Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:
Welcome to the 349th issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine. With this issue, ITN begins its 30th year of publication.

A few months ago, Donald Bridgman of Lincoln, California, wrote to ITN, “I found this in one of my bags on my return from a trip to Alaska.”

The Transportation Security Administration had opened his luggage and left a notice saying, “TSA screeners have removed any plastic lighters or safety matches discovered in your baggage. For the safety of you and other passengers, the Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations. . . prohibits the carriage of lighters or matches in checked baggage. . .”

Donald asked, “Is this not an exact reversal of the previous TSA policy? I recall lighters being taken from me because they were in my briefcase rather than my checked baggage.”

Yes, Donald, the TSA did reverse its rule. ITN tried to pin down exactly when that change was made and could only determine it was sometime before August ’03, but, indeed, the rule reversed what was being enforced just after 9/11 in 2001, allowing NO matches or lighters of any type in checked baggage but allowing you to take on board an aircraft, either on your person or in your carry-on bag, up to four books of safety matches or two lighters of specific types (disposable butane lighters such Bic or lighters that are fueled with absorbed liquid such as Zippo).

But all of that changed again with the passage of the Collins-Lieberman Intelligence Reform & Terrorism Prevention Act on Dec. 17, and as of Feb. 15, 2005, NO lighters of any type are being allowed on airplanes flying within or from or transferring through the U.S. — not in checked or carry-on bags or on your person. Basically, anyone walking through a TSA checkpoint will have their lighters confiscated.

At press time, it had not been determined yet whether to allow passengers to carry safety matches on board.

In an item from, a question about pillowcases on airlines received this answer from Captain Meryl Getline (USA Today): “International flights are serviced after every flight. On domestic flights, pillowcases, blankets and headrest slipcovers are not changed after every flight, but they are replaced after the last flight of the day. There are variables, of course. For instance, an airplane may stay overnight at a station that’s too small to handle this type of servicing, in which case cleaning is handled at the next available station.”

In January, in a move to make cabin cleaning quicker and thus save money, American Airlines removed passenger pillows from its MD-80 airplanes used for shorter domestic flights. Out of AA’s 704 aircraft, there are 334 MD-80s in the fleet.

Celebrity Cruises has canceled the Caribbean itinerary of its Century and moved the ship to Amsterdam for Northern and Eastern Europe cruises. With the dollar’s value dropping against the euro, travelers are finding a cruise ship — with lodging and food already paid for in dollars — a good alternative to land-based lodging and dining.

A tour company that submits a good travel tip deserves a plug: Boundless Journeys (Stowe, Vermont; 800/941-8010) reminds readers that “tour operators such as (you know who) set their prices over a year in advance of an actual trip departure in order to make printing and distribution deadlines. Trip prices are determined by the exchange rate at that time, and when the dollar declines in value, a packaged tour’s value increases and offers a significant savings to travelers who might otherwise travel independently.”

The subject of this month’s “Travel & Health” column is Economy Class Syndrome, also known as Deep Vein Thrombosis, something which drinking tomato juice may help prevent, according to the December ’04 issue of Men’s Health magazine.

Australian researchers found that, over three weeks, adults who drank eight ounces of tomato juice daily lowered their blood’s ability to clot by 30%. Low-sodium tomato juice was recommended to avoid the effects of salt on raising blood pressure.

Mary Ann Gerlach of Elm Grove, Wisconsin, wrote, “We placed an item in ITN’s ‘Person to Person’ section asking for information about eastern Turkey. Our expectations were very low for helpful responses (as found in the past). Boy, were we wrong! We had 12 replies, each thoughtful and helpful in some way.

“I replied to one woman with some questions and she sent a 4-page answer! Her last line was, ‘Wish we could return to Turkey sooner but we’re going to Bayreuth in August.’

“Well, guess what? My husband and I were planning to attend Wagner’s third Ring in Germany at the same time, so we all decided to meet for dinner. Upon setting that up, our e-mails had as much to do with our passion for opera as our passion for travel. We may have been at all kinds of productions together without knowing it.

“We ended up having a delightful dinner at the Bayreuth Festspiele during the Ring in August. Sandra and Larry Molyneux (from San Francisco) are wonderful people with whom we found so much in common beyond just Wagner and travel. We know we will see them again.

“For ITN readers answering queries, I could suggest this. Maybe tell a bit about yourself when you reply. Where you are going or have been or something about your passions. This could add a wonderful dimension to ‘Person to Person’.”

He may have signed it J.P. Williams, Glocca Morra Tourist Office, 1 Scotch Dram, Brigadoon, U.K, but we know better. From San Jose, California, J.P. wrote, “Thank you for ITN’s excellent biennial index, list of national tourist bureaus and crossword puzzles. The best to all of you at ITN.”

With two out of those three in this issue, you’re charmed with luck, J.P.

— David Tykol, Editor