Traveller Letters: What happened to the exit row seats, Qantas?

LETTER OF THE WEEK

LEGGING IT

As long-time Qantas travellers, we have been used to buying exit row seats for trips to Britain and Asia. However for 2022, no exit row seats appear during our attempts to book flights to London, Singapore or Bangkok in February, May and August. After a five-hour phone wait at the Qantas call centre, the operator could offer no explanation other than "the seats are blocked for crew rest." Surely not. All other carriers flying these routes offer these seats. Can someone help us to understand what is going on?

Mike and Jenny Copland, Wodonga

NOT APPY

Like most people I look forward to international carefree travel. But it seems you need to be an IT guru nowadays with all the apps and downloading requirements. I am looking to travel to the UK in 2022 but have discovered recently that their NHS Track and Trace and COVID Pass Apps do not recognise international vaccine certificates. If you use the app be prepared to be pinged numerous times and told to self isolate for 10 days if you are a close contact, even if you are vaccinated. Vaccinated UK residents only have to take a test and not self isolate.

Cairan Beard, Brisbane, QLD

WAITING GAME

We booked a lovely organised tour last April (when things started to look normal) with AAT Kings' "Outback adventure Adelaide to Darwin" scheduled to start in August, 2021. Our Flight Centre travel agent booked it for us but we then had to cancel in July as COVID-19 raged and state borders shut. We requested a refund, which was agreed to. Unfortunately, after 16 weeks we are still waiting for it and it is a considerable amount. We complained but nothing has helped. We now can't book any other holiday as we are waiting for our money.

Judy Davies, Rose Bay, NSW

CLEARING THE AIR

I feel I must come to the defence of Airbnbs. I choose them when I stay at least four nights in one place. They allow visitors a window into the lives of locals that is unavailable in other types of accommodation. I have stayed in about a dozen one bedroom apartments since 2014 in Europe, North America, New Zealand and Australia. None has been a disappointment. The secret to selecting a place is in the reviews. Along with the photos, they need to be very carefully interpreted. My most recent stay was in my own suburb while renovating my apartment. It was yet another home away from home with a host who took pride in their accommodation. In 2020 I had to cancel two bookings in Switzerland due to COVID and received a full refund after I explained the Australian Government's restrictions. I will continue to stay in Airbnbs when I begin traveling again.

Janet Jeffreys, Drummoyne, NSW

OLDIE BUT A GOODIE

We were recently out and about on a relatively long trip north of the Hawkesbury, the first in almost six months with a midday Saturday stop off at Kempsey on the NSW Mid North Coast. Exiting the M1 Pacific Motorway we traced the old Pacific Highway into town, passing the Slim Dusty Centre (temporarily closed). Rather than chance a post-lockdown visit to the Golden Arches, we opted to book ahead at the well-established Lou's Cafe Restaurant owned by Lou Kesby. We'd been there before with the fare varied, tasty, fresh and speedily served. The decor includes booth seating with movie posters from eras past adorning the walls. If you are not in a rush then this eatery should be a must on your next visit to the country.

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Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW

SIM TIPS, PLEASE

I'm hoping you and your wide-reading audience may be able to recommend an international prepaid SIM card. We were fans of TravelSIM however they are a casualty of the pandemic. I'm getting ready to depart for Canada, Spain and Scotland next February and we are searching for such a product. Any advice is welcome.

Kathy Cree, Newtown, NSW

SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT

I am a South Coast resident so I was interested to read Anthony Dennis' Review of Cupitt's Estate (Traveller November 20, 2021). The article left me riled. Dennis' derogatory remarks about Ulladulla being an "unprepossessing seaside town" is unwarranted. It is totally unnecessary to negate Ulladulla (Cupitt's official address) in order to highlight the appeal of Milton and Mollymook, or indeed Cupitt's Estate.

Jacqueline Wilkes, Dolphin Point, NSW

GET GOING

If there is a single piece of travel advice I could give anyone it would be: just do it. Years ago, when chatting with a colleague about travel, he said he'll wait until he has retired because if he is going all that way, he would want the time to "do it all'. I have travelled a lot and have learned you can never do it all. If someone says, "let's go to…" or if an opportunity presents itself, just go, or you may in the end miss out on going anywhere.

Liane Simpson, Oatley, NSW

LET'S SHAKE ON IT

In response to Ian Rosel (Traveller Letters, November 20) about his group travel experience and the assistance given by the tour company after a "shaker" in Christchurch in December, 2010, it should be noted that the only one in 2010 was on September 4 that year. The big one hit on February 22, 2011. Perhaps Ian was referring to the two earthquakes on December 23, 2011, but they were not followed eight weeks later by "the devastating one" as quoted.

Adrian Brown, Pascoe Vale, VIC

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

With the virus causing many tour problems, it's good that some companies remain. Celebrating 40 years, Owen Johnstone-Donnet of St James Rail with his wife Takako Ishige must be one of Australia's best operators. As I rediscovered on a recent eight day northwest NSW Armidale, Inverell and Narrabri rail/coach tour, their planning is superb. Takako prepared flavoursome lunches on board NSW TrainLink's Northern Tablelands Express rail cars. Short bushwalks, treasures like Bingara's art deco Roxy Theatre and lunch at Pilliga Pottery were highlights. Using a TrainLink unlimited travel first class "Discovery Pass" from Melbourne, adding $88 for a sleeping berth each way, made connecting at Sydney Central easy. No wonder St James Rail's local and overseas rail tours are often fully booked.

Edmund Carew, Windsor, VIC

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