On October 17 last year we booked flights with Malaysia Airlines to Paris and return via Kuala Lumpur, as we planned a stopover in Kuala Lumpur. Purely by accident, on December 9 we discovered that our flight was going to London, not Paris.
We sent an email to the airline querying if this was in fact correct, as we had not been informed by mobile, phone or email. When checking our booking on its website, it still showed we were flying to Paris.
A reply did confirm that "as from January 26, 2016 all Paris flights are re-routed to London" and for us to contact them for connecting flights to Paris.
We requested a full refund, which was acknowledged in writing. A week later and still with no refund, we rang and inquired when we could expect the amount to be credited to our account. We were told "eight weeks", meaning Malaysia Airlines had the use of our funds for four months.
Christoph Mueller, Malaysia Airlines' new CEO, may be trying to turn around the airline's "flagging fortunes", but this appalling example of public relations is unlikely to help.
D. Donovan, Barwon Heads, VIC
LETTER OF THE WEEK
Driving from San Cristobal to Palenque as part of a small group tour of Mexico with a well-regarded Australian tour operator, the tour bus of two of my friends was confronted by a group of masked bandits standing in a line across the road and armed with sub-machineguns.
Fortunately, as soon as other cars appeared, the bandits scattered. My friends' tour company acted responsibly, notified the police, and immediately changed the route for their future tour groups.
As I will be travelling this same route in April next year with another operator, Peregrine Tours, I contacted them and asked if they would be looking at alternative routes, given this recent incident. The response was extremely disappointing.
The destination manager, who said he had been to Mexico two weeks before I contacted him, had no issue. He said that Peregrine's groups on its weekly trips had never experienced such an incident and that my friends had been extremely unlucky.
His response was that they have a team on the ground that monitors as much as they can for any possible issues and, if so, they re-route the itinerary to avoid any possible trouble.
But I'm still concerned as to whether an incident such as the one I've described has happened to any other travellers, and do travellers to Mexico need to pack a bulletproof vest and a can of capsicum spray?
S. Giovanelli, Dulwich Hill, NSW
There are high-speed trains everywhere but if you want a slow train experience I can highly recommend Amtrak's delightfully named California Zephyr.
It takes three days to get from San Francisco to Chicago. It's a slow but very relaxing journey. I booked online and got a sleeper which included all meals, which were superb. This train is excellent value and a great way to see the country and meet people if you're not in a hurry.
Peter Mitchell, Hampton, VIC
As an Australian living in France, I grimaced at Geoff Palfreman's letter (Rants & raves, December 12-13) regarding his "pink hamburger" served in a small hotel restaurant in (presumably) rural France, and where he recommends eating a hamburger at McDonald's.
I would suggest that the eating of any hamburger in France is a great shame, as it means he has carefully avoided trying some of the gastronomic delights of true French, heritage-listed cuisine, such as beef burgundy, coq au vin and other dishes far too numerous to mention here.
I don't think I have ever eaten a hamburger (pink or otherwise) in the 25 years I've been living here. I wait until I'm back in Australia or the US.
Janet Magnin, Besancon, France
If the colour of the mincemeat in his French hamburger upset Geoff Palfreman, he and his wife may be more upset to discover that it was probably horse meat. Horse meat is commonly used as mince in such things as hamburgers in France, especially in smaller establishments.
It is fairly easy to pick because it remains pink when cooked. I have to say that after our first misgivings about the source, my wife and I have eaten it on several occasions and found it delicious.
Peter Moore, Forbes, NSW
My souvenirs, my tokens of remembrance (Traveller, December 12-13) tend to be practical, usable items. They include cotton tea towels and linen from Germany, table napkins from Estonia and Russia, mini-sword-like barbecue skewers from Istanbul Spice Market (checked luggage), superb bath towels (unavailable in Australia) from Italy, ceramics dishes from Greece, etc.
All items are used, serve as a reminder of the wonderful places we've visited and keep our minds open to future travel.
Lea Collins, Coffs Harbour, NSW
For more than 20 years we have had our mail held two or three times a year for periods ranging from three to six weeks, and until recently have never had a problem.
However, after paying Australia Post to hold our mail for three weeks in October-November, we arrived home to find several letters in our mailbox with no yellow "hold" stickers and all dated during the middle week of our absence, while the rest of our mail arrived the day after our return, as expected.
We contacted Australia Post through its MyPost website to lodge a complaint, and the next day received a call offering an apology and the refund of one week's fee. No explanation was offered for the apparent system failure but we were told that it would be investigated.
It is important for people travelling away from home to be able to rely on their mail being kept safe, not being dumped on the doorstep or stuffed into an overflowing mailbox from which items could be retrieved by passers-by.
E. and M. Watson, Burraneer NSW