Minor Misadventures in Travel

washington capitol american flags We’re back in New York after a three-day visit to Washington, D.C. Compared to our trip two years ago, the trip was painless. The plane to DC waited on the ground for 90 minutes because of bad weather along the way, but the stewardess kept her sense of humor: “If you have a question, I’ll be happy to answer. If you are going to complain, I’m going to move on down the aisle.”

My foot is all better, thank God, and I was able to walk around without a problem. We spent a whole day at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. An exhibit on Jewish immigration included a painting of a breastfeeding mom—more on that another time. And my son complained that the museum’s descriptions were only in English.

On our return, a two-hour power outage at Reagan National Airport meant long lines. My brother who had accompanied us tried to find out what we could do. (Answer: not much, and next time I’ll remember to print out boarding passes in advance.) We finally got to the front of the line and a harried yet friendly agent.

Agent: How many are in your party?
Me: Four.
Agent: Do you all have the same last name?
Me: Yes.
Agent: You made my day. [Into the phone:] Here are four passengers with the same last name. [She reads the names, writes out the boarding passes and turns back to me:] Do you have any bags?
Me: No.
Agent: Same last name and no bags. I’m loving the Katsman family. I could give you a hug. Here are your boarding passes. The 3:00 flight is canceled and I have you on the  4:00. Go to gate 41 and talk to the agent to get printed passes.

The agent at the gate said I had not paid for the tickets, and couldn’t get us on a flight until 8:00. Fortunately another agent managed to manipulate the computer, locate the correct reservations, and print out passes for the 4:00.

At least we avoided special security this time, and they no longer warn you not to go to the bathroom within 30 minutes of DC. But I did have to give up my sunscreen, rather than pay $18 to check a bag.

You may also enjoy:

(Mis)Adventures in International Travel, Part I: An Unexpected Stop

(Mis)Adventures in International Travel: A Long Life


  1. And my son complained that the museum’s descriptions were only in English.
    LOL! 🙂

    Shavua tov and enjoy the rest of your trip.

  2. I am glad you only had light misfortunes this time.
    I am not sure I understand why you had to give up your sunscreen.

  3. Ilana – I am not sure I understand why you had to give up your sunscreen.

    Because American airport security is more afraid of sunscreen (and water, toothpaste, etc) than of terrorists.

  4. After facing liquids restrictions (no containers larger than 100 mL, and no more containers than what can fit into a 1 L ziplock bag) on a flight from Cambodia to Laos on Lao Airways last month, I think we can officially say that the stupidity has officially spread well beyond American airport security. All of this dates to a plot 3-4 years ago to blow up a UK -> US flight using liquid explosive smuggled in sports drink containers, although said plot was in its infancy when stopped, and it’s not clear that it was at all practical.

  5. “And my son complained that the museum’s descriptions were only in English” – tee hee. My kids complained when the menus were only in Hebrew in Kiryat Shmona, but hey, that was Kiryat Shmona.

    A relative once complained about how he had to forgo his favorite nail clippers, all in the name of security. Don’t you feel safer now?

  6. I had to choose between hand cream or deoderant, since I was over the limit on liquids. But my super-sharp wooden knitting needles went through with no problem.

  7. Ms. Krieger says

    Indeed, the liquids ban is bizarre. And, like Miriyummy, I have brought ridiculously dangerous objects onto planes while being forced to dispense with my bottled water.

    Something worth keeping in mind: in the US, at least the liquids ban is primarily enforced in uptight places like Washington, DC and NYC. The kind security agents in Denver, Colorado thought it was absurd when I offered to dispose of my half-drunk coffee. They waved it right through…

  8. @ Ms. Krieger, it may vary between airports, but at the sleepy (though international), 14-gate Albuquerque airport I was forced to hand over a closed YoBaby yogurt for my toddler. Security was stricter there than in Newark, at the time.