Letters: Why is it so hard for airlines to seat people together?

Separation anxiety

Over the past few months, I have shared with many friends and acquaintances my poor experiences of travelling with a particular international airline, only to discover that they had as many stories as I did. My husband and I are in the lucky situation of being retiree baby boomers, a cohort I believe must be a huge percentage of the travelling customers of airlines. The most commonly repeated complaint I have heard is of being seated separately to partner or family, even though seats were prebooked. I have heard stories about this with a number of international flights, including one where a couple were seated apart from their five-year-old child and from each other. Given regulations about unaccompanied minors, I am amazed at this. What is going on? Why is it so hard to seat people together? Are airlines just operating for their own convenience? Can someone explain why it is so hard to allocate seats to suit the paying customers?

- Tatiana Podmore

Tarkine truths

I fought to protect both Lake Pedder and the Franklin River, but I take issue with Lee Atkinson's opening sentence: "Deep in the Tarkine, one of the largest untouched temperate rainforests," (Traveller, March 2-3). I grew up in Romaine on the Ridgley "Highway" in the 1960s. My father was an accountant at the paper mill in Burnie and at weekends would take me out to the Mill Forest and show me the next section of forest to be logged for the pulp mill. I have studied the maps of the Tarkine and even inquired of Forestry Tasmania and they have confirmed what I believe, that parts of the Tarkine are not "untouched forest" but, indeed, regrowth of forest logged for pulp mills of APPM. I believe federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has gazetted the western-coast wilderness of the Tarkine as heritage-listed (my sister insists she saw a Tasmanian tiger here near the banks of the Pieman River in the 1960s) and I believe there is untouched rainforest here but, unless someone can convince me otherwise, the playground of my childhood is not "untouched temperate rainforest".

- Chris Vandine

Sign language

Why is it that at Sydney Airport, all the signs are only in English? I cannot think of another airport in the world where such arrogance and disregard of the needs of foreign incoming passengers is apparent. Somebody must have decided that this was good policy. It must have been a very strange process to have reached a conclusion that the needs of non-English speakers can be so brazenly disregarded. Perhaps Sydney Airport could tell us what it is.

- Christopher Roper

Unburden yourself

Well said, David Graham (Traveller Letters, March 2-3), on the nonsense of overpacking. We pack light for all our trips: to Europe with layers (in truly cold weather, wear leggings under looser trousers), cardigan in neutral colour, a fleece plus a smarter jacket for posh. In Thailand recently, we paid 30 baht ($1) to launder one kilogram of clothing in less than six hours while we swam in the pool. And what exactly do you need mini suitcases as hand luggage for? Aside from breakables or a good book or paper, check it all in. There's enough entertainment and sleep to be had on long hauls these days.

- Alison Bate

Cold hard facts, please

Our extended family is considering a skiing holiday in Japan next January, and this would include children who are aged five to eight years. The children have some skiing experience, but obviously not a lot. Principally, we would like it to be a family holiday, which is fun for everyone. Our main concerns, however, are whether it would simply be too cold for younger children, and where we might find a family-friendly ski-in/ski-out resort that can accommodate skiers of all levels. We wonder if there are others who could give us advice or suggestions based on their own experiences.

- Ann Beharell

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