Ah, the joys of code sharing. We booked a business class flight with Emirates through Qantas from Barcelona to Melbourne via Dubai with the aim of sleeping on the 15-hour-plus night-time flight from Dubai.
Unfortunately, and despite the best efforts of the cabin crew over more than an hour, and with advice from the ground, my seat stubbornly remained at the takeoff and landing position.
It was a packed flight so no alternate seat and no sleep. Despite the senior flight attendant advising that Emirates would be in touch and look after me properly, I had to file a written complaint which was forwarded to Qantas customer care.
Unsurprisingly, Qantas' response was to "regret the inconvenience of a seat that did not recline fully" and give me a token handful of points.
I am sorry but a seat that does not recline at all for at least 15 hours is more than a mere inconvenience and amounts to less than is offered from an economy seat with a price differential of many times a token handful of points.
Graham Devries, Camberwell, VIC
LETTER OF THE WEEK
GEORGIA ON OUR MINDS
As ardent travellers who are always looking for new destinations that are not on the "tourist trail" we are often asked what is our favourite destination. I can now finally say that we have found that destination.
We embarked on our trip of a lifetime to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica. We set out on Quark Expedition's small-sized ship, the Ocean Diamond, from Ushuaia, Argentina – when we started looking at the options we had in mind a ship with no more than 100 passengers, the Ocean Diamond had accommodation for 180 passengers.
As it turned out the extra numbers were not a problem, as the crew had the process of disembarking down to a fine art. Boarding the Zodiacs for shore trips and Zodiac cruising went smoothly.
The expedition was a photographer's paradise – ranging from colonies of several hundred thousand penguins to the sheer majesty of the icebergs and not to mention the humpback and minke whales, who both put on an amazing displays.
It's not for the faint-hearted as we had to cross Drake's Passage with winds up to 50 knots.
Andrew Whitton, Abbotsford, NSW
I've noticed a trend among hotel porters in many four-star hotels where I recently stayed in France, Austria and other parts of Europe.
After lugging my suitcase up three or four steps to the hotel foyer, a porter would rush over to take over the easy part – sliding my four-wheeled suitcase to the counter, towards the lift and then to my room, where the expectation is a generous tip.
It seems that porters no longer stand outside hotel front doors or watch out for arrivals. Mostly, I would decline their services but some would still follow me to my room, again expecting a tip.
Am happy to tip for good service, but not when I have had to do the heaviest part.
Marilyn Miller, Point Lonsdale, VIC
DO NOT DISTURB
During flights I'd appreciate airline cabin crew not waking up seated passengers with disruptive announcements to "return to your seat as we are experiencing turbulence", if the turbulence is expected to be minor and brief.
On Air New Zealand services a bright note flashes across the seatback screen, which only disappears after the passenger touches away the "Got It" acknowledgment symbol.
Air New Zealand's "silent touch" approach is infinitely preferable to the irritation of innumerable such announcements being made in three languages (Korean, English, Mandarin) on long-haul flights we've recently taken to Europe and North America from Incheon on Korean Air.
Joseph Ting, Carina, QLD
INNS AND OUTS
Ron Thomas (Traveller Letters, February 2) is right in his appeal for hotels returning to the basics with service and facilities.
But he overlooks the most glaring of all oversights: the shower recess and bathroom. It doesn't matter if it is a two-star or six-star hotel I have yet to find a hand grip in the shower for assisting getting into the bath.
They just don't register with the designers. When I mention this fact to reception their eyes glaze over and then suggest I could have asked for a disabled room.
One doesn't have to be elderly to slip on a wet floor or stepping out of the bath.
Anthony Buckley, Point Clare, NSW
I have a tried and true recipe for the idiosyncratic bed-making of modern hotels and motels.
I always pack a small, light synthetic throw to provide a bit of warmth when a doona is too much but a sheet is too little, a multi-purpose length of floral seersucker for when there's only one sheet and a half-size pillow for when what is supplied is too thick, too thin, too hard or too soft.
I cut my chosen pillow type in half and recover it so that it fits readily into my case but still supports my neck adequately. This sounds like a lot of extra stuff to carry but I put it in last, press down hard and never fail to fit it into even my smallest suitcase.
Hazel Davidson, Chapel Hill, QLD
I cannot believe Ron Thomas' complaints about hotels, I am a frequent traveller to many quality International hotels.
I am so glad they have a top sheet underneath the doona, it is obviously mainly for hygiene reasons as many people sleep naked, and it also saves the doona cover being washed as frequently as the sheet.
If it is hot, strip off the doona and keep the air-con on low, and if it is cold there is usually spare bedding in the closet or a simple request will see that you have an extra blanket.
Yes, the LED lighting can be annoying with so many of them, but I turn the clock to the wall or even use an eye mask from the plane.
The curtains have never been a problem as there is often a blind as well and in some cases a remote control blind which you can use from the comfort of your bed. And what sort of quality hotel doesn't have double glazing?
Come on, lighten up. I always have a good sleep especially knowing someone else can make up the bed in the morning and then I can see what the next day brings.
Paula Watson, Holgate, NSW
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