SINO OF THE TIMES
Pre-COVID-19, we booked a flight on the Qantas website using points with China Eastern. The flight was Sydney to Prague via Shanghai, returning via Xian and Shanghai. The flight over was straightforward. On the return flight, we landed in Xi'an, expecting to transit but found out this wasn't the case and we needed a visa for China, which we didn't have.
A frightening hour was spent on our own in the terminal where very little English was spoken. We were interrogated on why we had visited every country listed in our passport, with no one answering any of our questions. We also had a guard with us. Eventually we were finger-printed, photographed and given a day visa and we then departed for Shanghai.
However, because that flight was domestic, we had to collect our bags, queue-up, check our bags in again and go through Chinese customs just to get back on our flight. Not good enough Qantas.
Barry Frost, Cherrybrook, NSW
In reference to your recent reader letter about Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs ("DFAT Chance", Traveller, June 5) circumstances do alter cases. I have lived for many years in Iquitos, on the banks of the Amazon River in Peru. A few years back, a young Australian man was here and his situation was desperate. DFAT, through the Australian Embassy in Lima, could not have done more to help, solving a difficult situation to help the young man and his mother return home. Thank you and well done, DFAT and the Australian Embassy, Lima.
Father John Andersen, Iquitos, Peru
PASS THE PARCEL
The stories I hear about DFAT reflect my own situation. With the lack of uncertainty in China surrounding COVID-19, I was told my 18-year-old Australian passport-holding son would be required to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks in Beijing on return from the US. I called the Australian Embassy to discuss the alternatives but received a recorded message saying they would get back to me. Later that day I left a longer message with more detail, again seeking help, but received the same non-response. I called again the next day and tried a new approach but I was then diverted to the same message system, with again no response.
Once my son arrived at the airport, he spent eight hours being processed and tested (negative) at the exhibition centre. No family were allowed and he was allocated a hotel for two weeks, with no visitors allowed. Ultimately, we were lucky to have a relative with an empty apartment where he could quarantine. Through the local inspectors, due to his age, we obtained approval to have him sent there under supervision, but still with no contact. The slight difference was that we could at least pass parcels to him.
Stephen Wood, Beijing, China
LOCKED, STOCK AND BARREL
Greece, Cyprus and other European countries are reopening for tourists but Australians remain locked up behind the Morrison Government's iron curtain. NZ citizens travel freely.
Chris Smith, Kingston, ACT
A PLUS FOR QF
We all have stories in the COVID-19 world such as cancelled holidays and lengthy waiting times for refunds or credit vouchers. The industry has been hard hit and even the print editions of Traveller have been in hibernation. So, despite having agreed in early April to provide a refund after initially sending a credit voucher, a refund to my credit card finally appeared on June 12. Thank you Qantas.
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
I am an avid reader of your website, Traveller.com.au and while I did enjoy the article "Places to go in 2021" one point did concern me. At the end of the section on Israel, you have suggested that people may want to "consider their support" on the basis that there may be some form of annexation. While I understand that you may want to warn people of any potential civil unrest in any destination that you recommend, I do think considering some sort of withholding of support or boycott on the basis of a complex political matter is unhelpful and you may want to consider rewording that last sentence.
Daniel Houseman, Caulfield North, VIC
BACK WHERE IT BELONGS
I was so happy when I saw the Traveller masthead back in print on Saturdays a little squeal of delight slipped out.
Debra Crookshanks, Seaforth, NSW
I'd like to give a plug for Cathay Pacific and Southern Cross Travel Insurance. Both companies gave my wife and I a 100 per cent refund on a trip planned for April this year to Zurich, Switzerland. Both arrangements were made direct and no accommodation booked as we were to stay with relatives. Naturally enough, we won't hesitate to use both companies again.
Ted Richards, Valentine, NSW
I am one of the lucky ones who has had most money paid (only in January) for a trip to New Zealand now refunded by my travel agent, Adelaide based King William Travel. Yet $950 has been withheld, because, I am told, Qantas has refused to refund the flight component of the trip.
Ewa Haire, Moonee Ponds, VIC
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