Paris overwhelmed by A380
I agree with Mike Wood about the ability of certain airports to cater for the volume of passengers an A380 can carry (A380s still come with baggage, Traveller Letters, November 10-11).
When my wife and I arrived on an A380 flight at France's Charles de Gaulle Airport, the baggage-retrieval system was in chaos. The carousel could not cope with the volume of luggage. Passengers tried in vain to retrieve bags. In the midst of the mayhem, a baggage handler wheeled in a trolley of about two metres in length and left it there, further affecting the available space.
The check-in experience, again for an A380 flight, wasn't better. The queue wound behind the check-in area and it took more than an hour to get to check-in. And then there was immigration ...
- Lance Munro
Mike Wood's experience with baggage-collection problems should be heeded by airport administrations. Much money has been spent expanding retail outlets for departing passengers but little to improve arrivals.
- Greg Cornwell
Melbourne's slow lane
Last month, my plane landed in Melbourne about 9am and I breezed through immigration, grabbed some duty-free goods and waited for my luggage to arrive. It took 40 minutes for luggage to appear on the carousel. At 9.50 am, I joined a line that was at least 200 metres long. A similar line was on the other side of the arrivals hall. At the end of each line were two customs officers. I walked from the terminal with my luggage at 11.40am. A poor effort by Melbourne Airport, given every morning a number of planes land about the same time.
- Ross Sullivan
Kind words for first-class crews
A smooth landing deserves praise, but maybe not a clap in these days of bulletproof, soundproof doors to the flight deck (A big hand for happy landings, Traveller Letters, November 10-11 and November 17-18). I do, however, always thank the flight crew, especially if one of them has appeared before I disembark the aircraft.
- Nicola M.J. Stainlay
ESTA site cuts costs
Travellers to the US need a travel authorisation, an ESTA, which can be obtained online. But be careful which website you use. The cost of the authorisation is $14. But I didn't know that - until now. I used Google to search for ESTA and found myself connected to a site in Britain, which charged me £45 ($69). My daughter found a site in France that charged her €65 ($80). My smart grandson used a US-based .gov site and paid $14. Sure, each authorisation we have is valid, but two of them are gold-plated. The site to use is cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/esta.
- Graham de Vahl Davis
Eateries are only the entree
The article about Chiang Mai's Ping River area in Thailand (Treats at the temple door, Traveller, November 10-11) was welcome because the area is a favourite haunt. However, mention is made only of eateries in laneways off the main road (Charoenraj Road), and it would be a pity to miss the gorgeous spots on the river.
There is Regina's, where you sit in a magical garden full of old wooden statues and eat fresh, delicious Thai food for next to nothing and sip Singha beer. A few doors away is The Gallery, where you listen to a traditional Thai orchestra and watch the boats go by. There is also the Pink Teahouse, where you can choose one of many lovely teas to drink or take away in a bag.
Strolling the riverside and choosing a place to eat or browse is one of the joys of visiting Chiang Mai.
- Sally Pope
We're heading to Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara in mid-March and would appreciate travellers' tips on which ryokans and family-stay styles of accommodation to book. We're looking forward to immersing ourselves in steaming public baths and having Zen moments.
- Maggy Todd
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