Boarding Pass

By David Tykol
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Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 359th issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine.

Scooter, the ITN Graphic Designer’s office assistant.

The world is keeping an eye on overseas outbreaks of bird flu. So far, fortunately, human cases are limited. To be better prepared to deal with any pandemic influenza that might occur, the White House in November released an outline of measures that could be taken to slow the spread of such a disease.

Basically, if there is “extensive transmission,” travel to and from affected areas would be prohibited.

Prior to that, “nonessential travel” would be postponed or canceled and there would be “active monitoring of all arriving passengers for fever and respiratory symptoms.” Travel health alert notices would be posted in airports, and videos or public announcements would be shown to passengers on airlines and cruise ships traveling to or arriving from countries for which health warnings have been issued.

During the early stages of a pandemic, if a passenger arriving from an affected area exhibits symptoms of illness, passengers and crew who have been exposed may be quarantined for a few days until diagnostic tests become available or for up to 10 days if the diagnosis confirms the passenger has a case of pandemic influenza.

State and local health departments and community partners have been instructed to plan for the provision of goods and services for persons in quarantine.

More at www.cdc.gov/travel. And see what Dr. Spira has to say about bird flu in this month’s “Travel & Health” column.

As of Dec. 22, 2005, airline passengers in the U.S. are allowed to take on board scissors with a cutting edge of four inches or less and small tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers smaller than seven inches. Nail clippers and tweezers are allowed, even knitting needles. In exchange, travelers will be subject to a greater number of and more extensive random searches.

The reasons given? By increasing the unpredictability of searches, terrorists will be uncertain of what procedures they will encounter. And in ignoring low-threat items, Transportation Security Officers will better focus on detecting more serious threats.

In addition to walking through a metal detector and having their baggage screened, passengers may, at random, be subject to pat-downs, hand-wandings, screenings of shoes for explosives and inspections of bags.

Straight-blade knives of any size continue to be banned, as do lighters, except those each packed in a Zippo Cargo Case by Otterbox (814/368-2700 or www.zippo.com — see Aug. ’05, pg. 123). More at www.tsa.org.

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently soliciting comments from the public on whether or not to install cameras in commercial airliners so that the cockpit crew can see what passengers are doing in the cabin. The purpose of monitoring is to detect suspicious behavior or potential threats. Currently, unless peepholes are installed, pilots have no way of knowing what’s going on behind the cockpit door.

Also under review — whether or not flight attendants should be given wireless devices with which to alert pilots of any emergency. Some argue that they could lead to false alarms.

The president of the Air Travelers Association, when asked about invasion-of-privacy issues regarding in-cabin cameras, said, “Any concerns about privacy are groundless because the cabin crew can see passengers all the time already.”

To weigh in, visit www.faa.gov.

If parliament approves it, the French government will add a new tax on every passenger boarding a flight in France and put the money toward fighting poverty in the world. Depending on the distance traveled and the type of ticket, the tax would range from €1 to €40 ($1.20-$48).

Chile has added a $2 surcharge for the same purpose, and Britain will assign a portion of existing taxes to help the poor.

ITN subscriber Janet Tremain of San Diego, California, after being assured by a travel agent that she would receive frequent-flyer miles on a flight from Los Angeles to New Delhi, booked that flight instead of a cheaper one on another airline. Upon returning home, she learned that the flight did not qualify because of the class of service she chose. The travel agency denies ever misinforming her, and it’s now her word against theirs.

Previously, ITN subscriber Marshall Stuart of Orinda, California, flew to Asia with his wife, and even though they each used a ‘promotional ticket,’ they applied for award miles anyway. Marshall told ITN, “I was not surprised to receive a card stating that my ticket didn’t qualify, but several months later my wife received a card stating that her ticket had been reconsidered and they were awarding her frequent-flyer miles. I decided to leave well enough alone.”

On another airline, Marshall later purchased a full-fare tourist-class ticket for a flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam. His application for miles was rejected, with no explanation. He assumed it was because he purchased the tickets over the Internet.

