Considering "minimum connection times" between flights. Also, two websites helpful to cruise lovers.

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the April 2013 issue.
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Statue of winged Virgin Mary of Quito, El Panecillo Hill, Quito, Ecuador. Photo: ©Keith Levit/123RF

Dear Globetrotter:

In a couple of recent issues, I wrote about some things to keep in mind when purchasing airline tickets for a multileg flight. Former ITN Contributing Editor Steve Venables of Woodland Travel (Woodland, CA; 530/662-5491) submitted the following advice: “Make certain to allow plenty of connection time between flights, and, if possible, find out the ‘on-time record’ of the first flight on your trip.

“A flight that is ‘on time’ is defined as one that operates within 15 minutes of its schedule. A flight that operates on time 50% to 59% of the time would be a risky one to use when expecting to make a connection. Most travel agencies have an abbreviated form of this information readily available, and more details can be obtained at particular websites.”

A good website to visit for this information would be www.flightstats.com. Click on “Flights” and “On-time Performance Rating,” then type in the departure and arrival cities and up will come a chart showing each of the airlines that flies that route (ex., Air France), the flight number (AF 23) and the “On-time percentage” (in this example, the flight is on time “90%” of the time). The airlines are rated according to performance, with those ranking highest listed at the top.

This website is easy to use and provides a wealth of information on almost every airline in the world as well as on nearly every airport, showing general rankings, the number of flights and even real-time flight-delay information. Check it out.

Reports on the on-time records of major airlines and US airports are also issued by the US Department of Transportation. Visit www.dot.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-consumer-reports. Its Air Travel Consumer Reports are quite detailed, but if you look at the historical data for the month in which you’re planning to travel, it could be useful in sorting out which airports or airlines are most likely to have delays.

Another website at which to find current information on flight delays at particular airports or various regions in the US is www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp. It is managed by the Federal Aviation Administration, which draws data from the Air Traffic Control system.

I should say something about “minimum connection times,” which are referred to by many airlines, travel agents and online booking sites. The “minimum connection time” is the estimated amount of time the average traveler would need to get off of one flight and onto another, accounting for any necessary terminal changes and security checks.

The times are calculated based on the physical distances between airport terminals, the number of flights there per day, passenger loads, etc. The times don’t really change much from year to year and are recalculated only when terminals are reconfigured or new terminals are opened.

The company that the airline industry depends on to calculate minimum connection times is OAG, which publishes all kinds of airline and airport information monthly, including the OAG Flight Guide. The information is copyrighted, so, to gain access, you have to either purchase a subscription from OAG (about $500 a year) or buy an older, used guide (there are some on eBay for $15-$30).

A few airlines, such as Air Canada, do freely share their estimated minimum connection times in airports that they use.

But here’s the thing. The actual minimum connection time you’ll need for YOUR flight may be much longer than the posted one due to several factors: the on-time history of the airline you’re using; whether you have to check or recheck baggage or not, and how long the security lines are at the airport when you arrive, not to mention any mobility problems you may have or stops you intend to make for food, etc., on your way through the terminals.

Rather than face the hassles of missing a flight over any minor delay, some of us find it worthwhile to consider going with a longer connection time — booking a later departure — just for the peace of mind.

From busy airports to busy cruise ports…

Here’s an online tool that can show you how busy or crowded different cruise ports are expected to be on particular dates, which could be helpful in determining how crowded the museums and attractions might be there or how difficult it could be to hail a taxi at the dock.

The Port Crowd Calculator, provided by the travel agency CruiseWise, calculates port traffic out to two years in advance. Visit Cruisewise.com's “Port Crowd Calculator”.

You’ll see a map with a number of colored “pins” indicating ports that will have ships calling on a certain date. The pins are color coded as “uncrowded,” “normal,” “busy” and “very busy.” Use the sliding bar to move through the calendar.

If you click on a pin, it opens a small box that lists what ships are expected and how many passengers each could be carrying.

Here’s another helpful website for cruise lovers.

It can be a chore finding out what amenities and services are included in the “all-inclusive” fares charged by various cruise lines. AllThingsCruise.com has created a chart that allows passengers to compare at a glance a number of these for 33 major cruise lines operating oceangoing ships or river vessels.

Among the 13 column headings are Pre- or post-hotel; Airport transfers; Wine anytime; Shore excursions; Gratuities; 24-hour cabin service, and Butler service. Regarding certain cruise lines, additional details are included beneath the chart.

The chart, which is updated occasionally, can be found at http://allthingscruise.com/all-inclusive.

Jean and Helga Imer of Falls Church, Virginia, traveled in Germany in July ’12 and have a simple caution for travelers who find themselves at the train station in Pasing, a suburb of Munich: at the station, in order to use the men’s room you must go through a turnstile at the restroom door, and that requires coins. Carry coins or you may find yourself in a fix.

Helga noted, “Most public toilets in Germany have bathroom attendants who ask for half a euro, or about 50 cents.”

