With regard to Friday’s column, Richard McIntyre (promising never to return to this page again) writes: ‘It is a grand time to terminate your tiresome tirades.’ But Roger Anderson takes a different tack. ‘I don’t often share your political views,’ he writes, ‘but believe that if we are to remain a vigorous democracy we need to constantly question the underlying assumptions upon which we base out present policies.’ And Craig, wondering about the identity of the mysterious ‘George B’ – who set off my tirade in the first place – asks: ”George B.’ wasn’t George W., was it?’ (Mmmm . . . no.)

I will have another tirade tomorrow – fair warning – but for now let me issue a travel advisory. And it is this: TRAVEL!

I can’t believe how many people are still nervous about flying. Since September 11, I’ve flown in and out of Washington’s National Airport twice, to Detroit, to San Antonio, to New York, to Miami, to Dallas, to LA and to Jacksonville. In that time, sadly, literally thousands of Americans have died on the nation’s highways, with thousands more gruesomely injured. Yet people continue to drive without giving it much of a second thought.

Yes, there is always the chance a plane will crash, just as there always was. But air travel remains safer than just about anything else you can do.

Air fares are incredibly low. And my most recent trip cost me just 15,000 frequent-flier miles instead of the normal 25,000. What’s more, I was willing to settle for a three-star hotel (because where I was going I doubt there is a four-star hotel anyway), so I decided to offer $49 for the room via Priceline instead of my usual $79 – and, sure enough, ten minutes later I had my $180 room for $49.

As to delays, I have seen some horrendous lines to check baggage, so I carry mine on. And I do get to the airport even earlier than I used to. But I bring a lot to read, because I am inevitably through security with an hour to spare.

Just bring a printout of your e-ticket to show at security along with your ID, empty all your pockets before going through that thing you go through, and be prepared to be frisked. It all takes a little longer than usual, and you may have to take off your belt and your boots. Perhaps even leave your nail clippers behind. But it’s basically no big deal.

Is there a chance that the day you fly some scare or snafu will cause massive delays? Sure. But it’s not much different from the chance that fog will cause massive delays. On rare occasion, these things happen. Life goes on.

In short: this is a great time to travel. And I’m not being patriotic, I’m being my normal scheming, selfish self.

What’s that? You’ve never been to Hawaii? It’s so beautiful!


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