Traveller letters: Having 'gold' status with an airline doesn't mean much now

GOLD STATUS MEANS NOTHING

Earlier last month my wife and I travelled to Thailand with a stay in Bangkok and Rayong. Afterwards we were planning to stay with friends in Hua Hin but this was deferred due to concerns about COVID-19. Our flights were with Singapore Airlines which I booked with a codeshare Virgin Australia flight number. I became concerned that when checking our return booking discovered that it had been cancelled. What to do? We couldn't transit through Changi. Phone queues to Virgin were prohibitively expensive due to demand, so I considered the best option was to front up to Bangkok airport and go from there.

At that airport a delightfully helpful Singapore Airlines manager spent at least an hour looking at ways to get us home. She succeeded in securing flights for us on All Nippon Airways via Tokyo, at no extra cost. That's the bouquet. She was magnificent. The brickbats go to Virgin Australia who hit me with an extra $100 a head for flight changes. Shame on you VA, considering you were absolutely no help at all in this situation. And I have Gold status with them. Obviously it doesn't mean much. I have posted a complaint on VA's website but no response. Thank you so much to Singapore Airlines. My wife and I are safely home and enjoying our isolation.

Ian Messner, Turramurra, NSW

SHOW SOME EMPATHY

Ben Groundwater's comment about postponing travel is all well and good (Traveller, March 29) provided your travel specialist shows a little empathy for his clients instead of going into self-preservation mode. Six of us booked safaris to Kenya and Tanzania in August, 2020. My wife and I paid a large deposit for a 17-day safari ($21,000 land only) and paid a large deposit. Now our once-desperate-to-get-our-business agent) is quoting terms and conditions to withhold a refund but may let us reschedule in a year, subject to any surcharges or increase or amendments, plus any balance to be paid in US dollars. I understand agents are under financial pressures like us all currently but how they respond now is a clear insight into their operations. A good result or attitude and most people would rebook with them.

Russ Hall , Essendon, VIC

COME AND WEISSENSEE

The places overseas that I most want to return to once we're able to travel again are the Sculpture Park Wesenberg and Park Residence Bei Wu in Germany. At the end of a glorious two hour drive north of from Berlin, on the outskirts of the picturesque village of Wesenberg, the Sculpture Park and galleries are nestled in the forest on the shores of Weissensee (White Lake). From spring through autumn it becomes an oasis for art and music in nature; a multicultural exchange of creativity between Germany, China and Australia. The annual exhibition opening and music festival has been postponed for 2020, but the website www.sculpture-park-wesenberg.de/ is providing links to many hours of video and music from previous years' celebrations. There is so much beauty and serenity here. It acts as a beacon for discovering calm, inner strength, creative inspiration and a positive outlook towards a new future.

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Patricia Miller, Abbotsford, VIC

HANG IN THERE

I travelled in the mid-70s to London with a company that did "sail 'n fly" deals. We sailed from Fremantle to Singapore then flew to London. My sister and I worked and lived in London for two years and we travelled to Europe for a good part of that time. On my return I worked in my hometown, met my husband, married and we had four children. It was only then with a family, mortgage and one income that I realised that my chances of travelling again were very slim, to the point that I purchased a series of books Time-Life brought out called the "Great Cities of the World". At least that way I could read about the cities and drool over the pictures.

In 1998 with two children at university and in full-time employment,a friend asked me to go to New Zealand with her and I did. Since then I have travelled every year except maybe twice when my husband has been unwell. The point of my story is that no matter how long you have to wait, it's all still there waiting for you. The Eiffel Tower, Egypt's pyramids, London's Hyde Park, I could go on and on. My children have all travelled and worked overseas and I have had some lovely trips with them in their 20s. Hang in there, fellow travellers.

Helen Newton, Wodonga, VIC

ORIGINALE IDEA

Amid the doom and gloom, here is a little tip for when you return to France. When you want to see a movie, but don't feel like guessing the meaning of the words, you can find films in the original language. Look for "version originale" next to the name of the film, (online or on the advertising poster), for an opportunity to watch the movie in its original language. VO films may also have French subtitles, so you can test your knowledge of French, but above all, it makes cinema going much easier.

Margot Pope, Glenbrook, NSW

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