Traveller Letters: Australians looking to fly out need to beware of this

LET ME OUTTA HERE

Thank you to the Traveller team for keeping your readers abreast about international travel in these challenging times. I have just read the article by Craig Platt about Emirates resuming their flights to and from Australia from next week and wanted to make your readers aware of a key restriction which will impact Australians' ability to use this service. Australia is one of very few nations to impose a legal exit ban on their citizens (even New Zealand permits its citizens and residents to exit the country).

An Australian citizen who has been overseas may return to Australia and go into quarantine but an Australian citizen cannot board an international flight from Australia without being granted permission by the Immigration Department and Border Force. There are very few exceptions to this ruling and the application process is onerous.

We are dual citizens and are trying to leave Australia to be with our immediate family in Norway for six months and are still awaiting a reply to our 'permission-to-exit' application. Fortunately we were advised not to buy our tickets before permission was granted but we have heard of others who have bought their tickets, applied for 'permission-to-exit', received a rejection and have had to forfeit all or much of the airfare. People considering international travel over the coming months may benefit from being made aware of this temporary, but nevertheless draconian, restriction.

Ian Conley, Sydney, NSW

GRATITUDE LESS ATTITUDE

The sense of entitlement we in the West have about travel amazes me. Most of the world's population cannot afford to travel, even before COVID-19. My grandparents, who arrived from Europe in the 1930s, could only afford to go back home to family once during their whole lifetime here. Obviously there was no Skype or Zoom, telephoning was too expensive and letters took six weeks to arrive. A bit of gratitude for how good we've had it wouldn't go astray, not to mention giving the planet a break.

Niki Zmak, Maroubra, NSW

WAITING GAME

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Amsterdam Schiphol in the top 10 airports? Well, things must have changed greatly in three years or we were caught in an April Fool's joke in 2017. When we entered a large hall to wait for our passports to be checked, an electronic sign stated that we had an estimated waiting time of 25 minutes. Ten minutes later, the wait time was now 35 minutes. Five minutes later again, 45 minutes. After that, thankfully, I could not see the sign.

We waited well over an hour to get our passports stamped. So long that our luggage had been removed from the carousel and stacked to the side of this hall. So long that the tour company's representative left, thinking that we had missed the plane. Passing through Tullamarine on return home was a complete breeze. Five minutes to go through an e-gate and another five minutes wait for our luggage to appear.

Ian Rosel, Wantirna, VIC

A BIG 'YAY' FOR CATHAY

We should now have been enjoying a seven week trip through Italy. Yesterday we received a 100 per cent refund for our Cathay Pacific business class tickets, the day after we were due to fly out. We still have refunds outstanding with European flights plus a hotel that was prepaid. We have been issued credits for two tours with a company that we will most likely not use, due to travel restrictions and timing. The relief in receiving our money back from Cathay Pacific has been amazing. Thanks also to our Helloworld agent that has been dealing with our bucket list trip, during a dreadfully stressful time for anyone in the travel industry.

Julie Mcfarlane, Ascot Vale

GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY

German Rail was offering "goodwill" to passengers with tickets issued before March 13 for travel before May 4. They could use them flexibly until October 31, 2020 or obtain a three year voucher against future travel. After? No extension of goodwill, no answers to inquiries, no entry to the country, no refund and no voucher for travellers with tickets who were still to travel during late spring and summer 2020. Robbery by train. They make the airlines and their policies look like saints.

J Geddes, Kellyville, NSW

DIRECT APPROACH

I would like to congratulate Qantas for swiftly refunding return Sydney-Perth flights. Qantas contacted me to alert that the flight would be cancelled and that they would refund all money which they promptly did. I had also booked two nights accommodation through Qantas and this was easily cancelled through the member page and money refunded within two days. It seems to me that if you book directly with the carrier you are far better off.

Lynne Egan, Glenbrook NSW

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