TIP OF THE WEEK
WHAT’S THE POINT
You may have noticed that Qantas rewards points are easier to get these days and all you have to do is look at credit card applications, health insurance and more. Why? Because they are less rewarding than before. It is now not possible to fly business class from Melbourne to Europe using points. Invariably, the longest stage will be in economy class and the routes are far from direct. The heavy promotion of loyalty points is a sham because the value is no longer there.
Alan Thomas, Hawthorn, VIC
LETTER OF THE WEEK
I just spent a few weeks in South Korea. If there is a roof there, you wear a mask and 95% do it on the street. How embarrassing, then, to see the recent performance of a group of three middle-aged egoists in delaying a flight to Sydney because they wanted to be excused. They succeeded, even after other passengers told them to put on a mask. I was lucky enough to sit behind them all the way to Singapore. Empty containers often make the most noise.
Philip Dowle, Willina, New South Wales
During a short trip to Melbourne, I realized after getting off a tram that I had left my backpack containing my iPad on a seat. I boarded the next tram going in the same direction and told the driver who radioed a description to the base. A call was sent to all drivers and five minutes later I was told the bag had been handed over by a passenger. The driver who had made the report told me to wait for this tram to come back in the opposite direction. He also gave me the route number and the number of the vehicle to watch. Everything went exactly as he said and within 10 minutes my backpack was returned to me. Many thanks to Melbourne tram drivers and honest passengers.
Stephanie Lee, Willoughby, New South Wales
In the May 21 edition of Letters to travelers, three of the letters contained justified criticism of Qantas and, in particular, the letter of the week about passengers’ luggage not being loaded onto a flight to London was horrendous. I am a proud former Qantas ground staff employee of nearly 30 years and reading about the customer service failures, many of them pre-COVID, in recent years saddens me greatly, as they come not only from the general public but from all parts of the travel industry, too. I sincerely hope that Qantas management will heed these criticisms and restore this beautiful airline to the true “spirit of Australia” it once belonged to.
Richard Davies, Hawthorn East, VIC
Some of your correspondents have recently complained about Qantas service. Here’s a positive story: several weeks ago we were at Perth airport waiting to fly back to Melbourne. The flight to the next gate was not boarding on time and we realized that a family of three on this flight was struggling with the behavior of their two boys. As frustrations grew, one of the children physically attacked one of Qantas’ ground staff, who remained calm and in control at all times. I was very impressed with the professionalism with which the ground staff handled this extremely distressing situation.
Jenny Abraham, South Vermont, VIC
I enjoyed Lee Tulloch’s column (Traveller, May 14). One tip is to take two or three padded envelopes, which allows you to mail items to yourself. We have never had a problem receiving Turkish cushion covers, pashmina, new (or old) clothes in Sydney. Buying padded envelopes is often too complicated abroad but using a post office is always another interesting cultural experience. Over the years of serious or fun travel, I’ve used color-coded clothing. It can get boring but it makes you appreciate coming home.
Diana Blom, Turramurra, New South Wales
Your columnist Lee Tulloch wrote (reluctantly) that there is no excuse for using checked baggage. I do not agree. People who take masses of carry-on bags into the cabin take up space away from others and are more likely to block aisles to store, access and unstore their luggage. Some of them actually expect the flight crew to lift their huge bags into the overhead bins for them. Hand baggage should be limited to items that you really need on the flight itself or that cannot be checked in.
Andrew Newman-Martin, Coombs, ACT
A TIME TO HEAL
I was both perplexed and taken aback by the letter from Glen op den Brou (Letters to travellers, May 21) accusing European travelers of ignoring the war in Ukraine when traveling in Europe. I can’t understand how not going to Europe would motivate Putin to cut short his “special operation”. He would most likely like us to boycott Europe. Glen’s position also fails to recognize the emotional toll inflicted by the COVID travel ban on many Europeans who have made Australia their home and need to heal in the company of their families in Europe. I lost my father to COVID at the start of the pandemic and recently returned to Holland for the first time in two and a half years; both to honor my late father and to help celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. While I am sickened to my core by the shameful war being waged against a sovereign nation by a despot on the verge of extinction, I fail to see how I dishonor the Ukrainian people by traveling – like thousands of my compatriots. having roots in the old world – in my old homeland
Hans van den Tillaart, Mount Colah, NSW
PLACE OF BIRTH
Your one and only guide to Corfu in Greece” (Traveller, May 21) missed a fascinating historic building. Visit Mon Repos, the birthplace of the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a short walk from Corfu Town in a scenic clifftop location.
