I recently returned to Sydney from Singapore in business class with Qantas. The crew were very excited as we were the first passengers on the Airbus 330-300 since its refurbishment. My partner and I were situated in the middle row seats 5E and 5Fand we discovered there was an immovable partition between us which prevented us from talking during the flight home which was quite upsetting. I am mystified by the reason for this as normally these seats have a moveable privacy screen so what has happened, Qantas?
Although the flight left Singapore at 8pm, the only food available was a snack, no dinner, which I felt was unacceptable for a Business Class flight.
LETTER OF THE WEEK
I recently flew Malaysian Airways, which has a terrible time of late. I flew business from Denpasar to Kuala Lumpur, and then economy to Bangkok. The service was professional, smart and efficient. One staff told me they have low morale and need support because many citizens of Asian countries won't fly with them. He said staff are worried about their future. I flew them, they were great, and you need to fly them too! Please support them.
Catherine Burrows (Traveller Letters, March 7-8) must be joking in saying that she expects Sydney Airport Corporation to spend money fixing the toilets at Kingsford-Smith's international terminal. That would result in the airport's millions of dollars profit being short the few dollars needed for the plumber's bill.
Catherine Burrows' letter regarding the shocking state of Sydney International Airport's toilets on two separate occasions serves to remind us all of what a run-down dump this airport terminal building continues to be.
For years this facility has been slammed by reviewers as one of the worst value for money capital city airports on the mainland. Air Traveller Rating and Review Agency Skytrax respondents give this old world patchwork quilt an average rating of a whole 2.5 stars. Nothing short of a complete embarrassment by international standards.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Traveller recently had a similarly poor experience at Sydney Airport with the floor in a men's toilet prior to immigration covered in the fetid contents of a spilled duty-free alcohol purchase and as well as an overflowing urinal. There was no indication of how to report the state of the facilities.
My wife and I recently had a holiday in Raratonga, Cook Islands, to celebrate her significant birthday. A wonderful holiday destination. We flew direct to Raratonga with Air New Zealand and being a five-hour flight we paid an extra $40 per seat for the "works" service in economy. I must say the value for this package can be best described as marginal. As we flew home to Sydney via Auckland we decided to save our $40 for the "works" package and eat during our stopover in Auckland Airport (I love those NZ beef pies). The flight was three hours' duration and I was seated next to a lovely Canadian couple who had the "works " package. I enjoyed watching them having their meal. After two hours flying and after the "works package" people were served, I was offered a glass of water or a cup of coffee/tea. Now I know the airlines are doing it tough but not providing a pack of motel style biscuits with my coffee is taking cost cutting to a new level.
I always have a silent giggle and a wry smile almost every time an aircraft lands and the flight service director gives the arrival talk ("welcome to ... the local time is ..." etc). The talk invariably ends with advice to keep your seat belt securely fastened until the plane comes to a "complete stop" and the captain turns off the seat belt sign. Could someone please inform me as to the meaning of "complete stop"? In my view something is either moving or it is stopped. There is no degree about it. When an aircraft is "stopped" it is "completely stopped". Most airlines say "completely stopped" and I just wonder why they insist on murdering the English language in this way. I am more than happy to be enlightened.
Last week's letter of the week reminded me of the time my sister and I were on a bus tour of Europe. Before booking we were told that it was expected to tip the driver and tour guide a certain percentage at the end of the tour. Both driver and guide did an admirable job and we were most happy to give the full tip. However the evening before the last day the fellow Australians on the tour gathered together to ask if we could all put our tips together and thereby give a group tip that would require us to give less. We advised them that we had already prepared our tips for the full amount and would not be joining them. I was very disappointed at my fellow Australians parsimonious ways and was very embarrassed to be one of them.
Eric & Joan Hansen
RIGHT ON TRACK
Sometime last year in Traveller I read a recommendation to use the French SNCF site (en.voyages-sncf.com/en/) rather than the Australian agents to book train travel in France. I'd like to thank whoever made the recommendation having just saved roughly $170 on two tickets – $85 as opposed to $255 for two seniors in a group of four – on the TGV from Paris to Bordeaux.