Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Christmas Travel Crunch, Per Se -- But Oops, Here Comes a 'Snow' Crunch

I don't need to inform anyone on the East Coast today that air travel is a mess because of a big storm that's expected to dump a ton of snow on the Northeast. It's only raining in Atlanta, and delays and cancellations are piling up. Orlando also is reporting mounting delays. The big Northeast airports, from Philly through New York and up to Boston, are experiencing mounting weather delays.

Our air-travel system has absolutely no slack in it. That means a plane sidelined by bad weather represents a planeload of passengers who will struggle to find seats on another flight, because all the planes are full and have been for a year -- and because the airlines have slashed capacity.

So a ripple effect occurs, and it will now be felt right into the start of the Christmas travel peak.

So please: Do plan ahead. Make sure that flight is on, and that you still have a seat. Arrive at the airports two hours early. If you have to park a car, check ahead to make sure there's a space.

I spend most of my time these days in southern Arizona, where it's always sunny and where I am learning to forget the misery of a snowstorm.

In the 2007 movie "You Kill Me," the opening scene shows Ben Kingsley as an alcoholic busted-valise of a Buffalo hit-man. Snow-shovel in hand, he stands at his front stoop contemplating the miserable chore of shoveling a path through thigh-high show. He gets a bottle of vodka and tosses it into the snow about five feet ahead, and then gamely shovels to that point, takes a swig, and tosses the bottle another five feet down the path, incentivizing himself, as it were.

Nothing better illustrates my own attitude toward heavy snow.

Safe travels. And hire a kid to shovel that snow.


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