What is distasteful about bare feet on a Sydney to London flight (Traveller, February 10)? Let me count the ways.
Firstly, feet are not beautiful. Consider cracked heels, horny toenails, bunions and misshapen toes. Then remember that tinea and fungal toenails are contagious.
Consideration for others (that old-fashioned concept), and for one's own health and safety, demand socks at least.
Robin Douglas, Cherrybrook, NSW
In the process of applying for authorisation to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program, I ended up on estavisa.com.au who charged me $US89 instead of the $US14 I would have paid on the official website.
I did not realise I was not on the official site until I was billed later. When I queried the cost, I was sent a generic email explaining that they are an agency who assists people with their ESTA applications.
I did not actually receive any assistance and I cannot imagine why most people would need any assistance; the process is very straightforward.
Susie Hall, Tyalgum, NSW
LETTER OF THE WEEK
RUSTIC OF APPROVAL
A few years ago I read a letter in Traveller recommending Rustic India, a travel agency in Goa, India. I saved this information hoping to travel to India in the future.
In January this year, two families with two kids under 10 had a fantastic two-week trip visiting Mumbai, Goa and Delhi.
A once-in-a-lifetime journey was filled with great experiences – from the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan Mumbai to the laidback beaches of Goa and the splendour of the Taj Mahal.
Rustic India was integral to the success of our holiday. They organised our accommodation, domestic flights, tour of the Taj Mahal and transfers and kept in contact from the moment we arrived at midnight in Mumbai. They ensured we were safe and comfortable and provided advice on places to eat and see.
They are a small boutique operation run by Felix and Gwen and offer a personalised service that is exceptional and affordable.
Thanks to the letters section, we found Rustic India and experienced a memorable family holiday.
Mervyn Sequeira, Earlwood, NSW
Your cover story on Ethiopia by Sue Williams (Traveller, February 17) was beautifully told and brought the country back to life for me.
Ethiopia certainly is a fascinating country. I travelled there in a small private group and we were treated to coffee ceremonies – so simple and so enjoyable.
Wildlife birds or animals were visible, particularly in national parks. A large group of gelada baboons on an open grass plateau were slowly moving away from us like they were weeding.
Amazing churches out of hewn rock, Blue Nile Falls, people happy to talk to us and lots of runners.
Andrew Betheras, Waterloo, NSW
We all know that travelling without insurance is a risky proposition, but making assumptions can leave policy holders with a false sense of security. One case in point is your letter, "Shooting incident" (Traveller letters, February 10).
While I can't explain why QBE took so long (the Financial Ombudsmen Service could have helped here), I can offer insight as to why a $1300 camera could result in a claim being settled for $3.45. The first part is the excess.
However, the big issue here is the assumption that travel policies will replace items at their purchase prices.This is not the case. Most policies will depreciate lost or stolen items when assessing claims. In the case of electronics, they are depreciated at a rapid rate.
As a warning for all travellers, this applies to all items and, what's worse, is that the depreciation tables are not included with the policy PDS.
There is little way of knowing the value of items until you make the claim. Additionally, the excess is applied after deprecation.
In the case of the $1300 camera, the ANZ-QBE insurance policy – with an excess of $250 – would suggest it was depreciated to just $253.45, giving rise to the $3.45 payment.
Scott Mendham, Surry Hills, NSW
For many years we have taken out travel insurance when going overseas, hoping never to claim. After reading a recent article in Choice which said the travel insurance given at no cost by some credit cards was worthwhile, we contacted the Commonwealth Bank (as issuer of our MasterCard) and their insurance partner Allianz.
Unexpectedly, we needed to claim for a doctor's visit in Hong Kong. It was expensive but the process of claiming was efficient both in HK and in Australia and we were reimbursed (minus an unexpected excess of $250) very promptly. It was a very pleasant surprise.
Helene Mountford, Denistone, NSW
Airbnb has pluses and it is becoming evident even more minuses. For instance, I'm aware of four rental properties being advertised on Airbnb by tenants without the knowledge or permission of the landlords in Sydney – all owners are known to us.
The tenants are violating their leases, possibly body corporate and strata rules, and voiding the owners' insurance. Earning the quick buck could have devastating consequences.
In two of the cases, the tenants leases will be immediately terminated. Airbnb were advised of the situation and while they could cancel most of the forward bookings, they could not or did not want to cancel bookings over the new year period.
So the greedy tenants are impacting on both the landlords and the clients, who would have to find alternative accommodation at short notice in peak season. This is not even taking into consideration the consequences should damage occur in the property.
Philippa Smith, West Pennant Hills, NSW
Sorry Louise A. Hitchcock (Traveller letters, February 3), the purpose of your travel has nothing to do with it.
The rules for carry-on baggage are, in nearly all cases, clearly explained by the airlines. One carry-on bag means just that: one. If your equipment doesn't fit in the carry-on bag, it belongs in the hold.
Graham Collins, Surf Beach, NSW