Letters: Flying first class? We can dream

First-class thinking

Mirna Cicioni's response (Traveller Letters, March 16-17) to "The art of first class" (Traveller, March 9-10) missed the point of the article, which is to allow parents like me who have only travelled economy the chance to dream, wonder and wish for a better travel experience. Without first class, there would be no inspiration for designers, architects and engineers. It's no different to magazines about luxurious homes, or super yachts, or Aston Martins. What would you have, everyone drive around in a Daewoo? I would hope such an article would inspire children such as my 12-year-old son, who is mad about planes, to maybe get a better education than his old man, work smarter, and one day do what I couldn't.

- Michael Schokman

Agents of influence

We have been to many countries over the decades with many different tour operators, on tours and self-guided, but nothing has been quite so different, exciting and well planned as our recent 35-day trip to South America. It was all put together for us by Graham Strachan and Bree at South America Destinations after countless very patient phone conversations and emails.

Although on our own, all the flights, transfers, guides and drivers, buses and trains, and very comfortable hotels happened seamlessly. The hotels were either in perfect locations to allow us to walk everywhere in the big cities or unique and picturesque in the country, chosen individually for the purpose and our capabilities, and there was always someone there to meet or guide us as per our itinerary. Graham even included two free specialty restaurants as a surprise, and rang us twice just to see how we were going. He knew what was needed for safety, altitude, everything to make it work. We covered so many unique and amazing cities, landscapes, cultures, fauna and food. In 40 years of travel I have never experienced such excellence.

- Fran Orr

Land of rising runs

In response to Ann Beharell (Traveller Letters, March 9-10), on skiing with young kids in Japan, we had a very successful ski trip in late January with our children, aged seven and three. We chose Niseko for its Australian-run ski school, Niseko Base Snowsports, whose instructors all spoke English. We booked through Travelplan and chose an apartment in upper Hirafu, within 300 metres of the ski school, numerous restaurants and a small supermarket. A great experience: skiing for all levels, great Japanese service, delicious and reasonable food and minimal time difference (two hours). We'll be back!

- Helen Eldershaw

Nutting it out

My family and I are travelling to Europe (London, Paris, Madrid and Rome) during the June/July school holidays. My younger son is allergic to all nuts. Would appreciate tips/advice about food labelling, nut allergy awareness and eating out in Europe.

- Fehmin Shafi

Together again, naturally

Tatiana Podmore (Traveller, March 9-10), the airline that wanted to seat us apart was Virgin Atlantic. We arrived at Heathrow having broken our premium economy "round world ticket" with an economy leg to New York. Firstly, the self-booking unit would not accept our entry. We were quickly joined by a smiling saleswoman who very helpfully offered us a discounted upgrade to premium economy. When we declined, she offered us the best economy seats - for a modest surcharge. Again we said no, and then she suggested we might like to sit together, as she showed us how far apart we were in the cabin. After much discussion we joined her at the main check-in and parted with our pounds to enable us to have our economy "lunch" together.

- Tony Martin

The long return

A good news story concerning a lost bag. While travelling with a small group in Ethiopia last September, my friend placed his bag in the hotel lobby, ready for the bus pick-up while we had breakfast. When the time came to leave, his bag was not there. A search around the hotel and phone calls to other tour groups failed to locate it. The good news: my friend's bag appeared at Ethiopian Airlines' baggage department after five months. They emailed him and within two days had sent it to his home in Florida. Do other travellers have a similar good news story?

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