The point of these stories? Just be sure to read all of the fine print, yourself, and know what the rules are. Be aware that in some airlines’ mileage programs, transatlantic flights are excluded. On others, promotional fares and lesser-class tickets do not qualify. And even though an airline is an affiliate of the airline with which you have a mileage account, you need to check that the specific ticket you’re buying actually counts.

In the first case cited above, Janet called the airline and was told her problem was very common. The airline rep advised her to, next time, call the airline directly before paying, give the fare basis on the ticket and ask whether or not the ticket is eligible for frequent-flyer miles.

Janet also told ITN, “However, on an upcoming group tour on which the tour company is booking my flight, the tour company rep told me they were not permitted to tell me the fare basis of my airline ticket. Obviously, that ticket is not eligible for miles.”

Last month I was remiss in not pointing out a new column in ITN and introducing our new Contributing Editor, Steve Venables. He’s one of those knowledgeable, dependable travel agents that you can count on, and he has agreed to man a Q&A column, fielding any questions ITN readers may have — so long as they are of a general nature. (No asking “What’s the best hotel in Burkina Faso,” for instance.)

Welcome aboard, Steve.

Someone else deserves recognition, too. An ITN subscriber, Bill Altaffer of Mammoth Lakes, California, has become “the world’s most traveled person,” according to the qualifications of the website www.mosttraveledperson.com.

Recently, the 100 or so travelers who are ranked by the website (you may qualify) voted to increase the number of countable locations in the world by including the political states within Russia, China, Brazil and Mexico. This is to prompt people to actually visit and learn something about a country rather than just step foot in it and cross it off a list. The change also bumped the former most-traveled person, Charles Veley, who started the website, into second place. An article about Mr. Veley was printed in the July ’04 issue of ITN.

Bill, now age 62, has visited 560 of the 672 countries, territories, autonomous regions, enclaves, geographically separated island groups and major states and provinces of the world recognized by the website.

Bill has had a dozen and a half articles printed in ITN, the first in April 1994 and the latest (on Kamchatka’s Valley of the Geysers) in the February ’05 issue.

Congratulations on your promotion, Bill. Keep those articles coming.

In this, the January issue, we’re again printing — by popular consent — a list of foreign government tourist offices in the United States. A journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step.

Coffee, tea or milk? In November, a cat escaped from the cargo hold of a Czech Airlines plane. It could not be found and officials felt it was too dangerous to let passengers on board, so the plane was flown empty (except for the crew and Whiskers) from Frankfurt to Prague, where the cargo hold was dismantled and the cat extricated.

Judy Serie Nagu of San Jose, California, wrote ITN, “The cover of the October ’05 issue shows a penguin looking over the shoulder of a photographer in Antarctica. I believe this is the funniest photo I’ve ever seen. I would have loved to have seen the photographer’s face when he finished shooting and discovered this penguin standing almost on top of him.”

Carolyn Taylor of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, wrote, “I recently gave a workshop, ‘Traveling Solo — Cheaply and Safely,’ at a Delta Kappa Gamma conference, a meeting of women educators. I always tell people about ITN, and here is a list of folks who would like to see a copy of the magazine.”

They’ll be sent the next-printed issue, Carolyn. Thanks.

Diana Smith of Southington, Connecticut, wrote, My husband and I gave a talk at our local library about our 2_-year trip around the world. During the discussion period we promoted ITN, and those on the enclosed list would each like a free sample copy.”

Done, Diane.

Judy Puckett of Cartersville, Georgia, wrote, “ITN is my most treasured resource whenever I’m planning a trip. Please don’t give me glossy color pictures of the lobbies of elite hotels as other travel magazines do! The information I get in ITN is from other travelers just like me. It is accurate and dependable and just what I need to plan my own trips. Thank you!

Before you take your next trip, write in for a few ITN Report Cards so you can submit on-the-road finds and warnings. You also can send them in using our online form. Remember to include prices and the date of travel.

