Want to hear the latest stupid-passenger joke? Just hang out near the galley on your next flight, and you might catch the attendants poking fun of our gullibility — and geographic illiteracy.

I overheard two crewmembers on a recent flight from Orlando to Seattle mocking customers who believed the Earth’s rotation could slow the speed of an aircraft.

“And that’s why the westbound flights are slower than the eastbound flights,” one of them giggled.

Actually, a strong tailwind might account for the difference in speed.

The travel industry employees shouldn’t be so smug. After all, their geographic illiteracy — if not their gullibility — has cost us in the past.


Costa Rica or Puerto Rico? Samantha Lazzaris asked her travel agent to book a vacation in San Jose, Costa Rica. She didn’t notice a problem until she landed. “I asked the taxi driver to take me to this hotel I’d pre-booked, he looked in amazement, speechless, then laughed and said, ‘This is not Costa Rica. It’s Puerto Rico,” she told a British newspaper. “I didn’t believe him. I was in shock. I looked around the airport, saw posters of Puerto Rico everywhere, and thought: What am I going to do? Where is Puerto Rico? Where am I?” Turns out her agent had typed in the wrong airport codes when she booked the flight.

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  • Elliott

    Christopher Elliott has been called one of the world’s leading travel experts. But his focus isn’t on the destination, or ev…

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