Letters: Stuck next to an overweight, overflowing passenger

Size matters on a flight

On a recent four-hour-plus domestic flight in the US, I had the misfortune of sitting beside a very fat person. The flight from Chicago to San Francisco was full and this enormous man approached the vacant seat next to me and lowered himself into the inadequate space. His bulk settled on top of the space, which was too narrow to fully accommodate him.

I leaned to the opposite side but was unable to avoid the creep of the space invader. His body was overflowing into more than 10 per cent of my seat space. As there were no vacant seats, I could not move. Why did the airline allow this man, who was clearly too big for an economy seat, to board the plane?

The man tried to avoid inconveniencing me by leaning into the corridor but this just caused him to be in the way of passengers and crew.

There needs to be a system of moving people to a bigger seat in business class, or they must buy two tickets. A gate that is the width of an airline seat may be a simple method of determining a person's ability to sit without taking over the space of adjacent passengers. If you can't walk through the gate, you can't buy an economy-class seat.

- David Seal

Surprise refund

We read many complaints about travelling with low-cost airlines. Our Paris-Milan flight was cancelled by our carrier, EasyJet, because of a transport strike in Italy. This was not EasyJet's fault. The airline apologised by email and we received a full refund. This was totally unexpected.

- Annette Keatinge

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Tips figured out

Regarding the question of tipping (Traveller, October 8 and 15), on a recent HAL cruise, a $US11 ($10.80) a person, a day gratuity was automatically added to the on-board account. For a 20-day cruise, that $440 fee, from one cabin, seemed excessive, given that extra services on board (drinks/gifts, in my case) also attracted a standard 15 per cent surcharge.

On polite enquiry with the front office, I was advised that a waiver could be arranged.

Envelopes were provided so we could make our own decisions about who would be tipped and by how much. Passing on thanks and tips directly to staff seemed to be a satisfying benefit to all involved.

- John McGilvray

Online payment punch

A recent online dalliance with Jetstar got off to a promising start. Looking to book two adults and two kids on a Sydney-Avalon return flight, it was pleasing to see they had fixed the issue of baggage selection. Previously, it was one-in, all-in for checked baggage. Now, you can deselect baggage from passengers. Second, it looked like we would need to buy the $17 a person "optional value bundle" to ensure we all sat together. A 15-minute call to the helpline (14 minutes waiting, 60 seconds talking) allayed that fear - families automatically get seated together.

Inevitably, it couldn't all go the customer's way, however. Working our way to the final page of the booking (payment), when you're about to hit the process payment key, a line appears stating you'll be charged $60 for the privilege of paying by credit card.

An extra 8 per cent on top of the fares.

I appreciate that customers have the direct-debit option online but it really is taking the mickey when the majority pay this way for all online purchases (and no, I don't want to sign up for a Jetstar credit card).

- Daniel Happell

Virgin's Mac attack

To avoid paying excessive credit-card fees when booking a Virgin Australia flight online, I was left with the only alternative of internet banking through a payments system called POLi, only to find it cannot be used on a Mac as it is only supported through Windows. I thought Virgin Australia was a progressive company. I ended up booking with Qantas.

- Stanley Yeo

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