Letters: Warning over duty free thief at Melbourne Airport

Messy exits from Melbourne

My elderly mother flew to Melbourne from Ireland, using an airline's "meet and assist" service as she has done for many years. She emerged from customs in a wheelchair in the company of a pleasant airline female employee pushing the chair and a man bringing her luggage in a trolley.

The female employee advised that I had been bought a gift from the Melbourne duty-free store and I was shown the purchase. We both then bent down to assist my mother out of the wheelchair. On standing, my mother wished to thank the man for his help, but he had disappeared and, as we later found out, so had our duty-free goods.

Petty, opportunistic and heartless conduct towards an older person, you bet. Other passengers arriving in Melbourne, be warned.

- David Greenwood

Further to complaints from others on a slow exit from Melbourne International Airport (Traveller Letters, November 24-25), last month I returned from Paris to experience slow, long, frustrating and basically poor service. It took an hour through passport control (either electronic or normal), then another hour through luggage exit.

As an Australian returning home after a 23-hour trip, this was clearly the last thing I needed. Who knows what the international tourists made of it? Heathrow puts Melbourne to shame.

Surely there are managers who should cater for expected heavy workloads.

Not good enough.

- Michael Assimo

B&Bs pay price for high charges

Philip Howe advises readers of the many costs, including food, inflating his B&B overheads (Traveller Letters, November 17-18). While Howe's B&B, at $150 a night, may be cheap by Australian standards, my recent trip to England revealed that good, small three-star rural hotels charged £55-£80 ($84-$122) for an en suite room with excellent cooked breakfasts included. The savings on my month-long trip compared with a month of similar Australian accommodation paid the airfare.

Let's not kid ourselves, we charge like a wounded bull for accommodation in Australia - anything from $30 internet access to $35 buffet breakfasts, plus exorbitant room charges.

- Richard Ellis

It is easy to feel sympathetic about the cost pressures experienced by Philip Howe in running his B&B. However, sympathy is not going to help if B&Bs here remain expensive relative to other parts of the world and customers go elsewhere. His beef should be directed towards the bodies responsible for the unnecessary fees and other imposts he and his suppliers of everything from food to bedding pay in this over-administered state and country. And we, Howe's potential lodgers, should join him in his effort. It will benefit all of us, not just B&B owners.

- Bob Liddelow

Archaeologists dig up a treat

Many readers of Traveller will already have been familiar with the 7 St Georges Tavern near Paphos, which received a mention in the feature on Cyprus (Traveller, November 17-18). Several hundred students and volunteers have taken part in the University of Sydney's excavations at the site of the ancient theatre in Paphos since we began in 1995, and we invariably find an opportunity to enjoy the fine food at that taverna, usually as a celebration at the end of the season. Although your writer included his conversation with the proprietor, it was a pity his charming wife was not enticed out of the kitchen: she hails from Melbourne and is always willing to practise Australian idiom.

- Richard Green

ESTA guidance

My advice to Graham de Vahl Davis (Traveller Letters, November 24-25) would be to use a good travel agent and he would not fall into the trap of paying more than he should for his ESTA (electronic travel authorisation to the US). I am a travel agent and at the end of each of my emails, below the signature, I have a link to the official ESTA, so there is no risk clients will go to one of the sites charging the exorbitant prices Davis quotes. Savvy travellers are learning that arranging travel is not just about search and click, and are returning to the professional services of a travel agent.

- Miriam Rosenman

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