Traveller Letters: Want to book a flight using credits? Good luck

LETTER OF THE WEEK

YOU WOULDN'T CREDIT IT

Good luck to anyone attempting to book flights with Qantas using flight credits. When our March 2020 flight to Japan was cancelled, we attempted to book flights to Western Australia and the Northern Territory using the flight credit. The first booking was successful but the balance was not made available on that day so we paid separately for the other two. Then the borders closed. In November we attempted to book the same flights for 2022 but couldn't use multiple credits for a flight. Qantas eventually issued a "Pass" that could be used but it was for $2309 less than had been paid for the cancelled flights. I've now spent eight hours on two phone calls to customer care. Four emails followed by two formal complaints have been acknowledged but nothing else.

Dan Dempsey, Oatley, NSW

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Fancy Ben Groundwater claiming, in his Queensland story (Traveller, December 18), that Queensland had the first female premier, when old folks like me know Carmen Lawrence of Western Australia was the first female state leader.

Jeremy Wheeler, Templestowe, VIC

EDITOR'S NOTE Carmen Lawrence was indeed Australia's first female premier but she attained the role through an internal party leadership change in 1990. As Ben Groundwater pointed out, Anna Bligh was the first woman to be elected premier in 2007.

BY THE BOOK

One day I decided whatever destination I opened my travel book to, that's where I was going to go. It opened to India, even though I hadn't eaten Indian food for a decade because the last time it upset my tummy. I booked my trip and one week later, on new year's day, I started my adventure in New Delhi, travelling through to Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur, Mumbai and eventually Goa. I've since travelled to each corner of our globe but this still remains the best trip of my life: the culture, the people, the food, the scenery and the unknown - not knowing what was going to happen each day.

Minh Nguyen, Armadale, Vic

LESTE, WE FORGET

In his story (Traveller, December 11) on the best places to visit in our region, Ben Groundwater urges us to get to know our neighbours. Such a pity then he fails to mention one of our closest, namely East Timor. With the planet's most biodiverse tropical reefs and the only place in the world where you can swim with blue whales, East Timor is a safe, friendly and beautiful country. It has a rich Indigenous and Portuguese colonial history and its mountains were a significant fighting ground for our soldiers in World War II. With Qantas starting direct flights from Sydney to Dili and with no quarantine requirements, I urge Ben to visit East Timor and experience such a wonderful country that sits right on our doorstep.

Simon Benedict, Kensington, Vic

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TAIWAN EASE

May I add another country to Ben Groundwater's "Neighbourhood watch" story? Taiwan offers so much for the traveller. Like its big cranky brother China, Taiwan is not open to foreign travellers at the moment but when it does open up, go for it. Start with the modern metropolis of Taipei with its restaurants, night markets and shopping. Throughout the country there are many excellent museums, galleries and temples. Visit the very tall Taipei 101 and marvel at its engineering features, incorporated to counter Taiwan's many earthquakes and its efforts to be carbon neutral. Taiwan has an Indigenous population and visiting the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park showed me the many similarities with our own Indigenous people. There are some fine beaches on the east coast. I went surfing at Douli, the Crescent Head of Taiwan. You will find many stunning national parks with great walks. Try climbing Mount Yushan (Jade Mountain) in the beautiful Yushan National Park. There is a vibrant coffee culture, the Taiwanese take their coffee seriously and there are many independent coffee shops

Ron Brown, Wallsend. NSW

DISEMBARKING MAD

How difficult would it be for airlines to require passengers to remain seated until they are called by rows to disembark, rather than crowding in the centre aisle, encouraging COVID transmission?

Lis Haddy, North Balwyn, Vic

SHORT AND SWEET

Your Sydney story (Traveller, December 3) proved timely during my own three day staycation birthday weekend. We enjoyed reading it in our room on Level 25 at the Shangri-la Hotel Sydney. Our own theme was "food, luxury and hip bars". Along with visiting some places mentioned by your writers, here are a few of our other favourites: Sammy's in the Rocks - the coolest cocktail bar based on the Rat Pack era; the Menzies Bar on the ground floor of Shell House; Blu Baron level 36 of our hotel; and Machiavelli Ristorante for the best old world Italian experience. What a joy it was to take a mini-vacation close to home and rediscover our magical city.

Rhoda Silber, Manly, NSW

SILENCE, PLEASE

Thanks, John Kruger, for your informative letter (Traveller Letters, December 18). I'm sure all the passengers who have waited impatiently behind you are happy to know that you have learned your lesson. It is hoped that those who are inclined to chatter and hold up others will take your advice.

Jill Phillips, Newstead, Qld

NOT THE ONLY FRUIT

A pity your writer, Rob McFarland, in his guide to Orange, NSW, missed an opportunity to experience the stylish Art Deco Oriana Motel in Woodward Street. This motel (with a past) has been given a huge make-over, with its owners cleverly retaining what made it interesting and adding the Bela Vista Bar and the Peacock Dining Room. We've been lucky enough to stay several times whilst working in Orange, and can highly recommend it, especially pre-dinner cocktails in the Bela Vista Bar!

Maggy Todd, Rosebank, NSW

TRACKS WINDING BACK

My friend is an Australian citizen from Italy's Porto Santo Stefano (Traveller Letters, December 11) and I've been there a dozen times in the last 20 years. It's a marina town with a vibrant boat building and service industry adjacent to Isola del Giglio (yep, the one that guy crashed the ocean liner into). Orbetello is linked to the commune of Monte Argentario by a narrow isthmus or tombolo, much like Palm Beach in Sydney. My friend's house is between Pozzarello and PSS, across the road from a cliff face that falls to the Mediterranean. There's a goat track that leads down to the beach with a small taverna open in summertime. An old railway tunnel built by the Nazis connects to PSS town centre to the east and Pozzarello to the west. It is dotted with ziggurat staircases that open up onto the main road above. In 2017 I recorded an album with my band, Karma County, in my friend's house with The Magnolia Orchestra, three Italian friends with whom I have toured for many years over there. Four days of tracking, many bottles of prosecco, cooking and eating al fresco every night (the album, by the way, is Short & Sweet Breva e Dolce).

Brendan Gallagher, Tamarama, NSW

SOMEWHERE TO LOVE

In regards to your recent article about the late Freddie Mercury (Traveller, November 27), in his hometown of Zanzibar, Tanzania, we stayed in a stone guest house in the laneways, not wide enough for cars, where you could easily be lost. Visiting the local produce market, the meat and the fish were sold fresh. Boys played soccer in the passageway outside the guest house door. Women in headscarves walked with their shopping, entered houses guarded by large intricately carved doors depicting the business of the house owners. Also remarkable were the mosque, the slave market and the outdoor night market near the colonial House of Wonders. Stone Town was a strange place full of ghosts.

Michael Copping, Oatley, NSW

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