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Like many an early morning traveler, Seth Bohart was a little bleary-eyed behind his sunglasses as he prepared to enter the sullen bustle of La Guardia Airport. A frequent traveler who lives in Hong Kong, he was braced for the many familiar hassles of modern air travel: waiting in the ticket line, kicking off his shoes for the security screening, the potential of a delayed or canceled flight, airport food.

But moments after he got out of his taxi on a recent morning, the skycaps at the curb refused to take his bags, and instead urged him into a second waiting taxi, post haste. Mr. Bohart discovered that he was experiencing a travel nightmare of a different sort.

“How far is J.F.K. from La Guardia?” he asked.

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