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Traveller Letters: I received priority treatment despite flying economy

Each week Traveller publishes a selection of rants, raves and travel tips from our readers. See below on how you can contribute.

September 29, 2023 — 6.42am

Class act

This 82-year-old checked in at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport for an economy flight to Sydney. On receiving my boarding pass the attendant said go to priority, which is a small area separate from the main passport control and security. There I went, straight through all checks within a matter of minutes, missing all the mayhem of the main areas.

Older travellers at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok are given express treatment.

Older travellers at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok are given express treatment.Credit: iStock

I discovered that all passengers over 70 are sent through the priority system on departing and arriving at the Suvarnabhumi. Well done, Bangkok. Hopefully someday Australia’s major airports will offer the same facility to elderly passengers
Frank Riley, Raleigh, NSW

Letter of the week: Mind your step

Travellers should be careful when exploring the caves on Milos.

Travellers should be careful when exploring the caves on Milos.Credit: Alamy

Your story on the Greek island of Milos (Traveller, September 16) was an interesting article but what a surprise to read about the caves the locals were forced to dig as bomb shelters in World War II. We were in Greece five weeks ago trying to work out the story of the caves and all I can say is watch out for the left turn at the end of the first cave. I didn’t see it and fell down a steep crevice. I instantly knew that I had broken a bone in my arm. Here I was, at the bottom of a crevice, in a cave, at a remote beach on Milos. I hobbled to the car for a ride to the medical clinic but with no X-ray facilities there we were advised to get to the mainland ASAP. Back to our accommodation we went, packed our bags (carry on only, thank goodness) and made the 4pm ferry to Piraeus. At the general hospital of Voula I had two X-rays, manipulation under local anaesthetic only and then my arm set in a cast, all for less than €4 ($6.60). And all for the adventure of travel.
Sue Davies Hampton, Vic

Let us spray

Like Lee Tulloch (Traveller, September 16), I too am a closet bidet user when it comes to washing clothes. For my first Italian trip some 40 years ago, it was a case of either eating or sightseeing but not both and even now, when my budget is higher, I’d rather save my money and buy something to remind myself of the holiday. As they (used to) say – “take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”.
Penny Morris, McMahons Point, NSW

Hung out to dry

In regards to Lee Tulloch’s recent column on saving money in Europe (Traveller, September 16), travellers need to beware of the local culture in different regions of Italy, especially regarding the hanging of washing on balconies and eating in the street when not at a cafe. I had no problems when doing both these things on a recent trip, but that was not the case when I was travelling with my Italian language group in 2017, in Alba, northern Italy. One morning when we had boarded our bus, people who had hung their washing out on their balconies were asked to disembark and remove the offending eyesore before we could leave for the day. Another day, in the suburbs of Turin, we happened to be very hungry and someone wanted to share a pizza. We were all tucking in when our bus driver, in stern Italian, told us to stop eating and not to bring the offending pizza onto his bus – “la bella figura” is still so important to many Italians.
Susan Digby, Geelong, Vic

Wild things

I can endorse Mark Daffey’s article (Traveller, September 16) on the attractions of travelling in remote outback Australia, especially on an Outback Spirit tour. Their four-wheel-drive bus minimises the discomfort of the corrugated roads while their lodges in the bush maximise your comfort in the evening. Seeing our native animals in the wild is a great experience. However, I looked in vain for some recognition in the article that the animals he was seeing in such numbers are feral, and doing great damage to the native environment and animals. Herds of buffalo, pigs and brumbies are not to be celebrated.
Helene Juliff, Ashburton, Vic

Lest we forget

The extract from Penny Watson’s book Wilderness (Traveller, September 16) celebrates the world’s wildest “natural places that have endured despite humanity”. But the romantic western notion of wilderness overlooks the fact that many iconic landscapes are actually the product of long-term management and maintenance by Indigenous peoples. In the central deserts of Australia, for example, areas mapped as “wilderness” are the ancestral homes of many Aboriginal peoples who actively managed the land for tens of thousands of years. And there are approximately 1000 known Aboriginal heritage sites within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Let’s be careful how we use the term wilderness, lest we unintentionally perpetuate a modern version of Terra Nullius.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic

Drum on the Rum

I’m just back from a fabulous trip to Jordan where the disappointment was Wadi Rum (Traveller, September 16). I almost felt guilty for imposing my presence on the once pristine surroundings where there now are 280 campsites, light-polluted skies and plastic debris all around. Well away from the tourist trail may be the only way now to feel the magic there.
Lyn Langtry, East Ryde, NSW

Grave mistake

Highgate Marx the spot.

