Email contributed by "Ms. Riley," Feb. 3, 2003:
These are from a Washington, D.C.Travel Agent with 30 years experience...
CLUELESS IN D.C..........
I had a New Hampshire Congresswoman ask for an aisle seat so that her hair wouldn't get messed up by being near the window.
I got a call from a Candidate's Staffer, who wanted to go to Capetown. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information then she interrupted me with, "I'm not trying to make you look stupid, but Capetown is in Massachusetts." Without trying to make her look like the stupid one, I calmly explained, "Cape Cod is in Massachusetts, Capetown is in Africa." Her response ... (click).
A Senior Vermont Congressman called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that is not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, "Don't lie to me. I looked on the map, and Florida is a very thin state!!!"
I got a call from a Lawmakers Wife who asked, "Is it possible to see England from Canada?" I said, "No." She said, "But they look so close on the map."
An aide for a Bush cabinet member once called and asked if they could rent a car in Dallas. When I pulled up the reservation, I noticed they had only a 1-hour lay-over in Dallas. When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car, he said, "I heard Dallas was a big airport, and we will need a car to drive between the gates to save time."
An Illinois Congresswoman called last week. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:20am and got into Chicago at 8:33am. I tried to explain that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois, but she could not understand the concept of time zones. Finally, I told her the plane went very fast, and she bought that!
A New York lawmaker called and asked, "Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know who's luggage belongs to who?" I said, "No, why do you ask?" She replied, "Well, when I checked in with the they put a tag on my luggage that said (FAT), and I'm overweight, I think that is very rude?" After putting her on hold for a minute while I "looked into it" (I was actually laughing) I came back and explained the city code for Fresno, CA is (FAT), and that the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.
A Senator's Aide called in inquiring about a trip package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, she asked, "Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?"
I just got off the phone with a freshman Congressman who asked, "How do I know which plane to get on?" I asked him what exactly he meant, to which he replied, "I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these darn planes have numbers on them."
A Lady Senator called and said, "I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola, FL. Do I have to get on one of those little computer planes?" I asked if she meant fly to Pensacola, FL on a commuter plane. She said, "Yeah, whatever!!"
A Senior Senator called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him he needed a visa. "Oh no I don't, I've been to China many times and never had to have one of those." I double checked and sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this he said, "Look, I've been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express!"
A New Mexico Congresswoman called to make reservations, "I want to go from Chicago to Rhino, New York" The agent was at a loss for words. Finally, the agent: "Are you sure that's the name of the town?" "Yes, what flights do you have?" replied the lady. After some searching, the agent came back with, "I'm sorry, ma'am, I've looked up every airport code in the country and can't find a Rhino anywhere." The lady retorted, "Oh don't be silly! Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!" The agent scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, "You don't mean Buffalo, do you?" "That's it! I knew it was a big animal," she admitted!!!
Should we be worried about the state of the union?
Analysis: As you can see by comparing the two different examples posted above, these purported quotes have been around the block a few times and the attributions cannot be trusted. The most recent variant, dating from 2009, attributes all the remarks to particular Democrats; previous versions included Republicans and in most cases didn't name names. The oldest version, dating from the 1990s, attributes the dumb statements to ordinary Americans (typical title: "Why Americans Should Never Be Allowed to Travel").
In short, it's a compilation of "dumb traveler" jokes, a few of which could have been based on things people actually said (we have no way of knowing), but none of which are properly attributed to the politicians named above.
Sources and further reading:
Boston Globe, 30 August 1998
Boston Globe, 8 November 1998
Last updated 05/23/12