TULLA IS TERMINAL
On our return to Melbourne one evening recently from overseas, where we moved quickly and efficiently through much larger and busier airports than Tullamarine, we were confronted with a quagmire of people and luggage. The queue to reach the lines for immigration snaked for more than 250 metres through the baggage collection carousels. The overworked and under-resourced staff maintained a cheerful and efficient demeanour as they were confronted by so many, mostly accepting passengers. The e-passport system is first class but it struggled to cope when a number of terminals crashed forcing passengers to scramble to extend the lines at the remaining functioning booths. First-time tourists to Australia were bemused and we were embarrassed. Surely a government that spends billions incarcerating asylum-seekers and fighting spurious court cases can improve the welcoming facilities to returning Australians and excited tourists.
George Reed, Wheelers Hill, VIC
NOT THE CABLE GUY
From time to time, articles on San Francisco appear in Traveller and other publications. Getting around usually means cable cars, while Shaky Town's light rail is consistently ignored in favour of its quaint and clunky cable cars. The city has six light rail lines plus a peak hour shuttle. It has 151 trams plus 68 on order. By comparison, there are just 40 cable cars on three lines. What's more, there are also about 300 trolley buses on 15 lines - the largest in the Western Hemisphere after Mexico City.
Ian Grant, Mount Victoria, NSW
Having just returned from a two-week visit to Iran, I can only say how pleasantly surprised we were. The planning by our local travel agency was excellent, the hotel accommodation in Iran was superb, the flights (Emirates economy) okay. But it was the warmth and friendliness of the people that we met on our journey that was the most remarkable. There's no point going to Iran if one is not interested in the history of the country and our guide was extremely well-informed. The Iranian government at times receives bad press but if you stayed away for this reason you would not want to visit many countries which have similar human rights issues. Fortunately, the Iranian people seem to want to reach out to visitors to welcome them, and this starts at the immigration entry gate at Tehran's airport.
Bruce MacKenzie, Kingsville, VIC
I have to compliment Emirates on the care I received on becoming ill on a Paris to Dubai flight recently. Not only did they radio ahead for advice on my condition but two cabin staff were with me throughout the rest of the flight and I was whisked off to the medical centre in the airport for treatment on arrival. You can imagine my gratitude, being an older woman travelling alone, which was only surpassed when I received a phone call at home two days later from one of the cabin staff, to make sure I was okay.
Margaret Adamson, Ashburton, VIC
Jill Dupleix's article on the "art of the souvenir" (Traveller, October 26) reminded me of the fact that we had a family holiday in the US 15 years ago and decided to buy Christmas tree decorations as our souvenirs. Our two now adult children travel as often as they can, so with their contributions and ours, our tree each year reminds us of all these wonderful countries we have been so lucky to visit. They are not all "Christmasy" but vivid reminders of where we've travelled.
Maureen Gunn, Strathmore, VIC
LET THERE BY LIGHT
On a recent Qatar Airways flight from Tbilisi to Doha, I was lucky to have a window seat. I was in seventh heaven. The amazing landscape below was captivating - Google Earth live. No question about it: window shades up, please.
Judy Quintal, Caves Beach, NSW
Susan Lenne (Traveller letters, November 16) has succinctly described the reason for the prices of European rail journeys in her letter. Bomaderry is 150 kilometres from Sydney, and Windermere is 450 kilometres from London. Both journeys took three hours. European countries have invested in fast and efficient train networks, privatised or not, and clearly this service costs money. I would gladly pay more for these convenient and comfortable services, which are so much better than flying. The Australian Government and private sector have clearly decided not to invest in rail networks leading to the transport mess we have in our country today. Overseas visitors must shudder at our lack of regional public transport.
Philip Sewell, Wy Yung, VIC
I too was recently in the UK, Susan Lenne, and ordered a seniors railcard before I arrived. This gave me about a 30 per cent discount on all trips. I don't think comparing UK travel prices to those for NSW is helpful as I'm sure the same distance in India would cost peanuts.
Raphael Lee Cass, Byron Bay, NSW
Denis Gray (Traveller letters, November 21), your letter smacks of envy. Can't afford business class? Typical tall poppy syndrome. So what if your fellow passengers were portly or post-middle age. We are self-funded retirees who worked hard to afford upgraded travel. Not everyone in business class or in a lounge is a businessman, or portly for that matter.
Russ Hall, Essendon, VIC
The recent unscheduled emergency landing of QF171 at a New Zealand military base last month raises some important issues. The absence of immigration and customs officers may well have been a valid reason for preventing disembarkation, however, surely there is a balance to be struck. Being stuck on a locked plane with no air-conditioning for such a length of time contradicts airlines' stock standard response that "the safety and comfort of our customers is our main priority". From a lay perspective, perhaps the passengers could have been allowed off the aircraft under the supervision of sworn officers, either from the military or local police, until the customs officers arrived.
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
Surely the simplest way to stop the loud snorer was for Steve Herzberg (Traveller letters, Nov 23) to wake up the snorer himself if the cabin crew were reluctant. If I had paid for premium economy and could not sleep because of a snorer I certainly would have tapped the passenger on the shoulder and asked politely if they could sleep quietly.
Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield, NSW
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