Do I hold the record wait for unpaid Qantas refunds? I cancelled my return flight from Dallas in late April. When I phoned Qantas in July I was assured that I would get my refund by mid-September. Nothing. In early November I was promised I would get an email the next day and a refund within two weeks. It's now seven months and I'm still waiting. Can anyone beat that?
John Ward, Fairlight, NSW
DO THE LIGHT THING
Don't give up on hunting down the northern lights, Rhoda Silber (Traveller Letters November 28). My son and I travelled to Norway at the end of January this year and saw the lights not once, but three times. It was an unusually mild winter in Norway so our nightly sojourns into the mountains around Tromso were bearable. One has to be patient but it was well worth the wait. Despite being a woeful photographer, my photos were spectacular.
Christine Tiley, Nana Glen, NSW
DO THE LIGHT THING II
In February 2020, we went on a cruise from London to Honningsvag in northern Norway. We were disappointed in what we saw as the Northern Lights were like wispy white clouds in the clear night sky. However, when photographed using a DSLR camera on a long shutter setting (25-30 seconds), the greens of the Aurora were visible, just not to the naked eye. At least we could keep our photos as evidence that we had seen the Aurora. Further research suggested that 2020 was a year of low solar activity, a rating of one to two out of 10, apparently for good viewing using the naked eye, the solar activity rating needs to be greater than five. Whilst not being able to truly see the Aurora, we did have a splendid time and very much appreciated Norway and the cruise.
Geoff Lindsay, Thurgoona, NSW
How about we remind people to book directly with the hotel within Australia so other overseas sites, which pay no taxes in Australia don't take a huge commission? We all need to help each other during this time. If a rate is advertised more cheaply, it's because hoteliers cannot show a lower price but if you email or phone we will always beat it.
Steven De Marchi & Justin Golightly, Empyre Hotel, Castlemaine, VIC
SCALES OF INJUSTICE
The letter regarding the Melbourne pet hotel with a 20 kilogram companion animal weight limit (Traveller Letters November 28) is full-on discrimination. We travelled in our caravan up north in the Victorian winter and found similar rules, though I think the rules are relaxing more. We have a retired greyhound, who, at 36 kilograms,is friendly, doesn't bark and sleeps a lot.
Peter Evans, Apollo Bay, VIC
My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a staycation in Sydney. We had been booked to go to Queenstown. Instead, we stayed at the Park Hyatt for three nights and had a wonderful time eating out and wandering around the Botanic Gardens, Rocks, Kirribilli for jacaranda spotting and over the Harbour Bridge. We live in Sydney but seem to rarely venture into the city. Our favourite meals were at China Doll and the Public Dining Room in Balmoral. We even had a brush with fame when we met Sasha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher at the Park Hyatt swimming pool
Julie Lynch, Oyster Bay, NSW
BORDERING ON DESPAIR
Two days after I booked a much-needed holiday to South Australia, the state had a COVID-19 outbreak. Naturally, Queensland closed its border with Virgin, in turn, cancelling its flights from Gold Coast to Adelaide, so the holiday was off. Through Flight Centre, Virgin credited my fare so I could use it later. Hertz refunded the car hire. Cover-More even refunded the unused domestic policy cost. I asked the accommodation provider about a refund or credit for a possible future visit. I was redirected to the online agent, HomeAway, which gave me a lovely auto-generated acknowledgement of my cancellation with the emphasis on the clause that because I was within their 30 day limit, a refund could not be processed. No mention of any possible credit. Do I want special treatment? Of course I do. The landlord has done absolutely nothing to earn my $780. He probably didn't get time to sweep the floor. He'll be getting his servants to upgrade to black caviar while I'll be downgrading to home brand bread and tomato sauce for my devon sandwiches. I couldn't predict the COVID-19 outbreak and it is simply unfair to assume I'm a time-waster who changed his mind. The landlord and/or HomeAway should know I can't get insurance cover for COVID-19 related costs. Now I am reluctant to travel domestically at all.
Jim Andrews, Ballina, NSW
SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN
In response to "Bleat This", (Traveller Letters November 28), when you know you're getting a genuine good deal in an impoverished country, from a local, and you can afford it, how about offering more as a matter of course as you've already factored it into your budget? It may mean the difference between eating and not eating for the person whose good-value offering you have enjoyed. As to paying big bucks in expensive countries, it's a case of buyer beware, surely? I guess I could be the recipient of brickbats should you print this, but I've just watched For Sama, the documentary recorded in the last days of the battle for Aleppo. Small children, their stunned and bloodied faces and bodies grey from the rubble clouds of exploded concrete buildings, bring their bombed and dying or dead siblings to the hospital. How insignificant and petty, privileged travellers' complaints seem in the wake of the fearful suffering throughout the world.
Sandra Kirby, Morisset Park, NSW
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