Everyone asks ...
How do I speed through airport security checks?
The shortest queue is not necessarily the fastest. Queues with people in business attire are likely to move faster than those with families and leisure travellers. Any liquids, aerosols or gels must be in containers with a maximum capacity of 100 millilitres and packed in a see-through plastic bag. Do this in advance. Laptops and tablet devices must be removed from your bag so make sure they're easily accessible.
Keys, money and anything else metallic, such as a belt or shoes with large or elaborate metal eyelets, will set off the walk-through detection device. Jackets, cardigans and coats must be removed and passed through the X-ray, so keep it simple. If you're wearing a scarf, stow it in your bag until you're past security. Anything gift-wrapped may be torn open for inspection.
Airport body scanners were introduced at Australian airports in December 2012 and these will detect anything in your pockets, even plastic items, so remove these as well.
Above all, stay cool. Protest, raise your voice, give in to sarcasm and the outcome will not be happy. Accept that for the time being, all your legal, moral and ethical rights are temporarily suspended in the name of the greater good. Be polite to the security staff and remember, it's the world we live in.
Take your own bite of the Apple
My husband and I will be visiting New York in August. We are staying in an apartment in Manhattan Midtown and will have four full days there. There are so many things to see and do that we find it quite overwhelming. Can you suggest an itinerary that includes the "must-see" as well as interesting cafes, etc?
- S. and L. Hutton, Castle Hill
New York City is a giant, and slightly overwhelming. I'm reluctant to suggest an itinerary for the very reason that it is so well endowed with just about everything the human heart could wish for in the urban context. Do you like art galleries, museums, Broadway shows, jazz or shopping? One person's must-see list is another's don't-bothers, but a great starting point is Frommer's New York website (frommers.com). It will help you narrow down your preferences.
Another great resource is Time Out New York (timeout.com/newyork). In particular, take a look at their food and drink awards for 2013 - lots of suggestions for those cool cafes.
How to cater for a greater crater experience
My husband and I are travelling to Kenya and Tanzania in September. We want to know what is the best way to see the Ngorongoro Crater. Do we need to stay in the crater or would we be better off doing day trips?
- D. Mumford, Georgetown
Ngorongoro Crater covers a huge area of Tanzania, about 260 square kilometres. As well as one of the wonders of the African continent, this is also one of the largest craters in the world.
There are safari operators who offer a two-night/three-day tour of the crater from Arusha and this is enough to see the elephants, lions, rhinos and vast herds of antelope.
However, there is much to be said for waking in the morning and watching as mist swirls and rises from the crater's vast cauldron to reveal the spectacle of 25,000 animals grazing on the grassland, together with the predators for whom this is a giant larder.
There is only a small number of hotels in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and if money is no object, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is top drawer. Craftsmen from Zanzibar carved the four-poster beds, the doors and wall panelling. Local Maasai pounded out the metalwork and Tanzanian women provided the decorative flourishes.
Described as ethnic baroque, the individual guest lodges are based on the traditional Maasai mud hut, with a few refinements that most Maasai huts lack such as personal butlers, fireplaces, en suite bathrooms with chandeliers and a balcony that overlooks the grasslands below.
Of course you do not need all these embellishments to have a sensational wildlife experience, but if you're looking to gold-plate your visit, this is the way to go.
Best to go for the cheap and safe travel options in Myanmar
We are taking a river cruise on the Irrawaddy in August from Yangon to Mandalay. We have flights booked to Singapore and it seems easy to get to Yangon. Should we take an internal flight from Mandalay to Yangon (poor safety record rumours), or are there direct flights from Mandalay to Singapore?
- C. Sartori, Ashmore, Qld
You can fly direct between Mandalay and Singapore but not non-stop. The quickest flight I can find is with Myanmar Airways International via Yangon, with a total flight time of five hours and 20 minutes. MAI is the country's international flag carrier, and you can find reviews at Skytrax (www.airlinequality.com).
You can also fly direct and non-stop from Mandalay to Bangkok in under two hours and this may be a better option. The cheapest flight between these two cities is with discount carrier AirAsia (airasia.com), which would be a good choice if you are concerned about the safety record of Myanmar's airlines.
You can fly business class on a budget
I am tempted by a fare from alphaflightguru.com but would like some sound advice before committing.
- G. Petit, Bayview
Alpha Flight Guru (alphaflightguru.com) is one of several discount travel agents that offers substantial reductions on the normal price of business class air travel. It uses various techniques to get these fares that are not available to the public.
For example, the company might purchase frequent flyer points from a traveller with excess points that are about to expire and re-sell those points to you in the form of a confirmed booking, with benefits to all parties concerned.
There is nothing illegal or underhand in the way it operates, no airline rules are being broken and it claims to have been in operation for 30 years. Customer satisfaction varies, but in general, flyers who have used the site report favourably.
Fly Business for Less (flybusinessforless.com) is another similar operation.
You can find plenty of online feedback on these operators. If you decide to use their services, paying with a credit card should ensure some level of protection.