Traveller letters: Why aren't lockers in plane cabins allocated?

SPACE INVADERS

Why can't airlines mark the locker spaces with the corresponding seat numbers - 23A, 23B, 23C - and the like?  Then the customer has first dibs on the locker space allocated to their seat. If they have too much baggage, they will have to find space elsewhere, unless others in their locker have smaller items and their baggage can fit. 

It is very annoying and frustrating to find the space you expect to be able to put your items in has been taken, and to have to scramble for some other locker space in a cramped and busy aisle. It is an extra squeeze if the flight attendant comes to help you!

Marianne Delroy, Adelaide, SA

LETTER OF THE WEEK: FIELD OF DREAMS

In February my husband and I visited Russell Falls in Tasmania's Mt. Field National Park. You can climb to the top of these falls – the path is steep but manageable – and, after a few more metres, find yourself at the Horseshoe Falls, set in a gorgeous grotto.

You have to see them to appreciate them; photographs simply do not do them justice. While both falls are small when compared to Niagara and Victoria, I found the experience deeply spiritual and every bit as humbling. And all right on our doorstep.

Pamela Wallbridge, Vermont South, VIC

GRATUITIES ADVICE

Terry Durack (Traveller, March 7) suggests the going rate in the US for tipping a porter is $5 a bag. I would suggest $2 is nearer the mark. If each new guest had one bag each, porters would be raking it in for about three minutes work.

Neale Meagher, Malvern, VIC

EDITOR'S NOTE The reality may lie somewhere between Terry Durack's estimate and our reader's and that fact more and more US hotels in recent years have reduced their porter services in an effort to encourage guests to transfer their luggage to and from their rooms.

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GUIDING PRINCIPLES

It is wonderful for you Steve James (Traveller letters, February 29), that you can enjoy "your" style and type of travel, but I think it far from "sad" that Brian Johnston in his cover story, "A guided tour of the guided tour" (Traveller, February 15) outlined myriad tour options for people who may have different needs, wants and desires. That same world we all travel in comprises a rich tapestry of people and diversity, and I think Brian celebrated that in his cover story.

Leonie Hall, Sunshine, VIC

FEELING FLUSH I

Fascinating that Philip Rich (Traveller letters, February 22) can afford to travel from Geelong to Norway and back and complain about a $4 toilet charge. People outside Norway may think $4 is outrageous but that is not the point. The price of services are based on local costs. It may be outrageous to foreigners, but if you live in Norway that is par for the course.

Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield, NSW

FEELING FLUSH II

Oliver Markwirth's letter (Traveller letters, February 22) lists reasons in defence of paying a fee to use public toilets. One of these is "It is a strong measure against homeless people camping out in the stalls".

The vast majority of homeless people do not choose to be homeless. They are people who have lost jobs, been victims of domestic violence or youth thrown out of home. If they had access to safe, secure housing they wouldn't choose to take shelter in a public toilet. He also favours charging a fee to dissuade "men of ill-repute looking for action at the urinals and in toilet stalls". This statement is simply homophobic and has no place in Traveller.

Robyn Kennedy, Pyrmont, NSW

FEELING FLUSH III

The recent letters complaining about paying for the use of toilets when travelling reminded me of an incident a couple of years ago when travelling through Myanmar.

One evening our bus stopped at a roadside diner, and of course we all fled to the toilets. A local woman ahead of me went to do her business but immediately returned, retching, and disappeared. When it came to my turn I tentatively went in, mouth breathing against the stench, trying to select the least wet, littered squat to do my business.

It was eye-watering but I had no choice. Heading towards the outside communal wash area afterwards I turned to the sound of soft giggling to see a line of the local women skirts up, doing their business behind a row of bushes. No, I have no problem paying the equivalent of a few dollars to make sure the toilets are clean. And I do now wear a skirt when I travel throughout Asia.

Jennifer Bennell, Pascoe Vale, VIC

FEELING FLUSH IV

I'm a professional tour guide and travel quite a bit. Why don't all hotels provide loo brushes?

Jane Mathews, Paddington, NSW

CHALLENGE NOT CHALLENGED

With reference to the "Enable the Disabled" by Michael Lee (Traveller letters, February 15), I concur completely. I am a C5:C6 incomplete quadriplegic and use a power wheelchair after an accident more than four years ago. We have had similar experiences with hotels and now we contact a hotel before we leave and make sure they understand what I need. We have made three overseas trips over the last three years: 100 days around the world, a month in South Africa and two months in the south of France. It's been a challenge but doable.