Highgate Marx the spot.Credit: Alamy

I would like to point out that, contrary to your reader’s letter, the grave of Karl Marx is found in Highgate Cemetery in London, not Hampstead Cemetery. Marx must be turning in his grave.
Joanne Webster, Canberra, ACT
EDITOR’S NOTE: The online version of the reader’s letter in question has been corrected.

Stop the slot rot

Instead of the arguments favouring an increase in landing slots for Qatar, why isn’t there an outcry that we allow so many international aircraft to access Australian airports, yet, with the exception of slots for QF1 and QF2 through Singapore’s Changi Airport, no other nation allows Qantas to access their airports as a stopover point to Europe, the Americas or elsewhere without relying on code sharing? Qantas has no through access from Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or even Auckland. We should restrict foreign airline slots unless reciprocal access is available to Qantas to their airports. This is a dreadful geographical disadvantage for our national carrier which demands consideration.
Mark Berg, Caringbah South, NSW

Tip of the week: Kilt trip

Scotland is a great place to visit, but hotels are more expensive than they used to be.

Scotland is a great place to visit, but hotels are more expensive than they used to be.Credit: Alamy

Scotland is an absolutely fantastic place to visit: highlands, lowlands, kilts, bagpipes, and haggis. It’s really got the lot. But beware when booking your accommodation. Not that long ago I thought I was splashing out a bit when booking hotel rooms if I went as far as $150 to $200 a night. Now, most rooms, whether you’re booking a B&B, guesthouse or hotel, will set you back at least $250, and that’s the absolute bottom of the poor value barrel – small, pokey, no bar fridge, shabby (and not of the “shabby chic” variety) and with no lift. Maybe we should blame the pandemic and the weak Australian dollar but prices are through the roof. Book carefully.
Margot Pope, Lewisham, NSW

Trunk calls

Beware Qatar Airways if your suitcase is smashed, as occurred to mine on a flight with the airline in June. I filled out the required lengthy paperwork online, with documentation and photos, and forwarded it to the listed baggage services. Follow up emails and phone messages over the last three months have gone unanswered and I am left with only a receipt for my claim with no recourse. At least I got my luggage contents back.
Jill Hicks, Burwood, Vic

Dutch treat

If possible, always book the national carrier when departing for another country within Europe. I am in Amsterdam and flying to Hamburg Germany. I have a ticket booked with the Netherlands’ national airline KLM and my boss has a ticket booked with another airline, Eurowings, and we both have paid almost the same price. We both reached the airport about four hours early to return the rental car but the check-in counters don’t open until two hours before departure. Except, that is, for KLM, meaning unlike my boss, I’m able to check-in my luggage, move freely around the airport and pass through security.
Rakesh Sahore, Lindfield, NSW

Not appy

During a recent extended visit to Europe, my NSW driver’s licence expired, so I renewed it online and could show my current digital licence using the Service NSW app. On presentation of this licence at a Europcar desk at an airport, I was advised that only a current valid physical licence was accepted and that digital licences from NSW Australia were specifically not accepted. I was thus refused permission to hire the car. Apart from the obvious problems of being stranded at the airport with no simple means of undertaking the long driving tour that was planned, it also meant I had to argue the case for a refund via Expedia, which initially refused, citing the refusal of Europcar to make the refund to them. I asked my travel agent to check if Europcar accepted NSW digital licences within Australia and the response was that they did not.
David Gibson, Crescent Head, NSW

Fine times

Menton, France: book your train ticket online.

Menton, France: book your train ticket online.Credit: Alamy

On a recent train trip from Nice to Menton, we purchased a ticket from an antiquated machine on the platform. It was the wrong choice and we were fined €50 each. In true French fashion, no explanation was acceptable. My advice is buy tickets online no matter how short the journey.
Merridy O’Donnell, Birchgrove, NSW

Mental over rental

I booked a car online through Expedia, unaware that there were car insurance charges. The booking was for Hertz in Broken Hill, NSW and I paid full insurance charges to Hertz. On receiving my Mastercard statement I realised Expedia had charged me an additional $US77 for insurance. When I complained online many times, they simply cut me off. Their telephone is directed to some unknown entity which means there is no recourse, other than to lodge a card dispute.
Vijay Badhwar, Westleigh, NSW

The Letter of the Week writer wins three Hardie Grant travel books. See

The Tip of the Week writer wins a set of three Lonely Planet travel books. See

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