Traveller letters: Beware overhead locker louts on international flights

BUMPS IN THE NIGHT

The rules for carry-on baggage and the photo (Traveller letters, February 24) remind me that there are always overhead locker louts on international flights. These people, often when others are trying to sleep, stand up and go bang, crash to remove or deposit something in their carry-on baggage in the overhead lockers.

Most passengers (except those with babies or young children or with special needs) should be able to keep everything needed for the flight in a small bag at their feet, thereby not disturbing other passengers.

Geoffrey Williamson, Woollahra, NSW

LETTER OF THE WEEK

PARK LIFE

Reading the article "Necks and the city" (Traveller, February 24) brought back memories of a wonderful fortnight my wife and I spent touring wildlife parks in Tanzania and Kenya.

Our last day in Nairobi was busy, with visits to the giraffe sanctuary, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Karen Blixen's home before we were taken to the airport. As we were driving along a rough road skirting the city the driver pointed to the countryside over the fence, explaining that it was a national park.

We were chilled to hear that wealthy people had designs on taking some of it over for development, so I was delighted to read that howls of protest had been raised at proposals to build a railway over the park. 

I hope the protests have been heeded and that this jewel is preserved.

Peter Hepburn, Claremont, TAS

MIND OUR LANGUAGE

I find myself protesting again about the misconception about Welsh vowels. Keith Austin's article on the canal boats on the Llangollen Canal (Traveller, February 24) states, "really, the Welsh need to buy some vowels".

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Actually Keith, our language is blessed with two extra vowels in its alphabet – "w" and "y". This is a common misunderstanding by non-Welsh speakers and one I pointed out a few years ago in this supplement.

Lilian Wasik, Merewether, NSW

AROMA THERAPY

I've been interested in the letters arguing that feet are not beautiful. One can look away, of course; unfortunately this was not an option I had on a flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne. 

The passenger next to me took off his shoes releasing a pungent gorgonzola smell I had to endure. I'd love to know what the etiquette is in dealing with such a situation. Suggestions welcome.

Ro Bailey, Hawthorn, VIC

SAVINGS PLAN

I'm sorry to tell Susie Hall (Traveller, February 24) that the official site for authorisation to travel to US under the visa waiver scheme is the government website: esta.cbp.dhs.gov and the cost $US14 per person. She might have saved $US75. All other websites that look like ESTA and contain that word are not the official website and charge a premium.

Richard Mason, Mona Vale, NSW

BREATHLESS ACCOUNT

While touring Greece my wife collapsed with a bacterial infection that led to pneumonia. She was treated in a third-world-standard public hospital short of pillows and toilet paper, where family sleep in the shared ward to supplement the shortage of nursing staff. Conditions were appalling.

We were abandoned by RACV insurance despite my calls for help. It was a terrifying situation exacerbated by not speaking the language. I then had to transfer my wife back to Athens and stay at a hotel for 10 days before she could return home.

It was only after we arrived in Melbourne 18 days later that we were advised our claim was denied. This was based on my wife's disclosure that years ago she had asthma but was now clear. 

Two respiratory specialists stated that bacterial pneumonia is not asthma, but RACV dismissed our claim as it falls within the definition of a respiratory disease. Break a leg and it's straight forward, but an illness is easy to challenge and dismiss. We are down $35,000.

Lance Sterling, Burwood, VIC

AUSTRALIAN GRAFFITI

Having returned from an overseas holiday visiting family, travelling aboard efficient high-speed trains and moving through world-class airports such as Doha, Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Madrid, Malaga, Manchester and Amsterdam, we enter the tourism gateway to Sydney.

The arrivals hall is tired, dated and dirty, just for a start, and when we navigated the airport train link to Central, it was standing room only with no luggage facility as the old rattling grey box creaks its way to its destination.

We then took the Newcastle express and experienced the wonderful vista awaiting our tourist visitors. Paint was splattered over buildings and infrastructure for kilometres to the outer suburbs: graffiti created by vandals in the name of art and freedom of expression.  

Phil and Katie Mclean, Hawks Nest, NSW

HOME RUN

It's amazing how varied our travel experiences can be. My most recent arrival at Sydney International Airport after a 24-hour journey from New York was seamless, unlike Tony Cosma (Traveller letters, February 17).

Fortunately, I'm reasonably able-bodied so walked quickly to one of the many working Smart Gate kiosks then on to a Smart Gate. After that it was a short walk through the baggage hall (travelling with hand luggage), straight to a "nothing to declare" exit and down to a train to the city. I know it was a dream run (only 15 minutes from exiting the plane to boarding a train) but probably my best international airport arrival ever.

Also, not only do you pay for luggage carts in New York at JFK terminal 7 (Qantas) but it's crowded, cold and with no toilets in the baggage area. As for parking costs at Australian airports – well that's a can of worms of its own.

Lyn Drummond, MacMasters Beach, NSW

HOST WITH THE MOST

Like Philippa Smith, (Traveller letters, February 20) I have concerns about Airbnb bona fides. Searching for a room in Siem Reap, I realised that a large number of properties (1000-plus, in fact) were being offered by a single "verified host". And while this host had been active for more than a year, only two reviews, both cancellations by the host at short notice, had been published.

In spite of assurances to my regular enquiries, no outcome has been reached in over three months. In the meantime many Airbnb users are potential victims of this apparent hoax. Suggestion: investigate the reviews of hosts very carefully.

Peter Samers, Brunswick East, VIC

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