Stepping Aboard

ome of you who have read my earlier columns might recall that I am something of a nervous flyer. I can tell you that Sept. 11 has added mightily to my jittery nature while aloft.

My mother, however, is a different story.

Long before Sept. 11, she booked an early October flight to Indianapolis, where a sister of mine lives.

Despite all the security concerns, the long lines, the potential for more crisis situations and her own somewhat frail condition, she would not entertain the idea of canceling or postponing the trip.

So off she went, in the company of another family member.

She said later that they were impressed by the security at both the Newark and Indianapolis airports.

They were repeatedly asked for identification -- at the check-in desk, at the security checkpoint and again at the departure gate.

Everyone's carry-on bags, she said, were twice put through the x-ray machine, and security workers stopped the machine to look closely at each and every bag.

She liked seeing a uniformed presence at the airports, saying she found it very comforting and reassuring.

The flight back to Newark was entirely pleasant, she said, and the plane landed 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

My mother is one of many thousands who have had agreeable experiences with airlines and aircraft since Sept. 11.

We mostly hear the bad news stories, such as the one about an unstable passenger who tried to push his way into the cockpit of an American Airlines plane and was tackled by other passengers, and about the unfortunate situations that have erupted when people refuse to allow passengers who appear to be of Arab descent to remain on their aircraft.

We need to start hearing about some good, uneventful flights, like my Mom's.

I told her I thought she was brave to go forward with her trip, and that I was summoning up the courage to fly in the not-too-distant future.

I'm looking forward to visiting Europe again, but I haven't set the date -- yet.

Donna Tunney is executive editor of Travel Weekly, Travel Weekly Crossroads and Travel Management Daily.

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