Christmas travels — wheels vs. wings

Published 7:45 pm Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fortunately, I was able to drive everywhere I went last week for Christmas get-togethers. It added up to around 17 hours as I went across Virginia to Abingdon on Christmas Eve, then made my way back to Suffolk by way of Roanoke and Fredericksburg.

They were long, but pleasant, drives. I guess there’s no need to worry about the traffic in Surry on Christmas Eve or in Louisa County on a Sunday morning.

From what I heard on the radio for part of those 17 hours, driving during the Christmas holiday was a much better plan than flying.

It used to be, at least most of the time, that the price of flying was the main thing that made driving seem like a better idea. Now, the prevalence of anti-terrorist legislation over plain common sense is the major headache with flying the friendly skies.

On Flight 94, the flight that crashed in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001, the terrorists on board were stopped from doing further destruction that morning by the plain old passengers on the plane. The government had nothing to do with it.

Similarly, more than eight years later, despite the “work” of both Republican and Democratic legislatures, the flight that landed safely in Detroit on Christmas Eve was saved by the simple sheep, I mean, passengers.

Watch lists, the TSA, Congressional legislation, the Department of Homeland Security, all had no impact. Even if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was on a Homeland Security list somewhere, it didn’t do any good in Amsterdam’s airport and, if recent history is an example, it might or might not have done much good in an American airport.

Of course, it’s true that we don’t necessarily hear about the quiet successes our government or security personnel have.

It’s also true that — while common sense might often trump all the laws or confiscated, overlarge bottles of shampoo in the world — anarchy would be even worse than having to put away laptops and make every airplane passenger sit with dunce caps on their heads for the last hour of every flight.

Whenever possible, though, I’ll be content to choose driving through spots like Smithfield, Surry, Bedford and Abingdon on Christmas Eve.