I'm writing to see whether other readers have had problems similar to the ones I have experienced in redeeming Qantas frequent-flyer points for business-class travel to Asia (in particular Singapore and Bangkok).
Several months ago Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced that it would be easier. Quite the contrary, it is impossible, especially since Emirates is not an option any more.
Nevertheless, we have tried to book nine to 10 months in advance - no seats available. Instead it offers business-class seats on Jetstar ( for the same number of points as flying Qantas) or other options, such as flying Cathay to Hong Kong and then back to Bangkok, which requires far more points and longer travelling time.
In contrast we booked Singapore airlines business-class seats with points through Velocity and there were hundreds of seats available and very low taxes of only $75 and at the same number of points as Qantas. One wonders whether it is a better option to ditch Qantas and accrue points with Velocity. Shame on you, Qantas.
Neil Mercer, Woolgoolga, NSW
LETTER OF THE WEEK
WHISKER FROM DEATH
Your article on the cats of Ephesus, Turkey (Traveller, January 4) reminded me of a similar encounter some years ago. Tucked away off Via Caio Costco in Rome is the Cimitero Acattalico, also known as the English, or "non-Catholic" cemetery. It's best known as the final resting place of poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
However, the cemetery is also home to scores of cats - all quite alive. They're referred to as "Guardians of the dead" and cared for by a small band of volunteer "cat women and men". There are also some magnificent examples of the stone masons art here with a visit is recommended.
Ross MacPherson, Seaforth, NSW
Michael Copping's letter reminded me of a flight with China Southern back to Sydney. I was placed in the rear-most seat in a 2-4-2 cabin next to a very large man dressed, let us say, casually. In the row ahead on the opposite side of the aisle was his friend in one of those tank tops open to the waist and I thought, uh-oh, bogans on board.
My companion told me to prod him if he ventured over to my side. In conversation, after my seat cushion fell on the floor, I asked him if he'd been on holiday and he said yes, to Nepal. "Mountain trekking?", I asked. "No", he said. "My mates and I have been over there helping rebuild the schools knocked to pieces in the earthquake." These guys were saints and it silently shamed me.
Lance Dover, Pretty Beach, NSW
I was excited to see your cover story (Traveller, January 11) about celebrating nature, a welcome distraction from the uniquely devastating summer Australia is facing. Poor Mother Nature, however, couldn't get a break in your page three editor's note. "Docile", "fickle" and "to be tamed"? Rather than wishing nature to be a docile force, nature is at its best when it is in balance. Fickle suggests a lack of thought - perhaps it's we humans who are fickle. And I nearly spat out my breakfast when I got to the "tamed and respected" line.
Humans cannot tame nature. The taming of the wilds, putting people above nature and seeing nature only as a resource is what has created the current mess. The Stockholm University Resilience Centre has been working to help people around the world reflect on how people and nature can live together. This is what respect means - finding a way for all living creatures to thrive.
The travel industry is the one that suffers first when fires, droughts and storms hit tourist destinations. Perhaps you could run a Traveller edition on travel and global resilience? That might be a genuinely respectful celebration of nature.
Sandra Killick, Glebe, NSW
We were touring in Dordogne in France and had to drive back to Bordeaux to catch a train to take us to Strasbourg. On the drive to Bordeaux we got a puncture in the tyre of our rental car and discovered there was no spare. Avis arranged a tow truck and subsequent taxi to take us to Bordeaux. Unfortunately they came too late to get us to the station to catch our train.
We were forced to organise new train tickets and accommodation. I was told that Avis will pay for this and I even received a claim number. That was in September. Despite numerous emails and telephone calls to France, we still haven't received any compensation. It is very disappointing as we have used Avis whenever we have travelled overseas and I would have hoped that their customer service would be much better than this.
Jeff Lipshutz, Caulfield, Vic
We recently flew from Kathmandu to Delhi and had the good fortune to be seated on the right side of the plane. For a full hour of the nearly two hour flight with our shutters up we enjoyed a magnificent view of the entire Himalayan range with snow-capped mountains poking boldly above the clouds. A truly unforgettable flight.
Julie Di Pietro, Melbourne, Vic
If you want to sleep through snoring (Traveller letters, January 11), as I did when my companion got a cold, take a strip of Blu Tak or similar. You take responsibility for the silence, not the snorer, who is unaware, and put a big plug on your ear hole, as we do when swimming. A small price for sleep compared with noise cancelling headphones, especially if the snores are temporary.
Carol Kennedy, Doncaster, Vic
After a recent hip replacement I flew Qantas to Rockhampton via Brisbane and return. On noticing my walking stick the ground staff gave me amazing help, on both journeys. The flight from Sydney to Brisbane was late and I had no hope of making the connection on my own, but I was whisked away in a chair, through an office area, then an electric vehicle onto the tarmac, and boarded the flight well before time. No patronising, just cheerful help. Thank you very much, Qantas staff.
Barbara Grant, Baulkham Hills, NSW
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