Safe travels!

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 359th issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine.

Scooter, the ITN Graphic Designer’s office assistant.

The world is keeping an eye on overseas outbreaks of bird flu. So far, fortunately, human cases are limited. To be better prepared to deal with any pandemic influenza that might occur, the White House in November released an outline of measures that could be taken to slow the spread of such a disease.

Basically, if there is “extensive transmission,” travel to and from affected areas would be prohibited.

Prior to that, “nonessential travel” would be postponed or canceled and there would be “active monitoring of all arriving passengers for fever and respiratory symptoms.” Travel health alert notices would be posted in airports, and videos or public announcements would be shown to passengers on airlines and cruise ships traveling to or arriving from countries for which health warnings have been issued.

During the early stages of a pandemic, if a passenger arriving from an affected area exhibits symptoms of illness, passengers and crew who have been exposed may be quarantined for a few days until diagnostic tests become available or for up to 10 days if the diagnosis confirms the passenger has a case of pandemic influenza.

State and local health departments and community partners have been instructed to plan for the provision of goods and services for persons in quarantine.

More at www.cdc.gov/travel. And see what Dr. Spira has to say about bird flu in this month’s “Travel & Health” column.

As of Dec. 22, 2005, airline passengers in the U.S. are allowed to take on board scissors with a cutting edge of four inches or less and small tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers smaller than seven inches. Nail clippers and tweezers are allowed, even knitting needles. In exchange, travelers will be subject to a greater number of and more extensive random searches.

The reasons given? By increasing the unpredictability of searches, terrorists will be uncertain of what procedures they will encounter. And in ignoring low-threat items, Transportation Security Officers will better focus on detecting more serious threats.

In addition to walking through a metal detector and having their baggage screened, passengers may, at random, be subject to pat-downs, hand-wandings, screenings of shoes for explosives and inspections of bags.

Straight-blade knives of any size continue to be banned, as do lighters, except those each packed in a Zippo Cargo Case by Otterbox (814/368-2700 or www.zippo.com — see Aug. ’05, pg. 123). More at www.tsa.org.

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently soliciting comments from the public on whether or not to install cameras in commercial airliners so that the cockpit crew can see what passengers are doing in the cabin. The purpose of monitoring is to detect suspicious behavior or potential threats. Currently, unless peepholes are installed, pilots have no way of knowing what’s going on behind the cockpit door.

Also under review — whether or not flight attendants should be given wireless devices with which to alert pilots of any emergency. Some argue that they could lead to false alarms.

The president of the Air Travelers Association, when asked about invasion-of-privacy issues regarding in-cabin cameras, said, “Any concerns about privacy are groundless because the cabin crew can see passengers all the time already.”

To weigh in, visit www.faa.gov.

If parliament approves it, the French government will add a new tax on every passenger boarding a flight in France and put the money toward fighting poverty in the world. Depending on the distance traveled and the type of ticket, the tax would range from €1 to €40 ($1.20-$48).

Chile has added a $2 surcharge for the same purpose, and Britain will assign a portion of existing taxes to help the poor.

ITN subscriber Janet Tremain of San Diego, California, after being assured by a travel agent that she would receive frequent-flyer miles on a flight from Los Angeles to New Delhi, booked that flight instead of a cheaper one on another airline. Upon returning home, she learned that the flight did not qualify because of the class of service she chose. The travel agency denies ever misinforming her, and it’s now her word against theirs.

Previously, ITN subscriber Marshall Stuart of Orinda, California, flew to Asia with his wife, and even though they each used a ‘promotional ticket,’ they applied for award miles anyway. Marshall told ITN, “I was not surprised to receive a card stating that my ticket didn’t qualify, but several months later my wife received a card stating that her ticket had been reconsidered and they were awarding her frequent-flyer miles. I decided to leave well enough alone.”

On another airline, Marshall later purchased a full-fare tourist-class ticket for a flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam. His application for miles was rejected, with no explanation. He assumed it was because he purchased the tickets over the Internet.

