Traveller Letters: I had proof of a negative COVID test, but airline still rejected me

PATIENCE TESTED

With the announcement of the opening of international borders it's important that governments do their part by helping provide usable COVID-19 PCR tests for travellers which are required as a condition to fly. With a planned trip from Melbourne to France, I went to a government COVID testing site to do a PCR test last week.

At the site, I was informed that the result could only be sent by text message and not by email. When I was checking in to my flight, the airline refused to accept the negative test result shown in my text message.

This meant I had to run around the airport in great stress to have an urgent test done at the airport clinic for a cost of $150. COVID testing must be costing governments a fortune, so I don't see why they can't provide the option of receiving results by email so they can be used by international travellers. This would also take the pressure off our overworked doctors and medical professionals who will otherwise have to arrange tests for the surge in international travellers. Please make it a little easier for travellers and for our medical staff.

Simon Benedict, Kensington, VIC

Editor's note: You can find out more about getting a PCR test for travel in our article here.

LETTER OF THE WEEK

EYE KANDY

On my last visit to Sri Lanka two years ago, my Sri Lankan daughter-in-law took me on a tour of the stunning northern tea plantations, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Ella. Then we headed back down south to Hikkaduwa to stay with my three small grandsons in the beautiful home my son built them a few years ago, with its tropical garden overlooking a river lined with coconut trees. A little further south to Galle we all regularly visited the 16th century Galle Fort with its quaint cobble-stoned walkways, finishing up at their favourite cafe, Pedlar, famous for its mouth-watering chocolate brownies. Sri Lanka is opening up again to tourists. I can't wait to book my ticket.

Gloria Meltzer, Chewton, VIC

LATIN LOVER

While I wholeheartedly agree with the inclusion of Tierra del Fuego in your "Coasts with the most" story (Traveller, October 2), as a tour operator to Latin America since 1975, I think you've overlooked the best option for cruising this gorgeous region. Australis Cruises is a Chilean-owned company operating small ship cruises between Ushuaia, Argentina and Punta Arenas in Chile. With capacity for just 200 passengers and exclusive landing rights at many locations, this is without a doubt the best way to experience the region whilst supporting domestic tourism.

Heather Poppelier, West Melbourne, VIC

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CALIFORNIA SCREAMING

Ugh. As someone who lives in California, please never refer to San Francisco as "Frisco" (Traveller Letters, October 2).

Alice Neal, Glendale, California

SCOOT NO HOOT

I was due to return to Melbourne from Singapore in mid-July after living abroad for many years. My flight was booked a month in advance with Scoot Airlines. As with all travel plans, disruption is never far away. The Australian government reduced the intake of returning Australians by 50 per cent as a necessary measure to manage COVID-19. Despite having two weeks to manage customer expectations, Scoot cancelled my ticket without contacting me. I only discovered the ticket was withdrawn when I called Scoot to explain I was having difficulty completing an online COVID health declaration. Scoot offered a full refund with $150 voucher compensation, but it has been over 11 weeks with no refund. I've been advised that a refund takes 15 weeks, and all email correspondence and telephone calls with Scoot's appointed "customer experience" agents have largely been dismissive. The Australian Government requested Australia-bound airlines not take advantage of Australians returning home during COVID-19. Scoot Airlines and their agents are not adhering to this. The only way to get home was to buy a business class ticket with Singapore Airlines ($4500 one way) in late September.

Michael Prouse, North Balwyn, VIC

LOW VELOCITY

Thank you Patricia Hausmann (Traveller Letters, October 2). I read your letter and was horrified to find that Velocity had done the same to me, converting all my foreign currencies into Australian dollars at poor exchange rates and then charging me a weekly inactivity fee. So far it has cost me over $1700, all without notifying me. Did these people learn nothing from the royal commission into banking? It almost seems that they decided to sneak this in while none of us were travelling and thus not checking our wallets. I had an ANZ Travel Card, and they gave me plenty of warning that they planned to close the card and I was able to close the account in an orderly fashion. Anyone with a Velocity Wallet better check their account immediately.

Don Murray, Beecroft, NSW

PLASTIC FANTASTIC

Why bother trying to guess how much money you need overseas when you can have a free Latitude 28 degrees Mastercard or similar? You get up to 55 interest free days with no fees and foreign exchange is calculated on the day of purchase. Why buy a Global Wallet or equivalent in advance and then have huge fees gouged for no service, as Patricia Hausmann painfully discovered?

Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield, NSW

THE WEST OF TIMES, THE BEST OF TIMES

The announcement by Qantas that flights to and from Perth and the east coast would be suspended, effectively put paid to a long-planned visit to the West at the end of November. Less than 36 hours after the announcement a late night email arrived with the subject line: "We've had to make some changes to your booking…" with the changes being, "we've had to cancel your flight". Payment was originally made with Qantas Frequent Flyer points and to its credit (no pun intended), the 101-year-old airline didn't waste any time in processing the refund. The email advising that my points had been refunded arrived four days later. Given the delays encountered in the early months of the pandemic, this service from Qantas is exceptional.

Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW

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