Traveller Letters: Don't lie down across empty economy seats, warns aeronautical engineer

TRIM REAPER

I am an aeronautical engineer and a former designer of airliners. I am concerned about Michael Gebicki's article in Traveller about upgrades. I am surprised that he suggests passengers travel lying down across a row of three seats. There is no way they can be properly restrained in that position. In the event of a sudden updraught or downdraught, they would become a missile, endangering their own and their fellow passengers' lives. Moreover, several passengers together just switching seats without obtaining permission from the flight attendant could cause a change in aircraft trim, unexpected by the pilot.

Stuart Molony, Mount Martha, Vic

LETTER OF THE WEEK

UBER UNMASKED

There have been many comments recently about Uber being favoured over taxis at Melbourne airport. We used an Uber a few weeks ago (although not from an airport) and we were amazed when the driver (who was not wearing a mask) mentioned in the course of conversation that he was not vaccinated and was proud of it. He did offer to put on a mask, which we accepted. We were perhaps naïve to assume drivers would have to be vaccinated to work with Uber, though I think many people would think that too. The Uber booking system does not have a facility to request a vaccinated driver, or at least as far as I could find. Needless to say, I have not used Uber since.

Bob Minnaert, Northbridge, NSW

SLOWLY DOES IT

I read your article, "The Hidden Valley" (Traveller, January 22) and, as we are staying in Annecy, France, for a week in September, we have decided to take a day trip to hike in the Hidden Valley. It will follow an eight day bike/barge trip in Burgundy where we will sleep on the barge with our own small cabin with ensuite wet room booked through Outdoor Travel. All meals are provided and we cycle during the day and catch up with the barge in the afternoon. As we are in our 70s we have e-bikes which make riding up to 50 kilometres per day relatively easy. This slow way of travelling is very relaxing and we immerse ourselves in the local culture and cuisine.

Merrill Vincent, Longueville, NSW

COVERAGE UNCOVERED

Lee Tulloch's column (Traveller, February 12), "Yes I worry but travelling again is a joy" was a very encouraging read. Many of my friends feel uncertain about making future overseas travel plans so I have referred them to Lee Tulloch's article. Her information makes one feel more comfortable exploring details about different destinations in Europe, especially when reading, "I had travel insurance that covered COVID included in the airfare." One of the barriers to travel at the moment is trying to find an insurance company that offers COVID in their cover. I have heard that the Platinum AMEX card offers it but at a very high price. I would very much appreciate finding out what airline offered the airfare that included COVID insurance.

Barry Stubbs, West Hobart, Tas

EDITOR'S NOTE Lee Tulloch flew with Emirates with travel insurance included in the price of tickets at the time. The deal has since been extended to tickets bought before March 30, 2022.

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BURNING QUESTION

I read Belinda Jacksons' story on the Middle East (Traveller, February 12), with interest, having greatly enjoyed travelling in those parts in the past decade and wishing I had discovered it earlier. Belinda writes of "the smoky tang of burning oud", I have listened to the music of this wonderful instrument many times both in Australia (by the maestro Joseph Tawadros) and overseas but I have never seen - or smelt - it burning. Incense or frankincense maybe ?

Roger Thompson, Bowral, NSW

EDITOR'S NOTE Belinda Jackson informs us that our reader is correct that the oud is an instrument. However, it's also the bark from the agar tree, and burned, like incense, over hot coals all around Arabia, along with frankincense and other natural woods and resins. Oud is now a hot fragrance in the perfume world with those traditional heavy Arabian fragrances oud-based.

SNOW JOB

When Qantas was not flying overseas they changed the checked luggage rules to North America from two bags at 23 kIlograms to one bag at 32 kilograms. So that means your skis, ski boots and all your other luggage have to fit in the one bag. How many people have a bag that can do that? In my opinion it is a con and a trap to charge you for excess baggage.

Their website is confusing as it reads: "If the snow skiing equipment and your checked bags exceed your checked baggage allowance..." That might suggest that your skis are allowed to be in a separate bag. Do not believe it. I checked with customer service (one hour wait) and they confirmed, yes, your skis can be in a separate bag so long as the combined weight is no more than 32 kilograms. When I checked in, they refused to honour the advice and charged me $300 excess baggage one way, even though the combined weight was within the requisite 32 kilogram. Be careful taking skis or a snowboard to North America - Qantas will tell you one thing but do another.

David Walsh, Essendon, Vic

FAILING STAR

I can top Dolly Leropoulos' Jetstar story (Traveller Letters, February 12). On a trip to Cairns a few years ago I received notification of a flight change. Without looking at it too closely initially, I thought it was just a time change for my return flight. Later, on closer inspection, I discovered it was four days later. That's right - four days. Never mind the additional $800 to $1000 accommodation costs and missed work. I booked a Tigerair return flight for $600 and vowed never to fly Jetstar again.

Mark Johnston, Ruse, NSW

My own complaint about an instance of Jetstar injustice (Traveller Letters, February 12) was quickly rectified after dealing with Jess (the chatbot), an agent and finally their airline's esolutions team. I was charged a rebooking fee from Nadi in Fiji to Sydney on December 15 for nine days later, after an unexpected positive COVID result. At that time, the waiting period to enter Australia was 14 days, not seven, so in effect the booking was futile as we would not have been allowed to board the plane. Compounding the problem was imprecise information from Australian government websites neglecting to highlight their daily updates and changes to the rules. Caveat emptor.

Siddiq Buckley, Greenacre, NSW

WIN A SET OF THREE HARDIE GRANT TRAVEL BOOKS

The Letter of the Week writer wins Hardie Grant travel books worth more than $100, including Undiscovered Tasmania by Rochelle & Wally Dare; Emma Shaw's Ultimate Weekends Australia; and Vantastic by Kate Ulman.

See hardiegrant.com

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