Letters: are airlines trying to make us pay to sit together?

Trial separation

A friend and I recently travelled to Melbourne on a Qantas flight. At the booking counter, we stated that we were together. It didn't occur to us to check the seat allocation, it has always been enough to simply state that you are together. On boarding the plane, we discovered that we were sitting at opposite ends of the economy section, both of us had empty seats around us. On the return flight we used the electronic booking system, and we were allocated seats next to each other. Maybe there is something in the airlines trying to get passengers travelling together to pay for adjacent seating.

- Lois Mulley

Sri Lanka by bus

My wife and I are inveterate travellers. We always rent a car and drive thousands of kilometres in whichever country we visit. However, our research indicated we should forgo our usual independence for our recent visit to Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan driving culture would horrify most Australians. We found a small, Sydney-based travel outfit specialising in Sri Lankan tours. I found it great to be able to sit in an airconditioned 10-seater bus and have someone else organise everything for us in a stress-free manner. I'm sure not all tours go quite so well but our two-week tour with Nina's Pathways was a joy. We were such a happy busload of friendly Aussies who all became great friends after a couple of days.

If you're thinking about Sri Lanka, then I'd say go now while it's so incredibly inexpensive and before too many tourists take away the shine. And I'm glad I didn't attempt this long and interesting road trip in a rental vehicle.

- Brian Tonkin

Advanced Australian fares


Anyone considering visiting Thailand soon would do well to check Qantas prices on the Skyscanner website. My wife just booked a return fare direct from Sydney to Bangkok for $606. A Jetstar flight with a three-hour Melbourne stopover was more expensive one-way!

- Rob McCormack

Glutten-free advice

In response to Fehmin Shafi's letter (Traveller Letters, March 23-24) on travelling in Europe with nut allergies, our family had a wonderful six-week holiday in Europe in 2012. We have two food allergies: my son is at risk of anaphylaxis to peanuts and I am coeliac (allergic to gluten). We rented apartments so we could cook but we ended up eating out a lot. If you do not speak any European languages, do a Google search for free sites such as Allerglobal and BrokerFish, printable allergy cards that you can carry with you and show to restaurant staff. Allergy Translation and Select Wisely provide the same service but charge a fee. There is also an app you can download if you are taking an iPhone. It is called Nut Allergy and is 99¢ at the iTunes store.

We did not have any problems and had many memorable and delicious meals. We always made sure we approached wait staff immediately to apologise in advance for causing them extra trouble and to explain our requirements. If you are a member of Anaphylaxis Australia, it will be able to provide you with more information.

- Belinda Munro

Empty gesture

Regarding "The long return" (Traveller Letters, March 23-24), I had my wallet lifted from my bumbag while I was wrestling with stroppy Metro ticket machines on arrival at Roma Termini 10 years ago. Fortunately, passports, traveller's cheques and a British driving licence were elsewhere on our persons, so the only major loss was our cash float for that first weekend.

Having managed to obtain a replacement wallet from the same source a few weeks on, I was more than surprised when the original and what was left of its contents (all but the cash!) turned up 18 months later and in good order in an envelope from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, apparently courtesy of the Italian police, although there was no indication at all of the circumstances of its recovery, which would no doubt have been interesting - visions of some Fagin-type operation finally cracked.

- Derek Elwell

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