Airlines' “on time” and “lost bags” report. Ships sailing farthest south.

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the April 2017 issue.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 494th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine.

Those of you who regularly visit our website — — in order to read the latest issue, post a question on the Message Board or access years’ worth of travelers’ articles and letters for your trip planning, well, you may have noticed some improvements lately.

Now when you look for information on a destination, tour company, hotel, etc. (just type a place name or company name into the Search bar), the results will come up with the most recent articles at the top and older ones farther down, in reverse chronological order. Sounds logical, even elementary, but it’s been a long time coming to get this straightened out. We’re thankful for our current Web Developer, Demian.

The subscription page on our website has been revamped as well, with all the choices clearly laid out. Subscribing to the digital version of ITN costs only $15 a year. If you subscribe to the print edition, for $24 you’ll receive a copy of the magazine in the mail each month for a year (or three years’ worth for $57) PLUS you’ll be granted full access to the website, where you can see pictures in color and easily search for what’s been written on your next destination.

To guide us in improving the website, let us know what you find most useful about it. We’re open to input.

In the world of travel, here’s some good news to share —

Every month, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) releases its Air Travel Consumer Report. Among the statistics published in the report are the numbers of flight delays, mishandled-baggage claims, airline-ticket oversales and consumer complaints.

According to the January 2017 report, with information collected in November 2016, November had the highest rate of on-time flights (86.5%) and the lowest rate of canceled flights (0.3%) since the DOT began keeping records in 1995.

Even the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International — with more than 30,000 flights arriving and departing in November 2016 alone — jumped on the bandwagon, with 89.2% of the departing flights leaving on time.

It was a banner month nationwide for baggage handling, too. Baggage-handling statistics are expressed in the number of reports of mishandling per 1,000 passengers. In November, that number was 2.02. (In raw numbers, there were 105,239 reports of mishandled baggage for the 52,030,672 passengers who flew on US airlines that month.)

That was the lowest rate reported since the DOT began tracking mishandled baggage in 1987.

We could call that a pretty good month for American flyers!

Prior to press time, the February report was released. Its numbers did not match the phenomenal ones published in January, however.

On Jan. 28 of this year, The World — a residential cruise ship on which the passengers own their cabins — did something rather amazing. 

It traveled farther south than ANY vessel has ever traveled before, reaching the geographical line 78°43.997'S. (For those of you who don't read nautical, that's 78 degrees, 43 “point” 997 minutes south, and laterally it was at 163°41.421W.) Being that far south would have put the ship right beside the Ross Ice Shelf.

During the Antarctic voyage, the 165-suite The World (Ft. Lauderdale, FL; 954/538-8400, was carrying 145 passengers. 

The remarkable part isn't that a ship was able to get that far south — the World beat the record by only 0.026 nautical minutes, which at that latitude is about 300 feet — it's that a cruise ship not accompanied by an icebreaker would attempt it at all.

The previous record holder was the Akademik Shokalskiy, a former polar-research ship with an ice-strengthened hull, which made the trip in 2016 while carrying passengers for Heritage Expeditions (based in Christchurch, New Zealand; phone, in the US and Canada, 866/285-7884,

Before the Shokalskiy beat the record by about 0.053 nautical minutes, the previous mark had been set in 2015 by a private Polish ketch yacht with a hull specially built to withstand ice.

Alas, in the week before ITN went to press, the new goal line set by The World was, itself, crossed on Feb. 26 by Spirit of Enderby, an expedition ship operated by (guess who!) Heritage Expeditions. The 50-passenger ship reached 78°44.008'S, a “whopping” 0.011 nautical minutes (just over 100 feet) south of The World 's most southerly reach.

Still, Spirit is another fully ice-strengthened vessel and plowed through sea ice to reach that point.

Who knows how long Spirit’s record will stand (and it still needs to be verified before it becomes official), but when it’s broken, it will again be by just a few feet. With the Antarctic land mass in the way (unlike in the Arctic, where the ice cap does not rest on land), there’s only so far south that any vessel will be able to sail.

I have some CORRECTIONS to note.

• In the Travel Brief “Sheep-walking in Wales” (Feb. ’17, pg. 5), about opportunities for visitors to each walk with a trained sheep (, ITN printed that the company Good Day Out  “arranges outdoor activities in the Brecon area, with all proceeds going to charity.”

Company founder Julia Blazer noted, about that item, “There is a slight discrepancy, as it is a portion of the proceeds that we give to charity. The donation is made after trainers and costs are paid, as part of our other remit is to create employment in this lovely rural area.”

(Who knew sheep-walking was a thing?!)

• You may want to amend the front wrap of your March 2017 issue, where the correct subhead under “Europe” should have been “Serbia, Macedonia & Kosovo.”

• On page 22 of the same issue, the photo did show the Ottoman Bridge in Prizren, Kosovo, but the image of Prizren Fortress, also mentioned in the caption, was, unfortunately, cropped off at the top.

• In his March “Far Horizons” column, Randy Keck meant to type “Baltic,” not “Balkan,” when he wrote (page 59), “The Balkan neighbors of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are typically packaged together on group tours…” (Tony Leisner of Tarpon Springs, Florida, caught that error.)

• In the Travel Brief “Toronto Tower EdgeWalk” (March ’17, pg. 69), the correct street address for the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, is “301 Front Street West.”

Some of those errors may not have any impact on people’s travel, but I wanted to set the record straight.

And about that, from me to you, do you appreciate our printing corrections about inconsequential errors or do you consider our informing you of them a waste of time and space? To our knowledge, these don’t happen often; the March issue happened to have a few. Please let me know (

Each month, we try to print in the back of the magazine — in the Mart section — an attractive, impressive or special-in-some-way photograph. Check your pictures from your last few trips. If you have something that may fit the bill, shoot it off to us with a caption. 

Tell us what we’re looking at, approximately where the picture was taken and around when it was taken (year or month and year) plus who took the picture. In addition, if you want, share something about what was going on or an experience or encounter you had. If you’re a subscriber, we may print your picture and its description in an upcoming issue.

In addition, while you’re looking through your pictures, see if anything might work as a mystery photo for our “Where in the World?” page, where we challenge readers to identify the location in a picture.

A subject pictured on that page does not have to be an obscure stumper. It can be a place frequently visited (giving more people a chance to submit answers). A notable panorama, a unique building or a memorable landmark — a shot of anything can work, so long as the picture is in focus and there are enough clues in the image for people to recognize the spot.

Again, include a description plus where and approximately when the picture was taken and who shot the picture. Email editor@intltravel or write to ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. Include your mailing address.

After being informed he’d won the drawing for the mystery-photo contest in our last issue, Phil Lutzi of St. Pete Beach, Florida, wrote, “Thank you for sponsoring the ‘Where in the World?’ contest. It’s fun to participate, and the answers are always entertaining and informative. 

“I’ve been a reader of ITN for a number of years and have enjoyed every issue. The articles and features are really where the tire hits the road and where the people who understand travel and want to be a part of the world go for their information.

“Thanks for publishing THE travel guide for serious travelers.”

At ITN, we do make an effort to include, in each article and letter, enough tour company, guide and hotel contact information so that readers can, if they want, follow in the footsteps of each writer.

And the writers in ITN are, largely, ITN subscribers — all of YOU. 

Inspire your fellow readers. Write a few words on a good experience from a recent trip. Or warn others about something you wish you could have avoided. Each of you has a story to tell.