Dear traveler,

It is time to put aside our worldly trappings of modern air travel--the gold cards, embossed luggage tags, noise reducing headsets, and tiny bottles of hotel shampoo and conditioner--to pay homage to the True Meaning of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is not a time to give thanks.

Thanksgiving is a time to get bumped.

The holidays are always a challenging time for those who want to be on their way. And in olden days, these times were indeed challenging, but they were short. The Wednesday before, the Sunday after; other days would be easy and mellow. But now, the travel challenge of the holidays persists throughout the year. Blizzards on New Years Day. Ice storms on Valentine's Day. Nor'easters on President's Day. Thunderstorms on Memorial Day, Labor Day, and every Day in between.

The best laid plans cloud the future for the bumpee. Some have threatened to overbook less so that stranded people may be on their way within hours instead of days. Some still cling to the quaint idea that there shall be no overbooking; for these errant ways, punishment has been handed down from the skies on Valentine's Day. The ever meddling government wants to ratchet up the bonus for the unknowingly lucky, the forced bumpee. While this would ease the pain for these cranky people, it can only be bad for the devotee. For while more money always sounds nice, the airlines, smart critters that they are, will learn to overbook less. And less overbooking always means less fun.

But do not lose heart. All misguided plans go awry sometime, and with any luck, sometime may smile upon you. The skies may clear, the planes may zip in and out, and then the smoothness of it all will lure people back to the airports, to squeeze all at once onto too few seats for too many people. As for me, I am ever less worthy to hold the mantle of a Grand Bumpee. This year I sank to a new low: I passed on a Bump. Never mind that I was already forty hours late after three more bumps; never mind that I slept only a tiny fraction of these forty hours. What counts is that I passed, which means that I failed. And that is a source of shame, for which I must be punished. And my punishment has yet to be revealed, but I fear it may involve a connection in New York.

With endless airport wait wishes,

..robert