FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Surely the traveller who was so dissatisfied with Jetstar (Traveller Letters, April 4-5) should have realised that low-cost flights do not offer food, a simple inquiry would have made this clear. The dissatisfaction seems to stem from the wrong allocation of their seats, and it goes downhill from there. I agree that the airlines should make sure the passengers are acquainted with all the facts but the old adage is the correct one – you get what you pay for.
I just have to take the letter writers who criticise Jetstar services to task, in that they have totally missed the point between premier carriers and the budget carriers. I travel regularly on Jetstar, business class, and cannot fault the service or the meals especially in comparison with the premier carriers' ticket price. Economy flights allow many more people to travel, people who probably would not otherwise be able to, and who can budget then as to whether to buy food in advance or buy on the flight. Many countries now have budget airlines, you get what you pay for and you book it up front, food and luggage etc.
THAIS THAT BIND
A recent flight to Bangkok from Melbourne was salvaged from a health-related holiday-ruining disaster by the efficient Thai Airways staff. My sister, on her first overseas trip and first holiday in 20 years, developed a serious migraine mid-way through the flight, resulting in severe pain and constant vomiting.
Just four minutes from landing, we asked the crew for a wheel chair as my sister couldn't stand, let alone walk. Thinking this would be impossible at short notice, we were surprised to be greeted by a staff member with wheel chair, who promptly whisked the patient to the airport clinic for treatment.
He patiently waited for 45 minutes before transferring us to the departure gate for our next flight, and straight onto the plane before general boarding. At each of the following four flights with Thai on the trip, we were asked at check-in whether a wheel chair was required. Excellent service that avoided my sister losing the first days of her dream holiday.
WARNING: DIP AHEAD
Louise Southerden (Traveller, March 21-22) and readers keen on a refreshing dip should add the Graveneset heritage site in the fabulous Magdalena Fjord, N-W Spitsbergen, Svalbard, to their list. It is 1150 kilometres from the North Pole where the water temperature is barely 3 degrees. Towel down (vigorously – even after a summer or autumn dip) and visually gag at one of the most stunning eight kilometres by five kilometres of bay and fjord vistas on the planet. Hurtigruten's expedition ship MS Fram highly recommended as one way of getting there. Great vessel, great crew.
Mark Darcy (Traveller Letters, April 4-5) complains about his departure from Sydney Airport, but try arriving into the airport in New York where you will experience a truly friendly welcome. Join a two-hour slow queue into immigration with two booths open, then when you come within half an hour of being processed, be greeted by a solidly built broad-shouldered uniformed martinet who not only barks orders but sweeps her arms around to marshal you into appropriate queues. Do not say a word. Do as you are told. The concrete floor is unforgiving, the large free-standing fan is festooned with centuries of dust and the hall is hot.
RULES ARE RULES
A few weeks ago a reader wrote suggesting people support Malaysia Airlines because of the problems they have had during the past 12 months (Traveller Letters, May 28-29). It made my wife and I smile. We have spent more than $50,000 on flights with Malaysia during the past 10 years and when we approached the airline in February this year to change our business class flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur and travel on an earlier flight, a difference of 10 hours, we were told it could be done but would incur an additional €300 a ticket. We advised that as a regular customers we expected Malaysia Airlines to be over helpful to retain regular customers, particularly in view of the adversities the airline has had to endure. But we got nowhere, and were advised these were the company rules. So as you can imagine we won't be favouring Malaysia Airlines in future.
In reference to the letter by Andrew Traill (Traveller Letters, March 21-22), a "stop" may occur while taxiing or arriving at the gate many times, (but may not happen at all). This is when the aircraft comes to a halt, but intends to move again before the passengers can disembark. A "complete stop" is when the aircraft has parked at the gate or remote stand, and shut the engines down, allowing for disembarkation. Yes, it's mangled English and could be phrased better, but that is what the difference is. Passengers must remain belted in, in case the pilot has to jam the brakes on in case of unforeseen circumstances, as can happen on the ground.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We are calling a halt to all further correspondence on this matter.
LETTER OF THE WEEK
Yes, Sandra Martin-Coppard (Traveller Letters, April 11-12), the Yarra is not the Seine and there is no Boulevard Saint-Michel, but can we still keep the Paris end of Collins Street?