Elizabeth Love, Eleebana, NSW

HERE WE GO AGAIN

There has been much written in Traveller letters on the subject of continental quilts in hotels (so much so, the editor called a halt). I raise the issue again but on a different level: Doonas, air-conditioning and environmental impact. Travelling in Thailand recently, I once again found that Doonas were ubiquitous, as is invariably the case globally.

A Thai friend explained to me that "Thai people love their Doonas and air-conditioning". I and others take the Doona from its cover and use it as a sheet, but imagine the flow-on effect if hotels in warmer climes and warmer seasons provided a sheet and a light blanket. With air-conditioning turned off, the emissions reduction, so badly needed, would be significant.

Helen Rainger, Goulburn, NSW

EGO IS A DIRTY WORD

I admired the wonderful shot of Mount Rushmore and the magnificent carvings of the heads of the four greatest American presidents (Traveller, March 7). I'm just wondering if Donald Trump has his eye on the rock-face on the left for his own memorial sculpture?

John B Quinn, Avoca , VIC

TRAVELLER ASKS

What are your  favourite public transport routes around the world? Write to us and we'll publish the best responses.

TIP OF THE WEEK: SIMPLY RED

For ₤4 the best value for money tour of London is the 159 London bus to Streatham Station that begins at Marble Arch. Get on at the first stop, directly opposite Marble Arch Primark in Bond Street and secure an upstairs seat for the view.

The bus meanders down Regents Street, around the Eros statue at Piccadilly Circus, past the four guardian lions of Trafalgar, along Pall Mall, over the Westminster Bridge, past Lambeth's Imperial War Museum, skirting Kennington's The Oval, down Brixton Hill Road, through Brixton shopping strip and into Streatham.

Stay on the bus until it arrives at the station. Then walk across Streatham Common and into the no-fee traditional walled English garden where there is also no-fee toilet beside the little café. If there is time, take a walk through the micro-forest before returning to Streatham Station to take the bus back to Marble Arch.

Debra Phillips, Wollstonecraft, NSW

TRAVEL AGENT

Thank you, Steve McKenna, for taking us around the world in James Bond's footsteps (Traveller on Sunday, March 8). You brought back magical memories of our visit to Piz Gloria, where the skiers whistled the Bond theme in the lifts ascending the stunning Schilthorn mountain, as well as our New Year's Eve lunch in Le Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower (although we did not order the Bollinger 75).

Rhoda Silber, Manly, NSW

LOST AND FOUND DEPARTMENT

One of my best stories about arriving in foreign land revolves around the unbelievable kindness of strangers. Reaching Taiwan's International Airport I caught the wrong bus and ended up on the wrong side of the city.

Not realising this, I asked for directions to my hotel. One of those who tried to help, and spoke little English, bought me another ticket and, refusing payment, found the right train and on reaching the right station walked with me to my hotel, came to reception to make sure I was OK and disappeared. It was almost dark when we reached my hotel. With street signs in Chinese, uneven pavement, and with no map, my gratitude remains endless.

Jeanne James, Seaford, VIC

ALL THE WAY WITH THE US OF A

As a precautionary measure, given the increasing spread of the COVID-19 threat, I thought it best to check with our travel insurer, NIB Travel, regarding the possibility of cancelling our upcoming May trip to the US.  

I was surprised to hear that "government intervention" is excluded from all their travel insurance policies. Their representative went on to say specifically that if (a) the US government barred Australians from entering the country, or (b) the Commonwealth [of Australia] advised not to travel to the US, because of the coronavirus, either event would not be covered by their travel policies.

I strongly recommend your readers check with their insurers the scope of their travel insurance coverage.

Gabriel Lee, West Pennant Hills, NSW

BREATH OF FRESH EIRE

There has been a lot of panic about travel and the coronavirus but when you are in your mid 60s, with health issues, we decided it was too risky  to leave for a three month holiday to visit multiple countries in Europe.

Apart from the disappointment, this has cost us a lot  in cancellation fees . How uplifting for us to receive a reply, from Dream Ireland Holiday Homes saying that they would hold our non-refundable deposit, as a gesture, on credit for a future stay. Unexpected but much appreciated.

Carol Southwell, Turramurra, NSW

STATUS ANXIETY

With so much airline travel, leisure and business, now being cancelled or simply not taken up due to coronavirus, frequent flyer members will struggle to maintain their tier status. It would be a generous gesture of goodwill  if the airlines were to freeze everyone's current status for another year.

Brian Lucas, North Sydney, NSW

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