The perks of traveling while Palestinian

As I stood in the line waiting to check in at the Bradley International Airport in the US state of Connecticut, I wondered how overweight my luggage would be.

After I handed my Palestinian passport to the woman sitting behind the desk, she paused for a minute.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Nothing, but this is the first time I’ve held a Palestinian passport, which is kind of exciting for me as pro-Palestinian,” she replied.

After she gave me the boarding pass, she asked me to put my luggage on the scale. I had already paid the fee for having an extra bag. But when my heavy bag was weighed, it turned out to be seven pounds heavier than the allowed weight.

The man printing the label asked the woman who handed me my boarding pass, “What about this heavy one, is he a good man?”

The woman stared at me and asked: “What’s happening on May 15th?”

I never thought she would be asking about the third intifada!

“Nothing,” I said.

“In Palestine,” she added.

“The Palestinian march,” I cautiously said.

“Are you going out or staying at your house?” she asked.

That question hit me hard, as I thought of undercover CIA agents.

I asked her, “What do you want me to do?”


“Of course I will,” I answered.

“Then you don’t have to pay the overweight fees for this other bag,” she said.

After she had checked me in, she got up from her desk and approached me. After we had a short conversation about the Middle East, she pulled out her phone and showed me how her Facebook’s news feed is mostly from pages supporting the revolutions, and the 15 May protests.

After she learned I was from Gaza specifically, she said, “Then maybe you should stay at home, isn’t it too dangerous to go out?”

I didn’t have a direct answer for that, but after we talked more about Palestine, she asked if she could add me on Facebook.

Wishing all Americans were like her, my answer was yes.

Mohammed-Naji AlKhodari is Palestinian from Gaza pursuing a degree in civil engineering.