The Discerning Traveler

(First of two parts)

When ITN reader Winnie Baffa forfeited her payments after she was unable to attend her March ’07 holiday package in Spain (Dec. ’07, pg. 37), she contacted her credit card company to obtain reimbursement for some of her expenses.

She was turned down, however, and sent a letter to the Editor of ITN, who asked me to research the matter of reimbursement for a missed or canceled cruise or tour.

The Fair Credit Billing Act

Compensation for this...


I pulled on the rope, whereupon the bucket promptly made the expected 180-degree tumble. A cascade of delightfully warm water washed over me. Feeling clean once again in the Kenyan bush, where we were on a hiking safari, I sat down on the rickety chair in the makeshift shower enclosure to dry my feet. As I bent over, one leg of the chair gave way and I landed on my right shoulder.

Excruciating pain and the inability to raise my arm suggested a rotator cuff tear. I didn’t think I had...


With difficulty, I tried to pull my backpack from the itsy-bitsy storage space under the seat in front of me. It was two hours into the flight and the passenger in front of me had reclined his seat. The rucksack just wouldn’t budge.

I got up, squatted in the aisle and gave the backpack another tug. Hurrah! Now I could get at the lunch I had so carefully prepared.

Most of us are aware that food is no longer served on many flights, in order to reduce carriers’ costs. This forces...


by Philip Wagenaar, M.D. (second of two parts)

Last month, I discussed the many causes of delayed and canceled flights and suggested a few tactics on dealing with the problem. This month, I continue my discourse.


Since federal law does not require compensation to passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled, you are stuck with only a few options if you don’t rebook.

• Ask for a refund of the airfare.

• Accept one or more of the amenities (which...


by Philip Wagenaar, M.D., first of two parts

It was 11:35 a.m. when the Alaska Airlines gate agent intoned, “I am sorry to inform you that flight 580’s departure to San Diego has been postponed. It has been rescheduled for 1:30 p.m. Everybody may pick up a voucher for a sandwich and a drink at this desk.”

Before the rep had finished, a crowd had swarmed the desk. Where else can you get a free sandwich and free drink?

By 1 p.m. we were again gazing out over the tarmac at...


In this issue, I am continuing my travelogue of the South Island, which we visited in January 2007 as part of a 4-week Elderhostel (Boston, MA; 800/454-5768, program in New Zealand.

Te Anau

Our group’s next overnight was in Te Anau, located on the shores of the lake by the same name.

On one of our previous trips, my wife, Flory, and I had taken Air New Zealand’s flight 1515, a large jet from Auckland on the North Island to Christchurch on the South...


—The Discerning Traveler is written by Philip Wagenaar.

(First of two parts)

It was our third trip to New Zealand. We were on a 4-week Elderhostel (11 Ave. de Lafayette, Boston, MA 02111; 800/454-5768, tour of the North and South Islands.

Our last journey, in 1984, had culminated in the county hospital in Nelson on the South Island, where my wife, Flory, was treated for two weeks after she fell when stepping out of the shower.

The accident,...


by Philip Wagenaar, M.D.

“I know, you just saw me two months ago,” my favorite aunt, Lenie, said. “I am in the VU hospital in Amsterdam now. My doctor says that I don’t have much longer to live. You think you could see me again? I would rather have you come and visit while I am still alive. You don’t have to come when I am dead.”

(Although my aunt Lenie died five years ago, I always refer to her statement when somebody might be reluctant to visit. “Come and visit me now,” I will...