Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 382nd issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine, the one written largely by you and your fellow subscribers!

A few items worth noting crossed my desk this month.

The International Airline Passenger Association, or IAPA (, in a Sept. 14 press release wrote, “The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering new rules which may see the airline passenger receiving increased compensation for being denied boarding by any U.S. airline.

“Currently, many airlines overbook planes to ensure maximum profits can be made, but this means that some passengers who arrive at the airport don’t end up getting on their flights.

“According to current legislation, passengers who are flying within the U.S. are entitled to different rates of compensation, depending on whether their arrival is delayed by less or more than two hours.

“For those delayed by less than two hours, the compensation rate is 100% of the full price of their one-way fare, up to a maximum of $200, while passengers delayed by more than two hours get 200% of the full one-way fare, up to a maximum of $400. However, these rates do vary for international flights. Currently, passengers on board planes that seat 30 to 60 passengers receive no compensation at all if they are not able to get onto their flights. . . .

“. . . we do feel that the limits that are currently being imposed are unrealistic and should be increased to $400 and $800. . . It is not acceptable that airlines have the right to deny boarding when compensation is still at the same rate as it was in 1978.”

If you’d care to reach the USDOT, see the box of helpful phone numbers that always appears on the first page of the MART Classifieds, in this issue page 109.

As of November, for security purposes, all visitors to Japan over age 16 (except diplomats) are required to be digitally fingerprinted and photographed. Those who refuse will be denied entry.

In Sydney, Australia’s, Rocks district recently, men impersonating police had tourists hand over passports and credit cards for scanning. The victims — Japanese tourists in at least eight incidents — were instructed to enter their PINs and later found that money had been withdrawn from their accounts.

Authorities advise all visitors approached by any policeman to insist on seeing his badge and I.D. card and knowing his name, rank and the station he is from before cooperating. And remember that under no circumstance should an officer ask to scan your bank card or credit card on the street.

Keep an eye on your speedometer in Helsinki, Finland. With a 20% increase in traffic accidents this September from a year before, officials are pushing for “zero tolerance” of traffic violations, to bring some order back to the roads.

Beijing, China, in another move to clean up the city for the 2008 Olympics, has banned smoking in taxis; neither driver nor passengers may smoke. Also, at the upcoming Games, the plan is for smoking as well as cigarette sales not to be allowed at Olympic venues.

Other behavioral campaigns in Beijing include no spitting, no littering, and queuing up in an orderly way.

In Amsterdam, Netherlands, the 700-year-old red-light district draws as many sightseers as the Van Gogh Museum, but it also has seen an increase in petty crime, including money laundering and drug dealing. So the city has arranged to buy 18 buildings — about a third of the brothels, with a total of 51 display windows — from one of the main property owners.

Other such businesses will remain, as the profession is legal and licensed in the Netherlands, where the workers pay taxes, have a union, get regular medical checkups and receive protection from the police.

This month, Celebrity Cruises (800/437-3111) debuts the Celebrity Solstice, whose cabins have new features suggested by a panel of women.

On Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships, the cabins will be 15% larger and have higher beds to allow more luggage storage underneath plus nightstands with individual reading lights. In the bathrooms, which are 24% larger, there will be foot rails in the shower for leg shaving plus fog-free mirrors. Also, the doorways between cabins that interconnect will be more soundproof.

In the September ’07 issue, on page 124 Publisher Armond Noble explained that, due to the massive increase in second-class postage rates imposed by the post office recently, this magazine was forced to raise its subscription rates. Longtime subscribers know that ITN rarely does this.

One reader balked: “I just have to write you and object to your rationale to raise subscription rates. You make it sound that your advertisers are more important than we readers. Which is it? By charging us more and, in effect, charging the advertisers less, we are, in effect, subsidizing the advertisers.”

In his reply, Armond explained that ITN raised its advertising rates by the same percentage as its subscription rates. He also revealed that our advertisers pay ITN about 1.5 times what the subscribers pay. Armond then named a few popular magazines that stopped publishing entirely when companies stopped advertising in them: Travel Holiday, LIFE, Look, Saturday Review. . .

ITN’s advertisers remain loyal largely because its readers are good customers, traveling overseas so often. We are proud that 98.4% of our subscribers have passports — a percentage much greater than ANY other magazine can claim!

Keep in mind that without the advertisers, the magazine’s subscription price would be much higher and there would be fewer pages per issue. And not only do the advertisements provide information on upcoming tours, many of these companies provide individual travel arrangements — at favorable rates.

As Armond explained, you will find here smaller travel companies that advertise nowhere else. . . and provide better value. . . and help keep ITN’s subscription price STILL a bargain. Twelve issues cost only $24. Over a year of reading ITN, can you not recoup that much in savings from all the readers’ recommendations, travel tips and warnings about travel firms’ costly policies? How much is it worth to you to avoid the hassles that some ITN subscribers have written about in these pages? How about $2 a month?

ITN — still a bargain!

Before I sign off, I want to direct your attention to one of the features in this month’s issue. It’s written by Robert Pine. He and his wife — longtime ITN subscribers! — are, according to the Travelers’ Century Club, the world’s most-traveled couple, and Robert kindly shared some observations from their long experience.

Before we went to press, I called the Pines to get a few words from Dorothy’s perspective, in particular asking, “How can two people travel together successfully for so long — you know, without killing each other?”

She replied, “Be flexible and have a good sense of humor.”

Robert chimed in with, “We’ve been married for 65 years and we’re still waiting to see if it’s going to work out.”

If any of you know a few secrets to remaining compatible travel companions, for Heaven’s sake, please share them!