Airline ticket name-check tip. Blue Flag beaches

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the September 2018 issue.

Aerial view of Playa de las Teresitas, a Blue Flag beach near Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. Photo: ©dziewul/123rf.com

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 511th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine. For those of you holding a sample copy, while it may be on newsprint and in black and white, there's nothing ordinary about it.

Each issue of ITN carries the escapades and discoveries of travelers of all types who have at least a few things in common: they love to travel, they subscribe to this magazine, and they have written in about something they think other travelers — their fellow subscribers — would like to know.

For example, after experiencing a problem recently, Fred Kranz of Potomac, Maryland, wrote in and described what happened so that others could avoid similar worry and extra expense.

As he explained, on Jan. 20, 2018, he purchased Turkish Airlines tickets for his wife, Judith, and himself for a July 30 flight from Istanbul, Turkey, to Almaty, Kazakhstan, with return to Istanbul from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Aug. 21. He received confirmation emails and receipts.

In May, Fred tried to use his booking number and name to sign in to Turkish Airlines' website to reserve seats on his flight. Being unable to do so, he pulled out his receipts and discovered that the first and last names on each reservation were reversed and that his first and middle names were strung together.

"KRANZ FREDERICKPHILIP" was the name shown on his reservation, and his wife's name was shown as "KRANZ JUDITH."

Fred called Turkish Airlines to have them correct the mistake, but he was informed that, due to security regulations, the airline was unable to change the names. He was told that he could cancel his tickets and get a complete refund, then repurchase the tickets with the correct names.

When Fred balked at the idea, stating that the new tickets would be sold at the current, probably higher, cost and not the original fare that he paid in January, the customer service representative directed him to a Turkish Air webpage where he could lodge a complaint. He did so, but, a week later, after receiving no response and having no success with another phone call, Fred purchased two new sets of tickets, which ended up costing him an additional $216 per person.

Airlines' name-change policies have varying degrees of flexibility and often include penalty charges. Turkish Airlines, however, is one airline that will not allow a name change under any circumstances. (If you want to know about the name-change policy of an airline, check the "Conditions of Carriage" on your receipt or on the airline's website, or ask a phone representative.)

Had Fred closely inspected his receipts at the time of booking and spotted the error, he could have taken advantage of a rule put in place by the US Department of Transportation in 2012 that requires airlines to give full refunds for tickets purchased in the US that are canceled within 24 hours of purchase.

ITN sent a copy of Fred's letter to Turkish Airlines for comment but received no response.

Fred, hopefully, others now have learned from your misfortune. Thank you for sharing all that.

This magazine reports items of general interest to travelers, as well. This next one seemed to fit the bill.

Each year, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) surveys beaches around the world, certifying as Blue Flag beaches those that meet its stringent requirements for cleanliness, sustainability and safety. Both fresh- and salt-water beaches are reviewed.

FEE began naming Blue Flag beaches in 1985 exclusively in France before branching out to the rest of Europe in 1987. It took until 2001 for a Blue Flag beach to be named outside of Europe (in that case, in South Africa). Now there are 3,742 Blue Flag-certified beaches in 44 countries.

The country with the most is Spain, with 569, followed by Greece (508), Turkey (459), France (403), Italy (368), etc.

In order for a beach to be awarded the Blue Flag designation, it must meet two sets of criteria. Most of the criteria are "imperative," meaning the beach must meet those standards to be called a Blue Flag beach, and it must maintain those standards to keep its status. Some criteria are "guidelines," not necessary but recommended.

Many of the imperative criteria are based on environmental and health concerns, such as "No industrial, wastewater or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area" and, simply, "The beach must be clean."

Still other imperatives are meant to make the beach accessible and the experience more pleasant, including "A map of the beach indicating different facilities [restrooms, lifeguard stations, access points for people with disabilities, etc.] must be displayed" and "An adequate number of toilet or restroom facilities must be provided" and "kept clean." Also, "Environmental-education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users."

In all, there are 33 criteria that FEE must rule favorably on before awarding a beach Blue Flag status, and, once that has been awarded, the beach is rescrutinized each year.

At each Blue Flag beach, the foundation's official flag must be flown, and "Information about the Blue Flag program… must be displayed."