Douglas K. Wallace of Corona del Mar, California, was among those who pointed out an error in the travel brief titled “Quito’s New Airport” (March ’13, pg. 25), writing, “The last time I visited Quito, it was in Ecuador, not Peru. First glitch I’ve noted in ITN since getting my subscription over 15 years ago.”

Well, errors do appear in ITN, and I would ask everyone to, please, point out any that you see. Do not assume that other subscribers are doing that. When a mistake is made, we want to set the record straight — in the printed magazine and on our website — and we would appreciate your help.

Gladys Sheldon of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, wrote, “My commendations to Julie Skurdenis for her ‘Focus on Archaeology’ column. I credit her articles for my growing interest in travel that has an archaeological theme or component.

“On a trip to Germany with Road Scholar in October 2012, I had a free Sunday afternoon and — based on Ms. Skurdenis’ article “Berlin’s Ethnological Museum ‘Discovered’,” in the July 2012 issue — made a trip on my own to see that museum in Dahlem, southwest of central Berlin.

“This was truly a gem of a museum. I followed Ms. Skurdenis’ recommendations on special things to see. I did see the Gold Cabinet, which during her visit was temporarily closed.

“This museum would be an absolute gem at any time of the year, but on a Sunday afternoon in the fall, walking through piles of leaves in the sunshine to get there after leaving the U-Bahn stop, I found it truly memorable.”

Muriel Trulson of The Villages, Florida, sent in the address of a couple to receive a free sample copy of ITN and wrote, “We met this couple on a trip to Warsaw, Budapest, Vienna and Prague. We got loads of tips and suggestions from letters and articles in ITN for this trip and shared them with our new friends.”

Amy Romano of Syosset, New York, wrote, a few months back, “I had the most interesting conversation with a couple who travels the world and has what I call a ‘travel dreams list’ much like my own. Of course, I spoke so highly of ITN that they asked me to have a copy sent to them. I am enclosing their address and cannot wait to hear what they think of this unique and informative person-to-person magazine.”

Julie R. Beck of Mount Olive, North Carolina, wrote, “Margaret Wells (Goldsboro, NC) shared a copy of her International Travel News magazine and suggested that I send in an email requesting a free sample copy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I have been to all 50 states, 77 countries and all seven continents, so this magazine spoke to my heart and soul. I look forward to reading another issue.”

Thank you, all of you who are spreading the word about ITN. If it’s any help, we will send you, on request, a number of business-card-size cards to pass out that say, “For a free sample copy of ITN, call 800/486-4968 or send your name and address to ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or visit www.intltravelnews.com. You will be sent a complimentary copy of the next-printed issue, with no obligation to subscribe.”

You might also tell them that ITN does not sell anyone’s name and address to any other firm. We respect your privacy.— DT

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.
Statue of winged Virgin Mary of Quito, El Panecillo Hill, Quito, Ecuador. Photo: ©Keith Levit/123RF

Dear Globetrotter:

In a couple of recent issues, I wrote about some things to keep in mind when purchasing airline tickets for a multileg flight. Former ITN Contributing Editor Steve Venables of Woodland Travel (Woodland, CA; 530/662-5491) submitted the following advice: “Make certain to allow plenty of connection time between flights, and, if possible, find out the ‘on-time record’ of the first flight on your trip.

“A flight that is ‘on time’ is defined as one that operates within 15 minutes of its schedule. A flight that operates on time 50% to 59% of the time would be a risky one to use when expecting to make a connection. Most travel agencies have an abbreviated form of this information readily available, and more details can be obtained at particular websites.”

A good website to visit for this information would be www.flightstats.com. Click on “Flights” and “On-time Performance Rating,” then type in the departure and arrival cities and up will come a chart showing each of the airlines that flies that route (ex., Air France), the flight number (AF 23) and the “On-time percentage” (in this example, the flight is on time “90%” of the time). The airlines are rated according to performance, with those ranking highest listed at the top.

This website is easy to use and provides a wealth of information on almost every airline in the world as well as on nearly every airport, showing general rankings, the number of flights and even real-time flight-delay information. Check it out.

Reports on the on-time records of major airlines and US airports are also issued by the US Department of Transportation. Visit www.dot.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-consumer-reports. Its Air Travel Consumer Reports are quite detailed, but if you look at the historical data for the month in which you’re planning to travel, it could be useful in sorting out which airports or airlines are most likely to have delays.

Another website at which to find current information on flight delays at particular airports or various regions in the US is www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp. It is managed by the Federal Aviation Administration, which draws data from the Air Traffic Control system.

I should say something about “minimum connection times,” which are referred to by many airlines, travel agents and online booking sites. The “minimum connection time” is the estimated amount of time the average traveler would need to get off of one flight and onto another, accounting for any necessary terminal changes and security checks.

The times are calculated based on the physical distances between airport terminals, the number of flights there per day, passenger loads, etc. The times don’t really change much from year to year and are recalculated only when terminals are reconfigured or new terminals are opened.

The company that the airline industry depends on to calculate minimum connection times is OAG, which publishes all kinds of airline and airport information monthly, including the OAG Flight Guide. The information is copyrighted, so, to gain access, you have to either purchase a subscription from OAG (about $500 a year) or buy an older, used guide (there are some on eBay for $15-$30).

