Question: Is there any reason to carry my passport when I'm a U.S. citizen traveling within the U.S.?
Answer: If you're going anywhere near a border and think there's even the slightest chance you want to cross it, I'd take it. I'd also carry it if you do not have a driver's license or an official state ID card. If you're worried, take it. It can't hurt.
Question: My husband and I are going to New York City and want to see a couple of Broadway shows. In one of them, the actors interact quite a bit with the audience. The only seats available are in the second row, on the aisle or way in the back. My husband wants to get the second-row seats, but I'm terrified we'll get pulled up onstage. Is this really something to worry about?
Answer: It's hard to say without knowing what show you're talking about. Sometimes, however, the "audience members" who get pulled onstage are actually cast members who are planted there.
A few weeks ago, I saw a Broadway play (which I won't name -- spoilers are no fun) with one very obvious plant -- she even took a bow with the cast at the end. But then there were a few people brought up who didn't seem like plants at all, and they did come from the front couple of rows.
Another time, my husband and I were at a smaller show (which shall also remain nameless), sitting up front, and someone asked him before the show started if he'd "help out." He probably could have said no, and we were both nervous about what exactly they would do, but it was totally fine. We knew this was a possibility before we booked the seats, though.
I'd encourage you to get the second-row seats and see what happens. After all, how often do you go to a Broadway show -- let alone sit in the second row -- let alone go up onstage? But if you absolutely want no part of interacting with the cast, then I'd take the seats in the back and leave the second-row seats for people who might relish the opportunity.
Question: Recently, a flight attendant told me to take my laptop out of the seatback pocket. I've never heard of this before, and I said as much. She then snapped at me. What do you think of this?
Answer: "I said as much" is a bit vague. If you yelled, "What the &? I've never heard of this!," then I understand why she snapped at you. If you simply said, "No problem, but I usually put it there when I fly. Is this a new rule?" then she should have answered you politely. It's usually fine to ask questions as long as you comply with what the flight attendant is telling you to do and don't give him or her attitude about it.
Question: How can you tell when a restaurant will give you unlimited free refills of soda -- or not? I don't mind paying $3 if I can get several refills of Diet Coke, but I hate it when the waiter comes out with a can. I don't know; maybe I just drink more with meals than others, or maybe I'm cheap, but if they're going to give me a single can for that price, I'd rather drink tap water.
Answer: It would be nice if restaurants just wrote "free refills" or "cans" on their menus, wouldn't it? But there are a few surreptitious ways you can try to figure it out. First, if you're outside the U.S., assume you will not get free refills. In the U.S., it sometimes seems tied to the swankiness level of the restaurant. If it's in the middle -- like a national family-friendly chain -- you'll usually get refills. If, however, you're somewhere super-fancy in New York, you might get your Diet Coke in a tiny glass bottle. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you're in a hole-in-the-wall pizza place with one booth, you shouldn't expect them to have a soda fountain -- you'll probably get a can. Of course, the foolproof way to tell is simple: Ask your server.
Question: My friend did a scary bungee-jump-type ride at an amusement park, and he asked me to take a video. I did, but some people nearby were surprised when my friend swung by overhead on the bungee cord -- and let out a few expletives. Now my friend can't share the video with his kids. Can you ask people to watch their language when someone is shooting video?
Answer: Sure. But if your friend wants to show the video to his kids, couldn't he do it with the sound off?travel
Email travel-etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.