Traveller letters: It is not 'stupid' to want to look out the window during long haul flights


I rather object to being called "stupid", Mike Weiss (Traveller Letters, August 10). I like to see the blue sky, cloud formations and the world far below. I also like to read in the natural light instead of the harsh overhead light, and I don't like being surrounded by darkness for the whole flight. I am not an infant who needs multiple hours' sleep. What about putting on the eyeshades, Mike, and let us all enjoy the ride?

Jenny Mackenzie, Cheltenham, VIC

The real stupidity is the practice of closing all the blinds and creating an artificial darkness for the duration of a long-haul flight. Opening the blinds has nothing to do with the view – it's about minimising the effect of jetlag. Insist on leaving your blind at least partially up when it's daytime – based on the destination you're flying to – and you'll be helping all the passengers avoid jet-lag.

It's a shame airlines don't promote this, rather than hoping passengers will just sleep the entire flight.

Oliver Descoeudres, Gordon, NSW

Mike Weiss, what utter tosh. As I write, I am  at flight level 240 on QR907 flying over some of the most impressive, albeit drought-plagued land, of north-west NSW en route to Doha.

I admit we pay for premium class but a daytime flight anywhere overland with a window seat is mind-blowing. It could have been the mountains of Oman, the floods of Bangladesh, the bleak expanse of the Russian Steppes. Get geography and the beauty of our planet which we so need to preserve.

John Moore, Braidwood, NSW


I totally disagree with Mike Weiss about there being nothing to see 30,000 feet up. 

My wife and I have enjoyed seeing icebergs while flying Sydney to South Africa, as the flight path dips towards Antarctica; the northern coastline of Africa from Dubai to Casablanca; the land and river patterns from Sydney to Singapore; flying across Africa, India, Balkan countries.

There's actually lots to see  and windows should stay up during daylight hours. If you want to sleep, wear a blindfold.

Kerry Henry, McMahons Point, NSW


With only three days in Istanbul recently I didn't get to all the places in your "One and only" guide, however I agree with all those on your list that I did manage to get to. But I would like to add one that you really should treat yourself to.

It's one lunch and/or one dinner at a "teras" restaurant – that is, a terrace on an upper level, in the old part of the city. For my own teras lunch I had a great view of the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome with its obelisks and the street scene in general.

For my dinner the Aya Sofya was lit up, and I could clearly see the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, together with one of the bridges. It also allowed me time to reflect on the boat tour I'd done the day before.

 The food at Istanbul's teras restaurants is generally very good and not at all expensive in Australian dollars.

Helen Cole, Glen Waverley, VIC


I was enthralled by Traveller's special "Hot [Food] List" edition (Traveller, August 10) on the delights of food all over the globe.

As I sit with a rug over my knees, trying to keep the heating down to avoid a horror power bill, it's comforting to know that I could instead be eating a pizza perched at a floating bar in a Fijian lagoon.

Joan Brown, Orange, NSW


Recent experience of various domestic airports has convinced me there is no attempt to teach announcers to speak clearly and slowly enough to be heard effectively.

Given the ambient noise in waiting areas and the echo effect of the audio equipment, announcements are frequently just rapid-fire gobbledegook.

The key, surely, is to speak more slowly and articulate more clearly. Why is no one taught to do this?

John Keogh, Toorak, VIC


A nice missive, Philip Derham (Traveller Letters, August 10) but I doubt that chance had a lot to play in getting you your surprise Carmen ticket. I suspect you were targeted because you were just plain polite.

We had a similar experience at Disneyland several years ago. We were queued up behind a mass of families in the heat and finally got to the ticket-box after a long wait. I had a chat with the lady in the booth about the weather, and the crowd, and how much the kids had been looking forward to Disneyland – just small talk.

I then said, "Can we please have four two-day tickets, two adults, two children – thank you very much". She looked at me like I was from Mars for engaging, plus saying please and thank you.

She responded: "I had a gentleman here two hours ago that handed in two children's passes for two days. He asked me to give them to a nice family."

All those in front, and she picked us. Manners don't cost anything, and sometimes deliver an unanticipated return.

Peter Reynolds, Gilmore, ACT


Having visited Falmouth, I can vouch for Choak's pasties (Traveller, August 10). However, to describe Falmouth as a "village" seems a little harsh.

It does have, after all, roughly the same population as Goulburn or Grafton, NSW, a working harbour and a full dockyard. Not quite on the scale of Cadgwith or Polperro – actual villages that should be visited when in Cornwall.

Tom Wilson, North Turramurra, NSW


In recent years my wife and I have become regular users of the sorts of overseas holiday packages advertised in your pages and we're generally pleased with their combination of value, convenience and overall travel experience.

At the same time I've become fed up with those deals that quote a "full" package price but then include fine print specifying an additional daily per-person charge for tipping.

A current tour (operating with a 30-person maximum) recommends $6-10 a person a day for the guide and $3-5 a person a day for the driver. Taken literally, the guide and driver in this case could receive $300 and $150 respectively a day in tip money alone. This seems overly generous.

We have encountered situations where travellers are basically coerced into handing over nothing less than the recommended amount whether or not they feel it appropriate or deserved.

Please note I am referring to those tours where the guides are themselves Australians, rather than perhaps more deserving lower paid local employees, and I do concede that I'm the classic Aussie who dislikes the whole tipping culture in the first place.

Tony Gerard, Warragul, VIC

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