Traveller letters: Qantas flight delay results in five-star stay

DELAY DELIGHTS

I am definitely a glass half-full type of person so it may be that other affected passengers would not agree with me. However, I would like to congratulate Qantas on their handling of the delay and then cancellation of my flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne in January.

Due to a mechanical fault (which required a part to be flown into Hong Kong from Australia) passengers were provided with five-star downtown accommodation and meals for two nights. We received regular updates from Qantas as to our expected departure day and time.

I doubt very much that any of the budget airlines would similarly care for delayed clients. I would have been more than happy to endure an even longer delay.

Jeanette Menheere, Connewarre, VIC

CLEARING THE AIR

I agree with Anne Buckley re AirBnB but for a slightly different reason: the nauseating "AirBnB community". I live in Orange, NSW, and had to be in Sydney for work for a week and didn't want to stay in a hotel. I hadn't used AirBnB before.

I paid for and (I thought) booked an apartment in Cremorne for a week and advised the owner that I would be on my own in the apartment during the week, but my husband would join me for the weekend.

A few hours after making the booking I received an email from the owner, asking me to tell her "a bit about myself". No thanks – I was wanting accommodation, not a new friend, so I promptly cancelled the booking.

Stayz is much less intrusive.

Sally Kay, Orange, NSW

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LETTER OF THE WEEK: PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

Further to the excellent article on places of pilgrimage around the world (Traveller, March 11) I'd like to nominate another remarkable example in the former of the spiritual pilgrimage to Muktinath in Nepal, important for both Hindu and Buddhist.

From Pokhara the trek passes through sub-tropical countryside, then ever upwards, passing the shimmering sacred Machhapuchhre (6993 metres) then through coniferous and rhododendron forests to Poon Hill (3300 metres) to see the sunrise on New Year's Day. Plunge down to Tatopani (1160 metres) for a swim in the hot springs to refresh our tired muscles.

The giant sentinels of Dhaulagiri (8167 metres) and Annapurna (8091 metres) guard the Khali Gandaki, the world's deepest gorge. Sharp scents of orange and apple trees clear the head. Children sing on their way to school, belled donkeys carried unknown loads while overhead giant lammergers whirl on the thermals.

Across braided streams from Kagbeni up to our final destination we approach Muktinath (3710 metres). Here is the eternal flame surrounded by 108 water spouts. A moving experience for everyone, especially the aged Buddhist monk who accompanied us along the way turning his prayer wheel as he walked.

It's the journey as well as the destination that is important.

Charmain Williams, Forster, NSW

LEG PULLING

I have just paid a whopping $630 to choose seats for my family of two adults and two children (13 and 10) from Sydney to London return on Emirates. This is in addition to paying a total of $10,000 for the tickets.

Since last October, Emirates now charges adults $55 to choose seats on a "long leg" and $35 on a "short leg". Therefore, if flying from Sydney to London, Emirates will charge twice – for the longer Sydney to Dubai leg and the shorter Dubai to London leg. Children under 12 pay half.

Samantha Venables, Kincumber, NSW

COMINGS AND GOINGS

Lee Tulloch (Traveller, Luxe Nomad, March 4) states that Israel denies entry to people who have been to a "slew" of Islamic nations. This is completely untrue. There are no restrictions on entry to Israel based on visas stamped in your passport, though you understandably may be subject to more questioning.

However, the reverse is true, so on entry to Israel you receive a loose visa that you have to retain until departure. Lee should have checked with the Israeli embassy.

Peter Wein, St Kilda East, VIC

GIVING TRUMP THE SLIP

Travellers to Canada who wish to avoid indignities of the type suffered by Mem Fox and Jeff Linden and his wife (Traveller letters, March 11) at the hands of Trump-emboldened officialdom at Los Angeles International Airport might consider instead travelling via Hong Kong, China, Korea or Japan.

One stop flights via Hong Kong, Tokyo or Seoul to Canada are competitively-priced and only slightly longer in duration to routes transiting the US. As a bonus, one can enjoy proper service from an Asian airline instead of the stripped down ''service'' characteristic of domestic flights within North America. If one is so inclined, a journey could be broken in one of the Asian capitals.

No pesky ETSA to arrange and pay for, free entry on arrival if you are staying (for less than 72 hours in the case of China), and absolutely no hassle for transit passengers.

Let me see, dim sum in Hong Kong, sushi in Tokyo or getting yelled at by officials at LAX after a 15-hour flight. Such a difficult choice. I can see more services of this type being added until such time as the US comes to its senses.

Ken Richards, Elwood, VIC

GIVING TRUMP THE FINGER

Every time I visit the US I get hauled away into a back room. Why? Well, 50 years ago I had my right index finger amputated because of an accident.

Now, every time go into the US, I'm told to put my right index finger on a pad. I always hold my hand up, stating I have no right index finger. The response is always a very gruff, "I said put your right index finger on the pad."

When I do so and put the stump of it on the pad it turns red and then I'm hauled into a back room. Surely I can't be the only traveller with a finger short.

Nigel Wiggins, Bega, NSW

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