potty plan to reduce the number of bathrooms won't be making my grateful list next year.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Editorial team at SmarterTravel!