To see an interactive map of beach locations, visit www.blueflag.global and click on "Blue Flag Sites." (If you don't see that link, expand your screen until the links appear.)

There are more than 40 Blue Flag beaches in the Caribbean, mostly on the eastern islands. In the Americas, there are 31 in Canada, 53 in Mexico and six in Brazil.

Although Puerto Rico and the USVI are listed, there are no Blue Flag beaches in any US state, not even in Hawaii.

CORRECTIONS to note —

• Ellen T. Henke of Mairehau, Christchurch, New Zealand, subscribed to ITN recently, then called to dispute a statement she read in an article in our website's archives.

In the article "Tipping Abroad" in the July 2017 "Mindful Traveler" column, Mark Gallo wrote, "In New Zealand and Australia, you're expected to leave 10% to 15% in restaurants, 5% to 10% for cab drivers and $1 per bag for porters."

Ellen said, "New Zealand is a NO-tipping society. The only people who ever get tips are drivers and guides."

ITN contacted Mark, who revised his NZ tipping guideline to the following: "In New Zealand and Australia, you're not expected to leave a tip. However, leaving up to 10% in restaurants and cafés for exceptional service is appreciated, as is rounding up the fare for cab drivers."


• Bob Havlen of Albuquerque, New Mexico, wrote, "In the caption to the photo of Yangykala Canyon in western Turkmenistan (July '18, pg. 59), the writer compares the landscape to 'the Arizona mesas Georgia O'Keeffe loved.'

"Problem is that Georgia O'Keeffe did most of her western paintings near Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, where you can visit and even take a Georgia O'Keeffe tour. Or you can visit the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. I'm sure she would have also loved the Arizona mesas if she had spent her summers there, but she didn't."

ADDENDUM — Diane Robbins of Penfield, New York, read Robert Ono's article about visiting South Georgia and the Falkland Islands (July '18, pg. 6) and referred to his closing paragraph: "For those thinking about a polar visit, an expedition cruise that includes shore landings should be considered if you are physically able to handle Zodiac travel."

Diane wanted to remind readers that, "Unlike most polar-expedition ships, which use rigid inflatable Zodiacs to transport passengers to shore in remote locations, the Antarctic-exploration ships of Hurtigruten (888/297-7630, www.hurtigruten.com) use Polarcirkel workboats, and that is exactly the reason my husband and I did our 2008 Antarctica trip with them (Nov. '16, pg. 49).

"A Polarcirkel is a small boat that has railings to hold onto when stepping into it, and passengers sit in seats, not on the sides of the boat like on a Zodiac. Anyone who can manage a few steps can manage a Polarcirkel."

Hurtigruten currently has three vessels taking travelers to Antarctica, all with Polarcirkels.

ITN's website is worth a visit (intltravelnews.com). For those of you who are tech-challenged like me, here's a quick lesson on viewing photos there.

Once you've brought up an article, you can click on any of the pictures to see a larger version of it. To reduce the size again and keep reading, you have at least three options: click on the "X" at the bottom right; click on the gray field surrounding the picture or hit the Escape (Esc) key on your keyboard.

We allow nonsubscribers to read, in full, one Feature Article from each issue, but only subscribers — once they're logged into the site — are provided a "printer friendly version" link to click on. Clicking on that and hitting "Print Page" and then "Print" produces a good-looking copy of the article, pictures and all.

But you also have a choice of printing the article without the photos. Before clicking on "Print Page," click on "Hide Images," then on "Print."

For those of you who are reading this magazine for the first time, turn to page 9 to see how to subscribe. There are several options (all good).

"Thanks to International Travel News, I have found tour operators for several of my trips and always get excellent tips and ideas." That's what Diane Laucks of Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania, wrote us.

Barbara Lister of Estes Park, Colorado, wrote, "Thank you for a wonderful magazine. We've found some wonderful boutique companies through ITN. We snorkel, bird, visit historic sights and try to experience migrations of animals and birds."

And Barbara McMahon of Williamsburg, Virginia, wrote, "I love your magazine and have subscribed for many years. I have given up my subscriptions to other travel magazines because ITN is the only one I trust to give me the straight story."

We print our subscribers' adventures. The stories of YOUR travels. The excitement on the page, we're just passing it along.

Keep your reports, articles and letters coming. We never know what we'll find out about next.