Okay, I'll start. What am I thankful for in the air travel industry this year? Safety.
#1: Plane Safety vs. The Bedroom
Planes are safer than your boudoir? Yes, I'll explain.
First of all, I fly a lot and I'm still here because I always buckle my seatbelt on the drive to the airport -- and, because overall, U.S. airlines have an excellent safety record.
Plus, as the Book of Odds (one of my favorite websites) points out, the chances that "an airplane passenger will be involved in a plane crash in a year" are 1 in 10,790,000 (based on 2008 data). Contrast that with the odds of a licensed driver being involved in a car accident in a single year, which is just a hair over 1 in 19.
Are you still a queasy flier? I just hope you're also staying out of the bedroom. The odds a person will "die from a fall from bed in a year" are 1 in 478,300 (2006 data).
What else am I thankful for? Well, a tip of the hat goes to all the people who keep our aircraft in good shape and on course. I'll include the following:
#2: Non-Rapping Pilots and Cabin Crews
Give me a boring old-school pilot who tells me in his deep drawl when to look at "the magnificent view of the Grand Canyon" but otherwise keeps his mouth shut, or a flight attendant who's more interested in safety than celebrity.
In other words, give me a Capt. Sully over a Snookie or Situation wanna-be any time. Most of the folks flying our planes are consummate professionals, and I applaud the industry for its high standards.
Which reminds me -- did you hear that former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater has a new gig? Yes, since hurling expletives at passengers, grabbing a couple of beers before exiting his aircraft via the emergency slide, he's now shilling for an iPhone app with a rap about a "Mile High Text Club." I think he's found a home.
#3: The Airlines Didn't Lose Your Wedding Gown
Of course, I never had a wedding gown to lose and you probably didn't either, but supermodel and all-around hot-young-celebrity-of-the-moment Miranda Kerr did, and she recently texted that American Airlines lost her bag: "Unfortunately the luggage had my wedding dress in it plus other things that I hold so dear."
Oh, Miranda; never pack valuables in a checked bag. Most airlines say this on their baggage policies and will not take responsibility for such losses (and besides, American has said they have yet to receive a bag claim form from the new Mrs. Orlando Bloom, which they need if they are going to track down her luggage).
Now, the good news: airlines are in fact losing fewer bags. According to the figures for September 2010 (the most recent available), U.S. carriers posted a "mishandled" baggage rate of 2.89 reports per 1,000 passengers, which was better than the rate for lost bags in August (3.50 per 1,000) and a big improvement over the rate for the entire first nine months of the year.
Of course, that could be because more of us aren't checking bags (are you listening, Miranda Kerr?) and as I always say, the airline can't lose a carry-on bag you stow yourself.
#4: Airlines Defy Dinosaur Destiny