Travel tip

When the desk agent at the airport prefaces anything with “The computer says …” you can pretty much bet that your travel plans are hosed.

An example from La Guardia:

Agent: “Your flight is delayed 20 minutes.”
Me: “No problem, flight late?”
Agent: “Yeah, the inbound flight just pulled back from the gate in Chicago.”
Me: “Just left? Unless it’s a Concorde that’s a two-hour flight.”
Agent: “Well, the computer says it will be here in 20 minutes.”

At this point you can:

(1) Express overt indignation attempting to rally those around you into some kind of mini-revolt by the sheer power of your expression of can-you-believe-thisedness.

(2) Pull out your calculator and present the agent with the purported actual speed of the incoming plane and expound on the physics behind the inevitable disintegration of its airframe if it continues at Mach 9.

(3) Blame the computer and ask the agent out for a drink.

(4) Sit in the gate area and quietly fume.