Traveller letters: Chinese airline surprises

LETTER OF THE WEEK

I recently travelled to Chengdu, capital city of the Sichuan province in China. The Sichuan Airlines route between Melbourne and Chengdu is a direct flight. I booked through a travel agent, as you can't book online, and it cost me $780 return. I had very low expectations, as my understanding was that Sichuan Airlines usually flies domestic, and at that price, well . . . But how wrong I was. I could travel with two pieces of checked luggage 23kg each and 8kg of hand luggage; the seat was comfortable; safety information was clear and understandable; inflight entertainment was good, although limited with many programs in Mandarin, as to be expected; toilets were clean; food was delicious; and the flight attendants had limited English, but made up for it with smiles and friendliness. I will definitely be using Sichuan Airlines again.

-Penelope Goward

SPREAD THE LOVE

I live in a dairy farming area and also noted the serving of Lurpak butter on three flights I had with Qantas in August. I wrote to the managing director, adding that I was also unimpressed with being served Turkish apricots in the snack pack. I received a reply from the spin department (officially called customer communication) saying they serve Australian butter in their lounges, which seems at odds with Sarah Seymour's experience (Traveller letters, September 7-8). The letter noted that Qantas buys from more than 1500 food and beverage suppliers in Australia; a pity a butter supplier did not get a look in.

-Ian Winlaw

WHAT'S THE RUSH

I was interested to read "Tours of Duty" (Traveller letters, September 7-8) and agree with the comments.

My wife and I travelled to Paris in June for a 14-night tour. Only twice did we spend two nights in one place; the rest were one-nighters. One day we travelled 570km. We arrived in Avignon and were taken to a famous bridge and then to our hotel. Next morning we inquired if we were going to the Palace of the Popes. We were told we did not have time as we were going to the French Riviera and it was a long way. We did enjoy the tour with great company, five-star coach and an excellent tour guide.

-Mervyn Simmons

In response to "Tours of Duty", the easy solution is independent travel, where one can organise and pre-book all flights, accommodation, transfers and personalised tours by car or join a bus tour in certain locations, etc, and have a tour built to your own requirements. We are the same era of travellers, having enjoyed doing our own thing around the world when younger but now preferring (in certain countries) to have everything pre-arranged yet allowing us the freedom of choosing where and when to do each leg of the journey. Best of all, this can be done with some group tours or entirely on your own.

-Julie Di Pietro

EXCHANGE IRATE

More cruises are arriving and leaving here in Sydney. Why is it that on some cruise lines we are expected to pay on board in US dollars? With us losing so much on the exchange rate, it hits hard. Maybe if we all choose cruises that take our Australian dollars the cruise lines will all take note. More important to have full cruises than half empty ones.

-Christine Brown

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