Traveller Letters: Despite COVID-19, people are still behaving stupidly on planes

FLYING UNMASKED

Much has been written about the pros and cons of flying domestically at the moment. I, very reluctantly, had to fly to Brisbane from Newcastle recently and found the experience unnerving, infuriating and fascinating in equal measure.

To Jetstar's credit, its "Fly Well" packs including face mask and hand sanitiser were welcome. Why then, did less than 10 per cent of the passengers elect to use them?

The many regular intercom messages thanking passengers for their courtesy and patience was also a nice PR touch.

When we landed, the cabin manager requested three times for passengers not to leave their seats until the row in front had left theirs. How many complied to this simple instruction? About the same 10 per cent that wore the face masks.

C'mon people, think! Five minutes further sitting isn't going to change your life but it could save it. Wearing a mask for 70 minutes isn't great, but neither is 14 days isolation. The airlines are doing their best - it is now up to all of us to do the right thing.

Tony Bennett, Broke, NSW

WHALE OF A TIME

We recently travelled on a (very clean and uncrowded) train from the Blue Mountains for an enjoyable mini-break in Sydney. We stayed in the Amora Hotel where the rate was very reasonable and we received an unasked-for upgrade to a large room with views. The staff were friendly and helpful. During the day we went on a whale watching cruise with Go Whale Watching Sydney.

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At  the wharf, we were initially concerned at the number of other people waiting for the cruise. Not to worry though, we were spread over three boats so there was plenty of room. The cruise was spectacular. We had whales swimming around the boats for over an hour, breaching and slapping their tails and fins. Soon, even the most world-weary adults joined in the cheering and laughing.

We also saw seals, dolphins and a sea eagle. It was a fabulous trip and I highly recommend it. There are plenty of businesses suffering from the lack of international tourists. Your readers should consider supporting them, rather than lamenting lost opportunities to travel overseas.

Jackie Allen, Faulconbridge, NSW

LET ME GO

I have accepted a job in Spain with the contract starting in October. In order to travel from Australia I have applied for two federal government exemptions and have heard nothing. It is mentally draining and extremely stressful. I want to leave the country, this entire process is much harder than it should be. Does the government have so little trust in the population that voted for it?

Protecting the population is one thing, but not allowing citizens to leave is another. Should I be forced to stay in Australia, I face unemployment and forgoing a job opportunity I have been preparing for over a year, it is an amazing opportunity. This is a long term move - I don't plan on a quick return, pandemic or not, I am prepared for this outcome.

Border Force are not responding to any enquiries and this is adding to the stress and anxiety that I am experiencing. I understand that there is a global pandemic, but I am not a child and I understand the implications. The Department of Home Affairs and Border Force are doing a great deal of harm with this policy. Let me leave.

Katharine Spencer, Mordialloc, VIC

STAY WHERE YOU ARE

To Stewart Cameron of Queensland (Traveller Letters, July 11) who insists we should be allowed to travel at this time because we are adults. The virus doesn't care.You neglect to acknowledge that a large number of cases are asymptomatic, infecting up to three other people without ever knowing. One or more of those you infect may die, or have lifelong complications from COVID-19. We just don't know at this stage. Please be compassionate and stay put.

Suzanne Evas, Geelong, VIC

Yes, Stewart Cameron, we are all adults, however, your cry for freedom needs to be tempered by the sobering reality of the global situation currently existing. As I write, John Hopkins University has the world's total confirmed cases at 12.4 million and a staggering 558,683 deaths across 188 countries. In a different world I would have enjoyed a holiday in April in Florida, now a state with record cases. The issue of the hotel quarantine breaches is not the reason I can't travel overseas. People itching to go back to the world we used to know may not have committed a crime, however, until a vaccine is available we all need to exercise patience, the risks are far too high!

Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW

Go Stewart Cameron and see how long you last overseas, especially in Europe, without catching COVID-19. You are lucky your state has controlled the virus for now, but the Victorian and world situation shows how easily it can spread with complacent attitudes such as yours. And don't expect to come running back home once infected.

Philip Sewell, Wy Yung, VIC

DISPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA I

Andrew with his "aborted takeoff" (Traveller Letters, July 18) is sad and disappointed with Qantas. Join the club, though for me there are too many reasons to list. The latest was a return trip from San Francisco that left 24 hours later than scheduled, meaning I had to quarantine on return for two weeks. The reply was basically "sorry for the inconvenience, these things happen". United Airlines, on the other hand, gave me 15,000 miles for a simple spill of wine. Qantas could learn a thing or two, but with minimal competition don't need to and probably won't.

Paul Ness, Mentone, VIC

DISPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA II

After 30 years of loyalty to Qantas I feel very let down by the disgraceful delay in obtaining a refund for cancelled travel plans forced by COVID-19. After 15 weeks, still no cash refund. Flight Centre blames Qantas. Apparently the claim is approved but not paid. What's the holdup? We paid in full in November-December. It's reflecting very badly on Qantas.

Dennis Payne, Mount Eliza, VIC

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