Stupid Travelers

Stupid people are everywhere.

Just look around and you will see that oh, about 90 percent of the population is a solid 30 points below you on the Stanford-Binet. And nowhere is that more true than when you travel.

It never ceases to amaze me how clueless people can be. It seems that each day brings another chuckle to our staff with the silly, insulting, inane and plain old stupid questions.

Last week, for example, in response to my column on why the airlines don’t get it, I received the following e-mail.

“Mr. Frenaye, you seem to know a lot about the airlines and you own a travel agency. Do you know the best way to get pot on a plane?”

I have a feeling she wasn’t attending a horticulture convention.

In August of 2004, a friend called me in despair because some of the Midshipmen he sponsored from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis were headed to France to backpack for the rest of the summer. Apparently they were never informed that they needed a passport to get there.

And these guys are getting the keys to a nuclear sub when they graduate?

(By they way, we were able to secure the passports in nine hours for the Midshipmen, so they made the flight.)

Here’s another one: the frantic call from the frequent flier who booked his own flights into and out of Paris.

“Hey, I know I did not book with you but you guys know Charles de Gaulle airport. I am on Air France Flight 643, can you tell me what my departure gate is?”

No, but here’s a clue: You’re at the wrong airport.

Tourists are always good for a laugh or two, usually because they don’t understand time zones.

“You obviously made a mistake, it says the flight is over an hour long, yet I am only arriving five minutes after I leave,” they will sometimes say. After a brief explanation of time zones, we typically tell them that had they booked their trip to Los Angeles, they would have arrived yesterday.

Hawaii is a favorite destination for the feeble-minded. We have all heard about the client wanting to drive to Hawaii, but one of my personal favorites was the woman who insisted that it could not possibly take 8 hours to fly to Hawaii “because it is so close. Just look at my map and you will see that Hawaii is right there. Off the coast of California.”

And exactly what does that little box labeled “inset” mean?

Hurricanes not only suck the trees out of the ground and the life out of hotels and resorts; they must also suck the grey matter from peoples’ heads.

A client of ours was scheduled to visit St. Maarten in October. She was terrified of the hurricanes and decided that since the Caribbean seemed to be so prone to the hurricanes, she wanted to “go where it is safe from the hurricanes. I want to go to the other side of Florida so the hurricanes cannot get there.”

We found a lovely place in Punta Gorda, Fla., for her. Sorry, Charley.

Of course, being a frequent traveler doesn’t always make things better. One Thanksgiving, one of our road warriors decided to take his family to Europe and could not understand why we could not find “one stinking hotel” that would serve him the Thanksgiving dinner he wanted.

He made us try six countries before realizing that Thanksgiving was celebrated for the discovery of America, not England, France, Italy, or Spain. I guess his Independence Day party with the Queen might be a problem.

Spring breakers are good for a laugh, too. With Cancun being a huge hotspot, most of today’s youth (or so it seems) is unaware that Cancun is in a different country. When we discuss birth certificates and passports, they tend to look at us like we are from Mars. “We don’t want to go anywhere foreign; we’re just going to Cancun,” they say.

Are they still accepting applications at the US Naval Academy?

Here’s one that almost knocked me off my chair. After processing courtesy upgrades for a client, I was told, “Please tell your agent to stop getting me upgraded on these flights. I can only see my girlfriend when I travel and her company will not allow her to fly or upgrade. Oh, and if my wife calls…mums the word.”

Uh, whatever.

But my favorite line is, “I saw it on the Internet so it has to be cheaper.”

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