Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:
Welcome to the 352nd issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine.

“As a longtime subscriber, I must write every so often to tell you how much I enjoy the magazine.” So wrote Ann White of Concord, California, continuing, “I have contributed pictures and small articles throughout the years and am enclosing some names of my traveling friends each to receive a complimentary copy. Keep up the good work and writing. The crossword in each issue is lots of fun!”

We thank Ann for the kind words and the names and addresses of potential subscribers. On that point, ITN reader Evans M. Harrell of Marietta, Georgia, had a brilliant idea. He wrote, “We’re perpetually recommending ITN to those we encounter who either are traveling or express an interest in travel. Usually we jot down ITN’s Web or e-mail address, but it would be nice to have a few business-card-sized cards to simply hand out. Something that’s small, light and easy to pack in a corner of the suitcase.”

Done! We have printed up business-card-sized cards that tell how to request a free sample copy of ITN and which also state, “You will be sent a complimentary copy of the next-printed issue, with no obligation to subscribe.”

If any of you wants a few of these cards to help spread the word about this magazine, which is largely written by travelers like you, you need only ask. You can call 800/486-4968; you can write to ITN Sample Copy Cards, 2224 Beaumont St., Ste. D, Sacramento, CA 95815, or you can e-mail However you request them, we’ll send you a dozen cards. Thanks in advance.

Art Coopersmith of Culver City, California, wrote, “As I was reading my April ’05 issue, I was startled to see the article about Noboribetsu (page 80). I hadn’t thought about that wonderful place for many years.

“I was stationed in Muroran, Japan, about 25 miles south of Noboribetsu, for most of 1946. I was in the 152nd Airborne Antiaircraft Batallion, a part of the 11th Airborne Division. We were detached from the rest of the division, and Noboribetsu hot springs was our own private rest camp to which we were lucky enough to go frequently. We understood that it was one of Hirohito’s private getaways when he was emperor of Japan.

“I was a staff sergeant, and one of my friends ran the place. I had my own room that was saved exclusively for me when I went there. Such fond memories. Such a tough life.

“Things were different then. In the public baths in town the sexes were not segregated when they bathed there. Many of us went there too, even though we had our own private baths. Funny how some young men, the GIs in the army, were not comfortable bathing in the nude with nonsegregated baths, but they sure liked to peek in the windows.

“If any of my ex-buddies have read this, I’d sure love to hear from them.”

ITN printed a few letters from readers whose credit cards, after they used them in various places (including the U.S.), had been “copied” (Aug. ’04, pg. 81 & Oct. ’04, pg. 18). In March, police in Malaysia arrested a suspect they believe was the mastermind of an international credit card forgery ring, someone who had eluded capture for 10 years.

Leading up to that arrest, investigators had arrested someone possessing a machine used to forge credit cards complete with magnetic strips and hologram security seals. It is believed the syndicate used portable palm-top computers to tap into telephone lines transmitting bank data; they would encode the data into the cards. This group specialized in “gold” and “platinum” credit cards with higher spending limits.

Incidentally, after printing the above-mentioned letters, ITN wrote to four major credit card companies asking simply for any advice on how to prevent becoming a victim of credit card copying and for any tips on what to do if it did happen. Not one replied.

According to a European Union ruling in February 2005, if you are flying within the E.U. or to/from an E.U. airport on an E.U. airline and your flight is canceled or you are “bumped” (denied boarding despite your having a confirmed booking), you may file for compensation from the airline for up to €250 for a short flight or up to €600 for a long flight. If your flight is delayed, you are entitled to money for meals and phone calls. If the delay is more than five hours, you can get your money back as well as a free night in a hotel.

The airlines are fighting this.

I would think this goes without saying, but it’s official now in Australia. Among new laws is one stating that aviation security officials and law enforcement officers will no longer distinguish between a joke threat and what might be a genuine threat to Australia’s airports, airlines or aviation industry workers.

Officials have to take seriously all threats, whether serious or not. Searches must be made, and those along with the delays can be costly.

Anyone making a joke threat about aviation security — even in smaller regional airports in Australia — will be arrested and fined Aus$5,500.

ITN Contributing Editor Wayne Wirtanen says that if you Google “Wayne Wirtanen+travel insurance,” you will find an archive of 10 years’ worth of his articles on that subject as printed in ITN.

John F. Humphrey, Jr., of Knoxville, Tennessee, utilized ITN’s “Person to Person” section and then sent us this: “A report on my two requests for help — First time, two replies. Second time, four replies, with two follow-ups. I sent each a ‘Thank you.’ All were good replies. Maps, folders, long letters and info on what to do and what not to do. This is a very good service for the readers.”

Lloyd M. Adams of Vancouver, Washington, told us, “I want to commend ITN for its most effective ‘Person to Person’ column. ITN printed my request for information on hotels in Hong Kong in the February issue and I received over 50 responses, all of them positive and helpful. I could hardly believe the way the telephone calls and letters came pouring in. This tells me ITN has a lot of great and very generous subscribers.”

Be aware that Mr. Humphrey’s experience, receiving two or four replies, is more common than that of Mr. Adams. And if you do ask readers for recommendations or tips, don’t forget your p’s and q’s: anyone taking the time to answer a specific information request surely deserves a “Thank you,” however brief.

I would remind readers that the Message Board on ITN’s website,, is another place to post travel information requests — and share travel reports. On the homepage, just click on the “For Subscribers” link. If you need answers quickly from other travelers, this is an alternative to having your question printed in the magazine.

As anyone can access ITN’s Message Board, it’s heartening when vigilant readers e-mail our Website Manager the moment any spam is posted. We thank those of you frequenting the site and caring that the content remain as intended — an exchange of information for the benefit of ITN’s traveling readers.

— David Tykol, Editor