Yeah, I have to concur. I'm a 20-year user of emacs, and you could remove the alt keys from my keyboard and I'd hardly notice. I normally use the aforementioned ESC prefix instead, but if you don't want to move off the home row you can even get around that by using C-[. I think the last time I touched an actual meta key was on a DECStation keyboard in the early 90s, and it would never occur to me to try to chord those sequences on a modern system.
Also, I do use ctrl-alt-backspace on purpose all the time. At work I manually start the X server and use C-A-BS to quit on a daily basis. At home there is some sort of race such that the X server never sees all of my video cards immediately after a power cycle, until I C-A-BS gdm and let it probe a second time. Then there are crazy X11 bugs requiring a server restart, which I encounter up to several times a day on my home system (a problem that began immediately after I upgraded from Ubuntu 8.04 to 8.10, sigh).