Traveller letters: Watch your wallet on flights, even if you're in business class

INTO THIN AIR

I recently flew between Auckland to Los Angeles in Air New Zealand's business class. The flight was comfortable with good service. However, to my horror, after my bed had been restored to its normal seat position I found that my wallet, which had been in the pocket of my in-flight pyjamas, was now underneath the footstool but with all of the cash, approximately $US1000 and $A200, missing.

This theft must have occurred either when my seat was being converted to a bed (the underneath of the footstool is virtually inaccessible when the bed is set) or vice versa.

I complained to the flight purser, who said he would make a note of it in his flight report. However, he refused to write a police report. After I complained directly to Air New Zealand, the final response one month later was that as no one had admitted to the theft, that was the end of the matter.

Their offer to co-operate with any police complaint I might make was completely disingenuous, especially given the original absence of a police report from the purser. No recompense, in any form, has been forthcoming.

Tim Noble, Southbank VIC

LETTER OF THE WEEK

I have just toured south-east Asia on my bicycle, which was a fantastic experience apart from the unbelievable frustration of taking a bicycle aboard an aircraft.

Vietnam Airlines classed my boxed bike as special luggage and wanted to charge me an extra $415 to take it back to Melbourne. After a huge scene at Saigon Airport, I left without it.

All airlines insist you dismantle your bike and put it into a box, yet they do not provide any boxes and there are no facilities to work on at any airport with one exception, Christchurch Airport in New Zealand.

It has a special cycling assembling-dismantling area. In Australia, most people will not fly with a bike because it's just too much of a headache.

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Ken Gray, Beaumaris, VIC

HANGING OFFENCE

Many hotels, motels, river cruise boats and the like, display notices asking guests to hang up their towels, face washers and floor mats if they want to use them again and thereby save washing and help the environment. 

I always carefully hang them up only to come back to our room or cabin later to find that they have all  been replaced with clean ones. Why do they do this? It seems a waste of time and money to put these signs up if the staff take no notice of them.

Eileen Pearson, Tura Beach, NSW

WAITING GAME

As I was going to Paris for the first time, I booked a pick-up through Parishuttle, which would pick me up at my terminal and take me to my accommodation.

On arrival I  had to call them and advise them which terminal to pick me up from. When I called I was told they would be there in 30 minutes. Three more phone calls and two hours later, they finally arrived. This after a 23-hour flight. No explanation as to the delay nor any apology.

Kathryn Willersdorf, Coburg, VIC

RENTAL CRISIS

We recently paid in advance for an Avis rental car in Spain. Although we paid for six weeks' rental, we were told that there would be two contracts. Inexplicably, Avis has a 30-day limit for contracts. We were assured that all was well and it was just paperwork to issue us with two contracts. We understood we would pay €70 on collection of the car for the additional driver.

However, we returned home to note that our credit card had been charged twice for the second driver option even though we had the one car for the full six weeks. Avis' justification for the additional €70 was that we had taken two contracts on the same car.

I suppose we should have known better, despite the assurances of the car hire supplier. Once before we had used Avis and had to claw back an additional $800 charge on our credit card. 

Sue Martin, Avalon Beach, NSW

PLEASANTRIES EXCHANGED

In reference to your feature by Max Anderson on Aurora, New York, (Traveller, December 17) I grew up there in the 1950s-60s on a small farm at the north end of the village. My parents bought the farm in 1950 from Edith P. Morgan who, when she died, left her lakeside mansion to the town as a primary school.

The real trouble with Pleasant Rowland started with the circa 1830s Aurora Inn, which was completely gutted in her  version of "restoration". And, one reason so many historic buildings were in disrepair was that Wells College bought up many properties, including our farm, in the late '60s when the college expanded to accommodate the Baby Boomers swelling college enrolments.

Then after the boom, the college was left with a surplus it couldn't afford to maintain. But Aurora has been through many an incarnation, starting in 1779 with the burning of the Indian village and the massacre of the Cayuga Indians by the Sullivan & Clinton Expedition, American troops who punished the Indians for siding with the British during the Revolutionary War.

Then in the 1850s the Wells and Morgan families built their homes on the lake and started Wells College for women. Now Pleasant Rowland has put her own "historic" stamp on the place – a "theme-park" 19th-century village. Aurora will go on perhaps to have yet another incarnation if the Indian Land Title is ever restored to them.

Who knows?

Diane Webster, Narooma, NSW

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