Mary Hoffmann, VIC of Richmond
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks for the tip but you will find a full report by Traveler on this fascinating aspect of Corfu, published before the pandemic, here.
GIVE THEM A BREAK
On hotels that welcome dogs and other animals (Traveller, May 7), after visiting Canada several years ago, I couldn’t understand why guests going on vacation had to bring their dogs with them. Petotels were surely created to allow pooches to take a break from their owners.
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, New South Wales
Whenever I traveled, I used to grab a few pillowcases to provide another layer of comfort, and sometimes, peace of mind, with accommodation pillows. Once shorthanded, I realized my spare t-shirt was a great alternative. Forget the P-slip and take another T-shirt.
Geoff Geraghty, Crows Nest, New South Wales
EDITOR’S NOTE We’d love to hear from readers what other items they like to take with them when they travel to add another element of comfort.
Regarding Greg Cornwell’s “Oh Canada” letter (Letters to travellers, May 21), I too have just returned from overseas and had to do PCR tests before the flight and upon arrival. However, all results are obtained and stored in a digital format, so I don’t understand why Greg and his wife had to spit into a vial every day. Surely they had results on their phone? Or on a computer? And regarding the Australian Digital Passenger Declaration, which has been around for months, our airline messaged me about a week before we got home reminding us to complete it online or through the app. We hear about these obstacles, and while it’s an inconvenience, it’s wonderful to be able to travel again.
Debbie Wiener, East St Kilda, Vic
I recently returned from a long-awaited holiday at a remote lodge in Western Australia, accessible only by air or sea (I went via Melbourne, Darwin and Kununurra). Unfortunately, long before the holidays, I tested positive for COVID. It was necessary to be airlifted from the lodge on a COVID secure flight to Kununurra, at an initial cost of $4810. No insurance (private, credit card, Medicare) covered COVID-related expenses. With COVID so prevalent in Australia, are such remote experiences really worth the risk?
Crossing of Hugh Corr Hoppers, Vic
In reference to Michael Atkin’s “Open the gate” letter (Tipometer, May 29) and his difficulty in obtaining a refund of gotogate.com, we used the credit card division of our bank and went through the process of getting the funds back that way. Our argument was that we did not receive the service we paid for. Gotogate made this point, but the bank refunded us the money. Good luck, fellow traveler.
Kerry Vincz, Haberfield, New South Wales
Many thanks for the help, ideas, advice and inspiration you have provided on this page (Lonely Planet, the subject of your weekly prize, is my “bible” for my travels and it has never lack). Here are some of my favorite travel tips: always book central accommodation, so you can easily return day or night; learn the basic words in the language of the country you are visiting (it is respectful and courteous); familiarize yourself with the do’s and don’ts of culture; Always carry the address and telephone number of the hotel where you are staying.
Annabel Fegan, Mornington, VIC
I learned from friends who learned the hard way, only book online with accredited agents in Australia. I always check atas.com.au to make sure they are. You are then covered by Australian law to receive credits or refunds.
Michele Sharp, Queens Park, New South Wales
WIN A SET OF TRAVEL BOOKS
Letter of the Week author wins Hardie Grant travel books worth over $100. For June, this includes Ultimate Cycling Trips: Australia by Andrew Bain; On the Himalayan Trail by Romy Gill; and Rewilding Kids Australia by Melissa Mylchreest.
The author of the tip of the week wins a set of three excellent Lonely Planet travel books, including Ultimate Australia Travel List, The Travel Book and Armchair Explorer.
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