Reader letters: Airbnb hosts are the ones left out of pocket

LETTER OF THE WEEK

DIRECT ACTION

A reason why Airbnb hosts are reluctant to give refunds outside the booking conditions (Rants & raves, October 9) is the way Airbnb itself penalises the host. When booking through Airbnb, they require you to pay upfront the full amount, no matter how far in advance you book. They hold onto the funds until about five days after you check-in to the accommodation. If a host agrees to give you a cancellation refund, even though you are not legally entitled to one, for COVID or any other reason, Airbnb immediately charges the host for the full amount of the refund. This is despite the host not receiving any payment for your booking until after your original intended arrival date. In short, the host is out of pocket because Airbnb wants to hold onto the cash. Guests pay Airbnb about 15 per cent commission for this "service" and hosts may another 3.5 per cent. This is typical of many of the harsh policies Airbnb imposes on hosts and it's why many hosts treat direct booking customers with more compassion than guests who book through Airbnb. Many hosts have their own website that you can book directly through and more cheaply than Airbnb, and they would prefer not to deal with Airbnb and its dictatorial attitude towards hosts. However they have little choice as Airbnb is so popular with guests who often cannot be bothered to Google the name of the accommodation to see if they can get a better deal booking directly.

David Walsh, Essendon, VIC

RACK AND RUIN

Thanks to Lee Tulloch for the thumbs up in her column (Traveller, October 16) for sustainable travel. I have long been frustrated with the greenwashing occurring in hotels in many countries. Despite in-room signage promoting the reuse of towels, for instance, practice has not changed. The first time I complained, I was told, "no-one ever complains if we change them and people do complain if we don't." I must have been the first. So as travellers, let's keep making our position clear.

Helen Rainger, Goulburn, NSW

SANTIAGO A NO-GO

Anyone wanting to fly to Santiago in Chile once our borders open should be wary about booking with Qantas. We booked and paid for flights with Qantas for mid-February, 2022. The flights were on Qantas' partner, LATAM. We have since learned that LATAM has no flights scheduled from Australia to Santiago at this stage. A recent announcement from LATAM said they were trying to organise flights "sometime in the first quarter of 2022". Perhaps Qantas should not be taking bookings and cash for flights that are not scheduled to fly at this stage.

Peter O'Keefe, Collingwood, VIC

ALARMING ADVICE

The daily pre-dawn wake-up by the eastern koel's plaintive call is reminding us of a conversation in Vietnam which left us stumped for an answer. (Yes we're desperate to get travelling again for more fun interactions with foreigners.) Touring the highlands of Sapa in the country's north, our knowledgeable, friendly local guide, Pham, was sharing information about the local birds. So we shared our thoughts on the koel and its annoying call waking us up before the sun has even shown its face above the horizon. After listening to our humorous whinging, she surprised us with her assessment of the situation: "Why don't you shoot it and eat it ?"

Laura Hansen, Naremburn, NSW

SO FRENCHY, SO CHIC

How lovely to have the Traveller cover of October 16 described as "on the road again in Languedoc, France". There's no better way to do it than, as pictured, in a delightful, quirky, Citroen 2CV (Deux Chevaux) - presumably with its bigger engine option of 602cc.

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Will Hagon, Bellbird, NSW

RECOGNITION FACTOR

Here in Russia, where we've been living, my wife and I are struggling to not only find flights with overpriced airfares back to Sydney but also with the problem of vaccination policy. None of the federal government's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved vaccines are available to us here. The only vaccine we can take is Sputnik V and I really hope that the TGA will recognise it soon.

Raymond Yuen, Cherepovets, Russia

LOVE, ITALIAN STYLE

Your article on the Italian Dolomites (Traveller, October 16) reminded me of the wonderful week we spent in Ortisei, exploring some of the many wonderful walking trails in the Val Gardena area - while staying in an apartment with an equally magical view. A very special place.

Joye Walsh, Roseville, NSW

WELCOME TO THE DOSE AGE

With the prospect of overseas travel resuming soon, I was disconcerted to be told that the US doesn't recognise the AstraZeneca vaccine. Is this true, and if so, which, if any, other countries are AZ deniers?

Robyn Carbery, Upper Ferntree Gully, VIC

EDITOR'S NOTE  It's correct that the US government does not officially recognise AstraZeneca. However, the White House recently stated that travellers who can prove they've been fully-vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organisation, including AstraZeneca, will be permitted to enter the US. However, with events surrounding the pandemic and travel changing and evolving so rapidly, it will be vital to seek out the latest regulations imposed by the destination or destinations to which you plan to travel.

HIGH VELOCITY

I successfully used the Velocity Prepaid Wallet on multiple occasions and found it cost effective and convenient. When the card was being discontinued I received several emails notifying me of the fact and explaining what actions I could take. It is hard to understand why your correspondents did not receive the same emails.

Chris Heath, Sunrise Beach, QLD

LOW VELOCITY

After reading an item by Traveller's Michael Gebicki about the free Latitude 28 Degrees MasterCard a couple of years ago, I tried to apply online for one (as also suggested by Lindsay Somerville in Rants & raves, October 16). Unfortunately, because I am "almost retired" and my husband is retired, it appears we are ineligible as we don't meet the income criteria.

Jacky Mccarroll, Foxground, NSW

THEY STARTED IT

Why is Alice Neal, of Glendale, California (Rants & raves, October 16) upset about Aussies using the abbreviation "Frisco"? Americans started it, as the following film titles show Fog over Frisco (Bette Davis, 1934), Hello Frisco Hello (Alice Faye, 1943) and Hell on Frisco Bay (Alan Ladd, 1955).

Ian Smith, Bendigo, VIC

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