Concern for travelers with disabilities going through airport security screening. Airports with the most passenger traffic.

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

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 448th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine.

View of a man-made lake and the hotel The Address Downtown Dubai from Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE. Photo: Philip Lange/

Mike Kalt wrote to us, “I am a longtime ITN subscriber, and I just started a travel-discussion group (CP Globetrotters) at the Carolina Preserve development in Cary, North Carolina. We have over 70 members in our group so far, and over 40 of them turned out for our first meeting.  

“One of the topics on the agenda was ‘What’s Your Favorite Travel Magazine?’ and I did a short presentation on my favorite, ITN. Several people were very interested, and I pointed them to the ‘Sample Copy’ link on your website, so don’t be surprised if you get lots of requests from the 27519 ZIP code for your promised free samples. Keep up the good work!”

Vicki Stowell of Ventura, California, wrote, “I think that ITN is the BEST travel magazine on the market. I have recommended it to so many of my friends. It is the one magazine that I look forward to each month, and when it arrives I get a cup of tea and treat myself to reading it from beginning to end at one time. I also note articles of particular interest to me on the front cover for the ease of locating information later. Thanks for a great publication.”

Vicki has something in common with Merrill Sarty of Los Angeles, who wrote, “I would like to ask your readers how they organize all the information gleaned from ITN in a way useful to their individual needs. As a longtime subscriber, my first step is to write selected page numbers on the front cover during my first read-through of the magazine. Alas, I’ve never developed a consistently, reliably useful second step to the process. Any suggestions out there?”

Well, pencils ready! Here comes the news.


Just last month I gave details of the Transportation Security Administration’s plan to allow passengers on flights in the US to carry aboard certain types of pocket knives and sports equipment, such as hockey sticks. 

The TSA had determined that someone using these types of items could not bring down a plane. The flight attendants’ union and some members of the public did not feel so reassured, however, and the rule change, which was to begin April 25, has been delayed “In order to accommodate further input from the Aviation Security Advisory Committee.” 

At press time, it was not known when the proposed changes might be implemented. For a list of items currently prohibited on planes, see this page on the TSA website.


Here’s a move by the TSA that shows thoughtfulness and also may make lines at airports move more quickly.

For travelers with disabilities or medical conditions who may have concerns about security screening procedures in airports, more than 3,000 TSA officers and supervisors are now receiving training to be Passenger Support Specialists (PSS). Travelers with medical conditions who need particular care or have questions at screening checkpoints can request a PSS agent to assist them. 

In addition, prior to their going to the airport, passengers with disabilities or medical conditions and their families who have questions about screening procedures relevant to their conditions now may call a toll-free TSA helpline for answers.

The TSA Cares Helpline (855/787-2227), toll free in the US, is open 8 a.m.-11 p.m. EST Monday-Friday and 9-8 weekends and holidays. 


For years, London Heathrow has been the airport with the most passengers on international flights passing through it. In 2012, more than 65 million people went through Heathrow. However, preliminary totals for 2013 indicate that the number of international passengers moving through Dubai International Airport is growing, and within two years that airport could move to the top of the list for the first time.

Comparing the first two months of 2012 to the same period this year, passenger traffic through the Dubai airport rose 13%, moving it up a couple of slots.

Based on the total numbers of passengers, the following two lists come from a report released by the Airports Council International, which assembles statistics on passenger and freight traffic through the world’s airports.


2012 top 10 airports ranked by international passenger traffic:

  1. London Heathrow (LHR)    65 mil.
  2. Dubai (DXB)    57 mil.
  3. Paris (CDG)    56 mil.
  4. Hong Kong (HKG)    55 mil.
  5. Amsterdam (AMS)    50 mil.
  6. Frankfurt (FRA)    50 mil.
  7. Singapore (SIN)    49 mil.
  8. Bangkok (BKK)    39 mil.
  9. Incheon (ICN)    38 mil.
  10. Madrid (MAD)    30 mil.


2012 top 10 airports ranked by domestic and international passenger traffic:

  1. Atlanta (ATL)    95 mil.
  2. Beijing (PEK)    81 mil.
  3. London (LHR)    70 mil.
  4. Tokyo (HND)    67 mil.
  5. Chicago (ORD)    67 mil.
  6. Los Angeles (LAX)    63 mil.
  7. Paris (CDG)    61 mil.
  8. Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW)    58 mil.
  9. Dubai (DXB)    58 mil.
  10. Jakarta (CGK)    57 mil.

