Traveller Letters: Don't get too excited about vaccine passports just yet

LETTER OF THE WEEK

FAKE NEWS

Following Andrew Morton's letter from Germany (Traveller Letters, September 18), here in France I'm not so confident that the person at the next table in my favourite restaurant is vaccinated at all. The "pass sanitaire", as it's known, is required to enter restaurants and staff check it routinely. However, they don't check the holder's ID. I recently met an anti-vaxxer who was unashamedly using someone else's pass sanitaire in restaurants and I've read that there's also an industry in fake passes. The latest rumour is that even President Macron's pass has been copied. If Australia adopts something similar, watch out for human nature.

Philippa McIntosh, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France (formerly Sydney, NSW)

PUTTING THE "IRE" IN EXPIRE

I, like several of your Traveller Letters correspondents, feel that the Australian passport is fast becoming a luxury good rather than a standard travel document. When considering international travel, one needs to know the expiry date of your passport as most countries require your passport to have at least six months' validity on arrival. Some even require you to have six months' validity at the scheduled departure date. With this in mind in January, 2020, I renewed my passport in anticipation of travel to Spain and Portugal in May, 2020. Of course COVID-19 and the government travel ban intervened in March 2020, preventing any such travel, with the ban continuing to this day. Thus, I have effectively lost two years' of usage of this most expensive document. Whether I will want to travel beyond 2030 (or June 2029) is in the lap of the gods, but I am not expecting the government to give consideration to a free "five-year" passport to reimburse my loss when this one expires.

Michael Hayden, Kiama Downs, NSW

POST HASTE

Spurred on by the reports about expanded wait times for passport renewals, with mine expiring in February 2022, I trotted down to my local post office on September 17 to apply. On September 23, I got an email from Australia Post that it's on it's bike to me, ETA September 30. Sounds good, real good, to me

Michael Helman, St Kilda East, VIC

IT'S A BIT RICH

As detailed in your "Too good to miss" story, (Traveller, September 25), US billionaire Barry Diller has funded Little Island, a floating park and amphitheatre on the Hudson River in New York to the tune of $A358 million, during the city's recent dark times. As a nation, we ape America but what a pity we don't copy their traditions of philanthropy and see Australia's Clives and Ginas save our own arts and cultural institutions in this country before it's too late. Other countries have used this time to ensure visitors will want to come rushing back to enjoy these wonders, new and old, when the time is right.

Kathy Keech, Beaumont, SA

GOD BLESS (AIR) NEW ZEALAND

A big thumbs up to Air New Zealand for consistently excellent service. I needed to cancel my trip in October (travelling to New Zealand on Qantas frequent flyer points) and Air New Zealand contacted me to say I was able to do so and that I qualified for a credit for the full amount of my four booked internal flights with them. Compare this to Qantas and it's "manage my booking" function. I have tried many times online for a couple of weeks now and I'm always told they are busy and they never reply over the phone. I know times are difficult but having been a loyal Qantas frequent flyer for many years I can't understand why their efficiency in dealing with inquiries is so poor.

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Gwenda Fletcher, Rosebud, VIC

HEART BYPASS

Further to the previous letters regarding Airbnb bookings affected by COVID, we have also lost our entire booking amount (less the cleaning fee). Irrespective of the NSW Government's "stay at home orders" for us (as well as the area the property was located in) our Airbnb host refused to refund our booking or even allow us to rebook or reschedule. Despite multiple attempts to find a compromise, our host stated she "had lost too much money due to COVID" and "her decision was final". Frustratingly. Airbnb totally sided with the host, stating that while they had asked the host to address our concerns, the host said "no". To add insult to the wound she is classified as a "superhost". After booking in excess of 10 Airbnb properties around the world I have lost all faith in this platform as there is literally no protection for the customer and you are at the mercy of heartless hosts.

Ben Bradley, Crows Nest, NSW

THOSE WERE THE DAYS

Oh Ben Groundwater, I, too, "Remember when". Weeks ahead of departure, I would compile a list of things I wanted to do at a brand new destination: where to explore, what to eat and be so excited thinking about how it would all eventuate when I arrived. I so, so hope to feel that excitement and anticipation again in the near future.

Sanda Aye, Footscray, VIC

KINDNESS TO A TEA

Years ago when in my 20s, I travelled through lesser-known places to experience life as it was lived in countries so different from my own. These were days when there was no way of checking in with mum and dad as telephone calls were unthinkable and with mail, though usually reliable, didn't arrive until well after you had left a place. Getting ill was something you dealt with and you hoped perhaps another traveller would care enough to offer some assistance. One night in Afghanistan, I was lying desperately ill in my tent behind a hotel in Kandahar, when an old Afghani man raised the flap of my tent and sat beside me. In his hand he held a cup of foul smelling tea and refused to leave my side until I had drunk it all. The next day I was walking around the city. I won't forget the kindness of this stranger or of the people I met there. I will also never forget the shame I feel of this government's incompetence and abandonment of the people who helped Australians.

Hayley Anderson, Balmain, NSW

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