On the subject of long-haul flights (Traveller letters, October 1) and jet lag, an ex-Qantas steward friend of mine explained why we seem to suffer so much more these days. In days gone by, when smokers were allowed on flights, the air in the cabin was a lot cleaner and had a greater percentage of oxygen.
Why? Because the visible smoke pollution forced the airlines to change the air on a regular basis. These days, with no visible pollution from smoking, airlines fly on what is called "half pack".
They don't change the air as regularly, as it costs money to bring fresh subzero air in from outside and heat it to cabin temperature. By the time you reach your destination the percentage of carbon dioxide in the cabin from breathing is much higher than it should be.
Ironic, isn't it? The air was cleaner when smokers were on board.
Bill Young, Greenwich, NSW
LETTER OF THE WEEK
I attended Question Time at Parliament House Canberra recently. The behaviour of our pollies was appalling but what was worse was the complete disorganisation that all visitors (including international delegations) face there.
Parliament House is a beautiful building but it's let down by a lack of signage and simple streamlined procedures. To get into Question Time one queues at the cloakroom for pre-booked tickets (lucky you should you pick the right queue) then queue again to cloak all belongings.
Then you queue to go through scanners and afterwards you queue for the cloakroom again with just one staff member servicing the huge cloakroom queues.
If you plan to visit Canberra for Question Time, allow a lot of time.
Tatiana Podmore, Cremorne, NSW
PAIN IN SPAIN
I really have to get this off my chest.
In May this year, my husband and I spent three weeks in southern Spain visiting the wonderful cities of Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga. I sent postcards from each of them to family and friends in Australia and New Zealand.
My mother who has no internet always eagerly expects my postcards to keep track of our travels. Over four months later not one of these postcards has arrived! Is there something one should know about the Spanish postal service?
Has anyone else had this experience?
Jane Jilek, Castlecrag, NSW
On our return Virgin Australia flight recently from Bali departing at 10.10pm one would have hoped to be comfortable during the night. However, no blankets, no pillows, no ginger beer, no cheese and biscuits really made us feel that we were in economy. Eight out of 10 items on the menu card were unavailable.
To add insult to injury, the flight attendant informed my husband that only one immigration card was required for a family. Upon approaching immigration I was informed that I would have to complete a form and queue up again.
Janet Gardner, Pyrmont, NSW
We recently travelled on Virgin Airlines from Broome to Perth in economy then from Perth to Melbourne in business class. In all our many years of travel, I would have to say that the Boeing 777 seats were definitely the most uncomfortable seats I have ever sat in for two hours and 40 minutes, which felt like an eternity.
They looked great but whoever designed them should be punished by having to sit in them. On the other hand, our trip from Perth to Melbourne, was the exact opposite.
The A330, business class, was superb. We have never had such a comfortable, easy to operate business class seat/bed and Virgin are to be complimented on this. The service on both flights was exemplary.
Bette Pulver, Caulfield, VIC
Further to Julian Vyner's letter (Traveller letters, October 1), I shouldn't blame travel card theft on the lack of security of the individual card but rather on the destination in which you use it.
I used my Commonwealth Bank travel card while holidaying in Bali in April (mainly to withdraw cash from the ATM). While I was in Venice in June I realised that all my euros and New Zealand and Australian dollars had been withdrawn over successive withdrawals on June 6 – all from a Balinese ATM.
I immediately rang the Commonwealth Bank and they took a look, confirmed my suspicions and assured me that all my funds and transaction fees would be credited to my account within 14 working days, which they were.
Jilly Campbell, Isle of Capri, QLD
Nowadays we read a lot about how hard it is for we oldies to obtain travel insurance at a reasonable cost for the young at heart who want to travel and have ski holidays.
We have just had very pleasant dealings with Southern Cross Travel Insurance – firstly helping us go through the "online" booking process and then, when we unfortunately had to "make a claim" (when I became ill) and all bookings, airfares, accommodation and cruise had to be cancelled.
As requested by SCTI, we enclosed all hospital, doctors and rehab reports when posting off our claim and within a very short time all monies claimed were paid into our bank account along with a lovely email from Katie wishing me a speedy recovery.
If they will have us again we will definitely book with Southern Cross Travel Insurance for peace of mind.
Moire Berman, Manly, NSW
DON'T MINTS WORDS
I disagree with the recent letters regarding "surly" immigration staff at Australian airports. Returning from a short trip to Singapore last week through Sydney Airport customs and immigration, everyone I greeted with a smile and "Hello, how are you?" was happy to respond in a similar manner.
No mints on the counter, as in Singapore, though, but eye contact, smiles and some words in response.
Marjie Williamson, Blaxland, NSW