The Accidental Tourist – Summary

The Accidental Tourist by Bill Bryson is about his bad experiences during air flights. The author finds himself uncomfortable during his travelling by air and was never able to enjoy them nicely.


The author thinks that living in this world is most outstanding. Other people do things without difficulty but for him it is not so.

Once on Easter the author went for a trip with his family. They were flying to England for a week. They were checking in at the Logan Airport in Boston. He remembered that he had joined British Airways’ frequent flyer programme and he had put the card in his carry-on bag. It hung around his neck.

The zip on the bag was jammed. He pulled at it with anger. His things like tin of pipe tobacco, magazines, passport, money, etc., spread over a large area. He looked at these things in great surprise. He cursed at his tobacco. He had injured his finger. There was a deep wound. He was confused. His wife looked at him in wonder.

The author was always confused in his air travels and caused confusion to others. Once he bent to tie his shoe lace, someone pushed his seat back, he got pinned to the floor and had to catch the leg of the man near him.

On another occasion he knocked soft drinks on the lap of a lady twice.

His worst experience was when he was writing his thoughts on a plane flight. He had his pen in his mouth. It leaked while he was talking to the lady in the next seat.

The author’s wife cautioned the children on the flight about the author. He would cut the meat but it would fly. But when he was alone he did not eat or drink.

The author did not get his flyers miles in that way as he couldn’t find his card in time. He must fly 1,00,000 miles a year. But he could only gather 212 air miles from twenty-three airlines.

This was because he forgot to ask for the air miles. Sometimes the airline didn’t record these. The airline clerk informed him he was not entitled to them.

In January he flew to Australia hoping to get about million miles. The airline clerk informed him he was not entitled to them. He asked the reason. The clerk said the ticket was in the name of B. Bryson and the card was in the name of W. Bryson. He explained that Bill and William were hardly different but she didn’t accept that.

Thus, the author didn’t get his air miles.

Try aiPDF, our new AI assistant for students and researchers