EU nations' passengers' rights. Also, Frankfurt Airport traveler-friendly additions.

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the February 2013 issue.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 444th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine, the one you and your fellow ITN subscribers help write. (Tell us about your latest discovery outside of the US.)

This statue at Reichsburg Castle in Cochem, Germany, overlooks the Mosel River. Photo: Beth Habian, ITN

Here’s an item of interest for those of you planning a visit to Europe.

As of Dec. 31, 2012, all passengers traveling by sea and inland waterways in European Union nations will have rights similar to those of travelers on planes and trains in those countries, whether citizens of EU member nations or not. The following rules will be enforced.

Adequate and accessible information about passenger rights must be provided before and during any journey.

If departure is delayed more than 90 minutes or canceled, adequate snacks or meals and, when necessary, accommodation up to three nights will be provided. Also, the passenger may choose between reimbursement and rerouting.

For a delay at arrival, compensation between 25% and 50% of the ticket price is warranted.

At port terminals and on board ship, disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility are entitled to nondiscriminatory treatment and “specific” assistance free of charge as well as financial compensation for loss or damage to their mobility equipment.

Terminal operators and carriers must put in place mechanisms to handle passengers’ complaints.

A passenger involved in an accident at sea is entitled to [1] financial compensation for death, personal injury and loss of or damage to property; [2] advance payment (within 15 days) to cover immediate financial needs in case of death or personal injury; [3] direct recourse against the carrier’s insurance provider in case of death or personal injury, and [4] comprehensible information regarding these rights prior to or upon departure.

See the European Commission webpage “Your passenger rights at hand".

Also showing some thought for the needs of travelers, Germany’s Frankfurt Airport (FRA) has begun installing departure-information boards in Terminals 1 and 2 that indicate the average walking times to various flight gates. As a flight is assigned to a gate, each board will display the amount of time it would take the average person to walk to that gate from the sign’s location.

Eight boards are being installed behind the security-screening areas and passport-check area in Terminal 1 (two in Pier A and the other six in the non-Schengen part of Pier B). There also will be a new board in the Schengen part of Terminal 2.

For travelers with limited mobility, if their gate is in the new C/D pier between terminals 1 and 2, they may take a free shuttle (golf-cart-style transport), which regularly runs through the connecting corridor.

Frankfurt Airport also has set up special “fast lanes” at the security checkpoints that you can use if you have fewer than 30 minutes to make your connecting flight. Monitor screens show which flights are affected, and passengers boarding those flights may use the fast lanes.

If you’re expecting to have a meal on an upcoming flight and you’re curious about what will be offered, here’s a website that may provide an answer:

Travelers submit photos and descriptions of airline meals to this site, which is updated regularly. The images and reviews are sorted by airline name and seat class. A few special-diet meals (gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.) are shown, as are meals served in a number of airport lounges. Just for fun, there’s an archive with decades-old menu cards and airline ads from magazines, plus other trivia.

If you’re truly interested in travel nostalgia, you’ll appreciate the database compiled by the Northwestern University Library in Evanston, Illinois. You can find the Transportation Library Menu Collection by visiting the library's website and typing “Transportation Menu” in the search bar.

The collection includes digital images of 381 menu cards used on airlines, trains and ocean liners from 1928 to the present.

Donna Pyle of Boulder, Colorado, wrote, “Searching ITN’s Archives on its website, I found, printed in the July 2004 issue, a subscriber’s recommendation for the Gumnut Tea Room, with an address in The Rocks area of Sydney, Australia.

“This restaurant no longer exists. On a trip there in October ‘12, my husband and I tried to find it, but no one in the area had any idea. The local tourist office tried the phone number for us and said it had been disconnected.”

Thanks for the update, Donna. We’ve noted it on the online edition, too.

Susan Jerrick of Portland, Oregon, wrote, “Just a quick ‘Thank you’ for printing the letter titled “Buying Train Tickets Online” (Nov. ‘12, pg. 11), written by Kathy Wilhelm of Cary, North Carolina.

“I always knew that tickets from the travel agency Rail Europe were usually quite a bit more expensive than those purchased directly from the rail lines, but I was unaware of the numerous other and better websites out there from which to purchase tickets.”

All the credit goes to Kathy, Susan. She thought readers might benefit from her experience. Your note proves she was right.

This issue of ITN contains a few more subscribers’ letters on the subject “Looking for Foreign Relatives or Ancestors.” The writers are clearly enthusiastic about sharing what they’ve learned about genealogy research.

Another person who deserves credit is ITN Assistant Editor Jane Albusché, who did extensive fact-checking on all of the letters we received on that topic — a huge undertaking in itself, considering the volume of material submitted. Whenever ITN solicits letters on a particular subject for compilation, she’s usually the one who organizes them and does most of the fact-checking and the initial editing.

She has been a valuable asset to this magazine and I wanted to acknowledge that.

A couple of years ago, ITN’s founder, Armond Noble, began polling subscribers about where they had traveled the previous year, offering prizes for simply participating! It’s that time again.

Write up a list of the nations you visited anytime from January 1 to December 31, 2012, and address it to Where Were You in 2012?, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or e-mail

It’s helpful that ITN staff knows where subscribers are traveling — what places are coming into fashion or going out — plus we can use the results to inform advertisers. (The more ads there are in an issue of ITN, the more pages we can print.) If that doesn’t get you writing in, may I remind you about the prizes?! We’ll have a random drawing for dozens of winners, with the grand prize a 50-dollar gift certificate for Magellan’s Travel Supplies.

What countries did you visit last year? Send those lists in!

Okay, how many of you noticed the new address I just cited for ITN? That’s right. We’ve moved. All the way to… next door. I ran out of space in last month’s column to point that out, but our main office is now located at 2116 28th Street.

The cats are adjusting.

Before I sign off, I do have sad news to report. Flory Wagenaar, wife of ITN Contributing Editor Philip Wagenaar, died on December 5 of a chest infection. She and Philip had just taken a 75-day cruise.

In Philip’s curriculum vitae, Philip describes meeting Flory, a medical student, at the University of Amsterdam and marrying her in 1949. Both became medical doctors, he in ophthalmology and she in anesthesiology.

They raised three children and two cousins and enjoyed a life of world travel, finally settling in Seattle. We extend our condolences to Philip and the rest of the Wagenaar family.— DT