Letters: Airline cancellation fees due to coronavirus - here's a simple way to avoid them

WAITING GAME

If you have paid for an international flight later this year and try to cancel, you are likely to be in for a cancellation charge. You can avoid this very simply. Don't cancel, just wait for the airline to do it and then they have to refund your full payment. This is the advice I got from Flight Centre and it has worked on three bookings I had made.

Alex Hamill, Sydney, NSW

CROWD CONTROL

Your article "Best day trips from Melbourne: Six top national and state parks to visit" was timely and covered lovely areas. But please, when you recommend national parks, reinforce visitors' respect for the area, and their responsibility towards its care. I live in Sherbrooke in Victoria's Dandenong Ranges and the weekend crowds, and the damage and mess left behind, is heartbreaking. Sherbrooke Road does not look now as it did in your photo.

This is not entirely due to your article, of course, but it would help if you could point out the need for visitor responsibility. There is no policing of traffic in this area and there were upwards of 300 cars parked on the edges of the road. These areas are now ripped up and gouged out. Rubbish is thrown anywhere and everywhere and it seems to be left to locals to clean up. Social distancing with these crowds is simply not possible.

Kathryn Nauta, Sherbrooke, VIC

POLE POSITION

Twice recently Traveller has said that LOT Polish Airlines has just flown to Australia for the first time. I used to live on the Sydney flightpath and would regularly see LOT IL-62s coming in to land, I think this might have been in the late 1980s, just before the end of communism there.

Bradley Kendal, Bardwell Park, NSW

SWEDE THOUGHT

Thanks for the weekly Traveller quiz. Born in Sweden, I would argue that middag means lunch - mid (middle) dag (day), in other words middle of the day. Dinner is kvällsmat - kväll (late afternoon/evening) mat (food). Breakfast is frukost. I moved to Australia in 1985, so I could be flaky. By now, I think everyone knows fika is 3pm for coffee with cakes. Growing up on a farm, vodka was added to black coffee at any time of the day and called kaffejög for warming (might have one now). Thank you for distracting me from working at home on a Friday arvo.

Nils Arvid, Blackburn, VIC

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TRAINS OF THOUGHT I

My experience of seeking compensation from Deutsche Bahn is similar to that of J Geddes of Kellyville NSW (Traveller letters, May 22). Deutsche Bahn's policy of limiting compensation to people who've booked trains departing before May 4, while the German government is prohibiting persons from third countries such as Australia from entering Germany before June 15, is clearly indefensible. By way of contrast, I'd made "non-refundable" room bookings at three German hotels. When contacted by email, two arranged full refunds and the other offered a voucher valid for three years.

Wayne Bradley, Buderim, QLD

TRAINS OF THOUGHT II

Your reader J. Geddes is mistaken regarding the refund policy of German Railways during the COVID-19 crisis. Any long-distance train ticket purchased before March 13, 2020 can be used flexibly at any time until October 31, regardless of the ticket type or date on the original ticket (new seat reservations will, however, have to be made.) In addition, all long distance tickets except the very cheapest "Super Saver" tickets can always be exchanged for a voucher for a fee of €10 (deducted from the value of the voucher) right up until the day before travel. This is standard practice, and can be done entirely online without having to speak to anyone. The voucher is valid for three years, and can be redeemed online. The regulations can be found, in English, here.

Michael Scott, Berlin, Germany

DIRECT APPROACH

A word of warning about booking travel online. I booked a business trip on Qantas to South Africa in mid- March on the Expedia website which of course was cancelled with COVID-19. Expedia tells me the credit can only be used for travel to the same destination (useless for me as I don't need it now). Qantas tells me they should be giving me a credit for any destination. I've had no luck when I called Expedia. I will only book with the airlines directly in future.

Elizabeth Barr, Newtown, NSW

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