Traveller letters: Stressed staff, no service desks, four hours on hold - no winners here, Qantas

CUTTING REMARKS I

After a 12 week wait, Qantas refunded the costs of my US trip. I really felt for the customer service representative I spoke to who was kind but obviously stressed. He told me his team was small and was handling everything except refunds. This included bookings, lost baggage and meal requests. No wonder I waited four hours on hold. He admitted that Qantas had cut the refunds team and they were handling 90,000 applications with roughly 30 completed a day. Alan Joyce, there are no winners here; not the airline, those stressed staff and the unhappy Qantas customers. Makes me shudder further now I hear that all service desks will be shut.

Kieran McGregor, Hawthorn, VIC

CUTTING REMARKS II

No longer competing with Virgin, Qantas was quick to cut back on services. The recent decision to close service desks at airports is a slap in the face to customers. Justified by a "survey." What survey? There is a lack of transparency and a callous disregard for those anxious passengers whose flights are changed. Many older travellers lack confidence and expertise with technology and may not even own an iPad or iPhone. Customer officers are promised.How many? Will they be identifiable? Willing? Qantas may be the Australian airline but where is the fair go?

Susan Moloney, Middle Park, VIC

HOLLER FOR A MARSHALL

Kiama, the coastal town south of Sydney, was bustling when we visited on a Sunday recently: market stalls abounded, cafes were well-patronised and parking was hard to find - as were people wearing masks. Wandering along the main street and through the markets, with absolutely no chance to stay 1.5 metres away from anybody, my husband and I were the only ones I could see wearing masks. We saw one COVID-19 marshall, although I have no idea what he could possibly have done. How disappointing that all those visitors could be so complacent. Don't be surprised if soon, as Sydneysiders, we're banned from shops and cafes in small towns. This has already happened to us on a recent visit to Stroud in NSW. Visitors, please do the right thing.

Kerrie Wehbe, Blacktown, NSW

PURPLE PATCH

I recently went on a very brief escape to Grafton in northern NSW to see the jacaranda trees in bloom. I took the train to Moree, stayed there for one night and then continued by bus to Grafton for two nights before returning to Sydney by train. It was a most enjoyable trip, as it allowed me to glimpse parts of NSW I hadn't seen before and put a face on towns I had only heard of and which, incidentally, pleasantly surprised me. I realise that long bus and train journeys are not everyone's cup of tea, but they can be relaxing. And if you are travelling solo you will, for the time being, have two seats to yourself for that extra bit of comfort. I can certainly recommend exploring NSW by public transport.

Kirsten Walla, Vaucluse, NSW

DUST COVER

I recommend to Anthony Healy (Traveller Letters, November 14) and anyone else interested in outback cameleers, traders and Islam to read the marvellous book Australianama: The South Asian Odyssey in Australia by Samia Khatun. It tells the fascinating stories of these adventurous people from Afghanistan and South East Asia, their interactions with the local Indigenous communities and European settlers and the legacy they have left behind. A great travel companion book for trips to the outback.

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Tmne Blair, Randwick, NSW

RATE EXPECTATIONS

In reply to hotelier Alan Smithee (Traveller Letters, November 7) about people "demanding rooms for unfair and unreasonable rates", perhaps Alan could reflect on the exorbitant room charges that apply to bookings in hotels when demand is high due to special occasions. These include New Year's Eve, holiday weekends and special cultural and sporting events. They certainly "take advantage" of these prime times. It seems he wants the law of supply and demand to be selective in his and his fellow hoteliers favour.

Rod Ralston, Clovelly, NSW

NAME GAME

One can't help but feel for Alan Smithee (Traveller Letters, November 7). After decades of involvement with some of the most troubled movie and television productions, he pivots his way into the path of COVID-19 - which wreaks the kind of career havoc that would have chastened even the most beleaguered director. He really must be wishing he was someone else right about now. (Google "Alan Smithee" if you're not already in on the joke).

Michael McIntosh, Little Bay, NSW

URBAN BUT NOT URBANE

Thank you to those defending hospitality in our rural and remote towns (Traveller Letters, November 7). During a stay in Broken Hill, NSW, I used the laundromat in the town, and started chatting to the worker there. I mentioned that I was born and spent my childhood in Broken Hill. Her response: "I knew you were from the country. City people come in and they don't even say hello, they are so rude."

Sandra Pertot, Diamond Beach, NSW

HIKE SOCIETY

I have enjoyed a few European holidays over the past five to six years during which I was fortunate enough to include walking parts of the various Caminos. The experience of walking has to be one of the most rewarding and relaxing things you can do when trying to wind down from the daily grind, and I haven't mentioned the joy of the scenery or the potential COVID-19 escape. My experiences were made perfect by Wandering the World who are now offering a range of walks around our own wonderful country - there's no better way to substitute my Euro travel than to do the same thing at home.

Paul Soanes, Doncaster, VIC

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