Kathy Wheale of Greenville, South Carolina, described booking a flight for her husband, Bob, and herself. They were heading to Copenhagen to embark on a Norwegian fjords cruise with Azamara Club Cruises. 

She cashed in her husband’s frequent-flyer miles on his ticket and two weeks later booked her seat on the same flight using her own miles plus cash. (The departure date was far off, the following year.)

A while later, Bob got an email telling him his flight had been changed. He was now stopping at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and would end up arriving in Copenhagen two hours later than Kathy.

Kathy called the airline, and the rep agreed to move the couple to the same flight.

She wrote to ITN, “I took responsibility for some of the confusion. Since I still use my maiden name and booked the award tickets on separate dates, they had no way of knowing we were married and traveling together.

“I’d like to advise other travelers to confirm, confirm, confirm their travel arrangements.

“We enjoyed the cruise immensely.”


Back when our September 2012 issue was published, we received the following note from Don Klein of Chicago: “I never write messages like this one, but the latest issue of ITN has moved me to do so.

“I want you to know how much I appreciated the article on the ‘preexisting-condition clause’ in the column ‘Eye On Travel Insurance’ (July ’12, pg. 58 and, part two, Sept. ’12, pg. 58). Though I have always appreciated how important this topic is, it had confused me for years. Wayne Wirtanen’s article was amazing. It took all of the ‘fine print’ that I could never understand and made it perfectly clear in just a few pages of simple English (and a great summary table).”

Wayne has another article in this issue, simplifying and clarifying an aspect of travel insurance rarely, if ever, covered in other travel publications. His explanation could save you from having to do a mountain of paperwork in the event of filing a major claim.


Jerry Mendel of Buenos Aires, Argentina, wrote, “For my trips, I do a lot of research to find the best hotels at the most reasonable prices. Depending on the locations, I would like to hear about inexpensive hotels (not hostels) that other ITN readers would recommend in the $100-and-under range. 

“Recently, I researched a trip that would include Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where the selection of hotels in the $25-per-night range is amazing. Guests who reviewed these places online gave them very high grades. 

“In 2011 I stayed in a large hotel in Helsinki that was part of a chain local to Finland, Sokos ( It was three short blocks from the Central Station, and the room rate of $109 included a buffet breakfast that probably was better than one served at a 5-star hotel. (Checking just now, however, it seems rates in Helsinki have increased dramatically since my visit.)

“And why stop with hotels? Reviews of restaurants with inexpensive meals would be equally great to read.”

The basis of this magazine you’re reading is that its subscribers share information, opinions and experiences with each other about travel outside of the US. Whether you travel deluxe or on a shoestring, you have knowledge that others will appreciate and can benefit from. Jot down the what, where, when and how much and shoot it off to us in an email or even a letter. (We still have staff members who can read longhand.)


Okay, this is Last Call for answering the question ‘Where Were You in 2012?’ In this unofficial poll among our subscribers only, participants’ names will be entered into a drawing for prizes. 

All you have to do is write up a list of all of the nations you visited anytime in 2012 and address it to Where Were You in 2012?, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or e-mail Include your mailing address (where you receive ITN).

The tally of countries most visited last year by ITN subscribers — and the announcement of prize winners — will be printed in an upcoming issue. Preliminary results show a dearth of African nations visited recently, not to mention Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Surprisingly, no one has mentioned Vatican City, San Marino or Paraguay! Send in your list.

Ruth Lier of Los Alamos, New Mexico, sent in an email subject-titled “2012 Nations Visited,” saying, “My husband, Doug, and I enjoyed another 16-day Vantage Deluxe World Travel riverboat trip in April 2012. We visited France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands. We love these trips where he can hike up steep hills to the castles and I can explore the villages. 

“After many years of various adventures to obscure destinations, we are comfortable — in our advanced years (81 and 83) — to use the rivers for transport between interesting places. 

“We have enjoyed ten 2-week European bike trips, including the Danube for two weeks, and still are happy to find spots along it via riverboat to intrigue us no matter how many times we visit. Our advice to novice travelers — there is no way one sees everything on any trip, so returning years later still brings the joy of new discoveries.

“Keep pedaling, paddling, hiking, walking, skiing, sailing and snorkeling the world!”

Thanks for writing, Ruth.    — DT