It wasn't fees plaguing United this year so much as computer glitches; its reservation system merged but failed to mesh with new partner Continental's, resulting in hair-pulling frustration for fliers this spring. United employees weren't exactly thrilled either; for a while there, some even had to resort to Stone-Age tools like pens and paper to cobble together handwritten boarding passes.
Bad as that was, the airlines performed beautifully during the awful double-whammy of Hurricane Sandy and the nor'easter by waiving change fees and getting info to customers fast ahead of time.
We saw airports shine, too. Despite all the dire predictions about travel to the London Olympics, Heathrow did not prove to be a prison for passengers; lines moved relatively briskly and the Games went on without a hitch. Nice of the queen to drop in too, and by skydiving from a private aircraft she cleverly avoided airport security.
There were some grim incidents involving the TSA this year, including thefts of cash and electronics. Newark Liberty International Airport was a particular sore spot; in June, eight screeners were fired for a variety of offenses, including sleeping on the job, and in October the agency announced it was moving to fire another 25 officers (and suspending 19 more). On the plus side, week after week, screeners find and remove umpteen numbers of loaded guns from passenger bags (most common excuse: "I forgot").
Best News of All - Airline Safety
According to a report issued in December by the Geneva-based airline trade group International Air Transport Association, 2012 is on its way to becoming the safest year ever for air travel, worldwide. Nothing I can add to that except, safe travels to all - throughout the new year.
The opinions expressed by Rick Seaney are his alone and not those of ABC News.