Traveller letters: Seated next to two obese people on a flight, I was left with half a seat

ANYONE FOR SQUASH?

I recently took a domestic Delta flight in the US and the plane was full. I was assigned an aisle seat in a row of three. When I boarded, the window and the middle seat were occupied; he was very large, and she was larger. As a result, I was left with half a seat for the four hour flight.

To compound this, every time the cabin crew passed, they bounced off my shoulder. As the flight was full, an alternative seat was not an option.

As passenger numbers and sizes continue to grow, airlines need to come to a decision on how this can be handled. Unless airlines significantly increase seat size (which they will not), my suggestion would be that armrests remain down; if someone cannot fit within that space, then they must buy two seats.

Neil Hendy, Barden Ridge, NSW

GOING WITH THE FLOE

Thanks to David McGonigal for his cover story on Antarctica (Traveller, November 23) as exactly 12 months ago to the day we had just stepped off the Ocean Nova, returning to Ushuaia, after 10 fantastic days in Antarctica. The Ocean Nova is not a luxury ship but extremely comfortable. We were too busy once we hit the ice shelf to bother about other luxuries such as pools and spas and choices of restaurants. Each Zodiac landing lasted a minimum of four hours and we did that twice a day. I wished it could have been more. For me, the biggest luxury was being on a ship with only 68 other passengers where we were all guaranteed to get off the ship and into Zodiacs for each and every landing. We were simply too busy to even have bothered with other luxuries. The downside is that a ship this size is not as stable as larger ships and the effects of seasickness became apparent very quickly when the Drake Passage was churning. Still, with appropriate medication this was minimised and sea legs were developed for the return trip.

Vicki Copping, Oatley, NSW

GIVE THEM A BREAK

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Tips about getting the best exchange rate on card purchases are welcome (Traveller letters, November 16) but when travelling in countries where haggling is the norm we have a policy of not doing for small purchases from individual traders. Several years ago, in the beautiful covered market in Damascus, an elderly shoe-shine man spent ages cleaning a pair of our dirty walking shoes. We did not know how much he asked for as we don't speak Arabic but we gave him the equivalent of $5, knowing it was far more than he would have charged. Fifteen minutes later he had packed up and gone for the day. How wonderful it was to give someone a holiday.

Heather Barker, Albert Park, VIC

NOT SO (BREAK)FAST

It's all very well for Stephen Cross (Traveller letters, November 23) to suggest that those who had previously written to Traveller expressing ambivalence about hotel bain-marie breakfasts should "… seek out a suitable cafe or eatery ... that offers quality breakfast options and live like locals do". The ability to do so is in fact very much dependent on the culture and lifestyle of the place you are visiting. If we had attempted to do it during our most recent travels, we would have found ourselves eating a "breakfast set" of oddly fluffy white bread with boiled egg (Japan) or nothing at all, with Tbilisi (Georgia) living proof that Georgians are not morning people and that their society does not have a tradition of eating outside the home. Anyone else every tried to get more than churros and a coffee for brekky in Spain? And not everyone wants the full Irish when travelling in Ireland. I am also ambivalent about bain-maries but acknowledge they can be necessary if you want to start your day of site-seeing adequately fuelled up.

Justine Sloane-Lees, Yarraville, VIC

RANTS & RANTS

What is wrong with the Traveller letters?  Recently, we've had a complaint about a snoring passenger, someone who is offended that Australian people have tattoos and dare to go to local beaches, and another shaming fellow travellers for discussing their experiences at airport lounges, and thinking they're smart for pointing out one gentleman's fly was low. Where is the benefit to readers of any of these published letters?

Ian Little, Dulwich Hill, NSW

SET IN STONE

Brian Johnston's article, (Traveller, November 16) albeit compiled from a rushed, half-day visit to Cordoba, Spain, mentions finding the statue of the Jewish philosopher,Maimonedes. But he missed two other significant statues. They are of the Islamic philosopher Averroes, judge at both Cordoba and Seville, who was banished for heresy in 1195, and taught in Paris, and that of Seneca the Younger, philosopher and Roman statesman, and tutor to the young Nero. Certainly, together with Maimonides, a small Disagreement of Philosophers, but a significant Cordoban triad.

Anthony Healy, Willoughby East, NSW

RIGHT ON TRACK

Thank you, Tim Richards for your article "The Beautiful South" (Traveller, November 16). What a fantastic experience we also had earlier this year travelling north to south on the three panoramic trains and Interislander ferry trips offered by The Great Train Journeys of New Zealand. The Northern Explorer train runs from Auckland to Wellington and features open farmlands, volcanic mountains and forests. The Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton is a wonderful ride through Queen Charlotte sound and connects with the absolutely spectacular Coastal Pacific train to Christchurch. From there, we travelled return in one day on the jaw dropping, scenic Tranzalpine train through snow-capped mountains and glacial rivers to Greymouth. We did all this with our rail enthusiast, disabled uncle who is on a walking frame. Incredibly, the journey was very reasonable, especially as we booked direct with Great Journeys of New Zealand. It is easy to break the trips, too, and stop off along the way to soak up the wonderful New Zealand hospitality and scenery. The secret is out.

Colleen Langron, Berowra Heights, NSW

WHAT'S THE POINT?

Tried using Qantas reward points lately? To fly to Europe via Dubai from Melbourne you must first get to Sydney – via Hobart, Adelaide or Brisbane. But if you fly out of Sydney you'll have to get to Melbourne first – via Hobart, Adelaide or Brisbane. And if you don't use the first leg, your ticket is cancelled. Qantas obviously does not want us to fly Emirates to Europe. Its points are easy to get – but getting harder to use.

Alan Thomas, Surrey Hills, VIC


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