The point of these stories? Just be sure to read all of the fine print, yourself, and know what the rules are. Be aware that in some airlines’ mileage programs, transatlantic flights are excluded. On others, promotional fares and lesser-class tickets do not qualify. And even though an airline is an affiliate of the airline with which you have a mileage account, you need to check that the specific ticket you’re buying actually counts.

In the first case cited above, Janet called the airline and was told her problem was very common. The airline rep advised her to, next time, call the airline directly before paying, give the fare basis on the ticket and ask whether or not the ticket is eligible for frequent-flyer miles.

Janet also told ITN, “However, on an upcoming group tour on which the tour company is booking my flight, the tour company rep told me they were not permitted to tell me the fare basis of my airline ticket. Obviously, that ticket is not eligible for miles.”

Last month I was remiss in not pointing out a new column in ITN and introducing our new Contributing Editor, Steve Venables. He’s one of those knowledgeable, dependable travel agents that you can count on, and he has agreed to man a Q&A column, fielding any questions ITN readers may have — so long as they are of a general nature. (No asking “What’s the best hotel in Burkina Faso,” for instance.)

Welcome aboard, Steve.

Someone else deserves recognition, too. An ITN subscriber, Bill Altaffer of Mammoth Lakes, California, has become “the world’s most traveled person,” according to the qualifications of the website www.mosttraveledperson.com.

Recently, the 100 or so travelers who are ranked by the website (you may qualify) voted to increase the number of countable locations in the world by including the political states within Russia, China, Brazil and Mexico. This is to prompt people to actually visit and learn something about a country rather than just step foot in it and cross it off a list. The change also bumped the former most-traveled person, Charles Veley, who started the website, into second place. An article about Mr. Veley was printed in the July ’04 issue of ITN.

Bill, now age 62, has visited 560 of the 672 countries, territories, autonomous regions, enclaves, geographically separated island groups and major states and provinces of the world recognized by the website.

Bill has had a dozen and a half articles printed in ITN, the first in April 1994 and the latest (on Kamchatka’s Valley of the Geysers) in the February ’05 issue.

Congratulations on your promotion, Bill. Keep those articles coming.

In this, the January issue, we’re again printing — by popular consent — a list of foreign government tourist offices in the United States. A journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step.

Coffee, tea or milk? In November, a cat escaped from the cargo hold of a Czech Airlines plane. It could not be found and officials felt it was too dangerous to let passengers on board, so the plane was flown empty (except for the crew and Whiskers) from Frankfurt to Prague, where the cargo hold was dismantled and the cat extricated.

Judy Serie Nagu of San Jose, California, wrote ITN, “The cover of the October ’05 issue shows a penguin looking over the shoulder of a photographer in Antarctica. I believe this is the funniest photo I’ve ever seen. I would have loved to have seen the photographer’s face when he finished shooting and discovered this penguin standing almost on top of him.”

Carolyn Taylor of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, wrote, “I recently gave a workshop, ‘Traveling Solo — Cheaply and Safely,’ at a Delta Kappa Gamma conference, a meeting of women educators. I always tell people about ITN, and here is a list of folks who would like to see a copy of the magazine.”

They’ll be sent the next-printed issue, Carolyn. Thanks.

Diana Smith of Southington, Connecticut, wrote, My husband and I gave a talk at our local library about our 2_-year trip around the world. During the discussion period we promoted ITN, and those on the enclosed list would each like a free sample copy.”

Done, Diane.

Judy Puckett of Cartersville, Georgia, wrote, “ITN is my most treasured resource whenever I’m planning a trip. Please don’t give me glossy color pictures of the lobbies of elite hotels as other travel magazines do! The information I get in ITN is from other travelers just like me. It is accurate and dependable and just what I need to plan my own trips. Thank you!

Before you take your next trip, write in for a few ITN Report Cards so you can submit on-the-road finds and warnings. You also can send them in using our online form. Remember to include prices and the date of travel.

Safe travels!