A few airlines, such as Air Canada, do freely share their estimated minimum connection times in airports that they use.

But here’s the thing. The actual minimum connection time you’ll need for YOUR flight may be much longer than the posted one due to several factors: the on-time history of the airline you’re using; whether you have to check or recheck baggage or not, and how long the security lines are at the airport when you arrive, not to mention any mobility problems you may have or stops you intend to make for food, etc., on your way through the terminals.

Rather than face the hassles of missing a flight over any minor delay, some of us find it worthwhile to consider going with a longer connection time — booking a later departure — just for the peace of mind.

From busy airports to busy cruise ports…

Here’s an online tool that can show you how busy or crowded different cruise ports are expected to be on particular dates, which could be helpful in determining how crowded the museums and attractions might be there or how difficult it could be to hail a taxi at the dock.

The Port Crowd Calculator, provided by the travel agency CruiseWise, calculates port traffic out to two years in advance. Visit Cruisewise.com's “Port Crowd Calculator”.

You’ll see a map with a number of colored “pins” indicating ports that will have ships calling on a certain date. The pins are color coded as “uncrowded,” “normal,” “busy” and “very busy.” Use the sliding bar to move through the calendar.

If you click on a pin, it opens a small box that lists what ships are expected and how many passengers each could be carrying.

Here’s another helpful website for cruise lovers.

It can be a chore finding out what amenities and services are included in the “all-inclusive” fares charged by various cruise lines. AllThingsCruise.com has created a chart that allows passengers to compare at a glance a number of these for 33 major cruise lines operating oceangoing ships or river vessels.

Among the 13 column headings are Pre- or post-hotel; Airport transfers; Wine anytime; Shore excursions; Gratuities; 24-hour cabin service, and Butler service. Regarding certain cruise lines, additional details are included beneath the chart.

The chart, which is updated occasionally, can be found at http://allthingscruise.com/all-inclusive.

Jean and Helga Imer of Falls Church, Virginia, traveled in Germany in July ’12 and have a simple caution for travelers who find themselves at the train station in Pasing, a suburb of Munich: at the station, in order to use the men’s room you must go through a turnstile at the restroom door, and that requires coins. Carry coins or you may find yourself in a fix.

Helga noted, “Most public toilets in Germany have bathroom attendants who ask for half a euro, or about 50 cents.”

Douglas K. Wallace of Corona del Mar, California, was among those who pointed out an error in the travel brief titled “Quito’s New Airport” (March ’13, pg. 25), writing, “The last time I visited Quito, it was in Ecuador, not Peru. First glitch I’ve noted in ITN since getting my subscription over 15 years ago.”

Well, errors do appear in ITN, and I would ask everyone to, please, point out any that you see. Do not assume that other subscribers are doing that. When a mistake is made, we want to set the record straight — in the printed magazine and on our website — and we would appreciate your help.

Gladys Sheldon of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, wrote, “My commendations to Julie Skurdenis for her ‘Focus on Archaeology’ column. I credit her articles for my growing interest in travel that has an archaeological theme or component.

“On a trip to Germany with Road Scholar in October 2012, I had a free Sunday afternoon and — based on Ms. Skurdenis’ article “Berlin’s Ethnological Museum ‘Discovered’,” in the July 2012 issue — made a trip on my own to see that museum in Dahlem, southwest of central Berlin.

“This was truly a gem of a museum. I followed Ms. Skurdenis’ recommendations on special things to see. I did see the Gold Cabinet, which during her visit was temporarily closed.

“This museum would be an absolute gem at any time of the year, but on a Sunday afternoon in the fall, walking through piles of leaves in the sunshine to get there after leaving the U-Bahn stop, I found it truly memorable.”

Muriel Trulson of The Villages, Florida, sent in the address of a couple to receive a free sample copy of ITN and wrote, “We met this couple on a trip to Warsaw, Budapest, Vienna and Prague. We got loads of tips and suggestions from letters and articles in ITN for this trip and shared them with our new friends.”

Amy Romano of Syosset, New York, wrote, a few months back, “I had the most interesting conversation with a couple who travels the world and has what I call a ‘travel dreams list’ much like my own. Of course, I spoke so highly of ITN that they asked me to have a copy sent to them. I am enclosing their address and cannot wait to hear what they think of this unique and informative person-to-person magazine.”

Julie R. Beck of Mount Olive, North Carolina, wrote, “Margaret Wells (Goldsboro, NC) shared a copy of her International Travel News magazine and suggested that I send in an email requesting a free sample copy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I have been to all 50 states, 77 countries and all seven continents, so this magazine spoke to my heart and soul. I look forward to reading another issue.”

Thank you, all of you who are spreading the word about ITN. If it’s any help, we will send you, on request, a number of business-card-size cards to pass out that say, “For a free sample copy of ITN, call 800/486-4968 or send your name and address to ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or visit www.intltravelnews.com. You will be sent a complimentary copy of the next-printed issue, with no obligation to subscribe.”

You might also tell them that ITN does not sell anyone’s name and address to any other firm. We respect your privacy.— DT