WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sen. Ted Kennedy, the archetypal liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, is often called names by Republicans. But until this year he had never been viewed as a threat to U.S. air travel.

Kennedy -- one of the most recognizable figures in American politics -- told a Senate committee hearing on Thursday he had been blocked several times from boarding commercial airline flights because his name was on a "no-fly" list intended to exclude potential terrorists.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard Kennedy was eventually allowed on the flights, but it took numerous calls to the Department of Homeland Security to clear up the mistake and get his name off the list.

Noting it had taken him weeks to resolve the matter, Kennedy wondered aloud how difficult it might be for ordinary Americans to have their names removed if they were also mistakenly placed on the watch list.

A Kennedy spokesman said the whole thing had resulted from a simple error and had not been politically motivated.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge personally called Kennedy "to make sure that the situation was remedied," said a spokeswoman for Ridge's department.