Today, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, is one of the biggest, craziest air travel days of the year — but it’s not the biggest. Most assume it’s the day before Thanksgiving. Or they hazard it’s one of the ones bookending Christmas. So I’ll set the record straight: A half dozen summer Fridays outrank the top holiday fly times. But those sunny days, everyone boarding in flip-flops and t-shirts and Capris, feel less burdened, don’t they? This Thanksgiving, holiday flying was its own hell: oppressive delays for some, wintry mix skies, crowds in stress spirals, the flu-ish air, that colossal collective anticipation of family embrace and dysfunction. It knocked the stuffing out of us.
As many as 2.56 million folks are predicted to be up in the sky sometime today. Year-round in the United States, it’s 2 million a day on average. But there’s really nothing “average” about slicing through the clouds, is there? “More than ever, air travel is a focus of curiosity, intrigue, anxiety, and anger,” writes Patrick Smith. This commercial pilot (and Revere native) is the guy behind the cheeky Salon.com column “Ask the Pilot,” and I all but guarantee he’s better company than your seatmate in 23B.