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Letters from travellers: Sydney Airport is a global embarrassment

 A second airport is not necessary for Sydney. One that performs above the level of an international humiliation will suffice. After spending just under seven hours in the air on a recent flight from Singapore, it took me another two hours to leave the current Sydney Airport, starting with a 45-minute wait on the tarmac for a gate to open up.

The e-gate at immigration is the only thing that runs smoothly; however, this speed only allows you to wait longer for your unavoidably damaged luggage before joining the 50-deep queue at one of two exits and waiting to be questioned by a grumpy customs officer before joining the crowds at the sheep yard-style taxi rank. 


In order to be reminded that check-out is at 10.30am, I recently booked a supper bed and breakfast package at a pricey hotel. When will Australia adopt a midday checkout like the majority of the rest of the world? It would make for a much more relaxing stay even if check-in was pushed out to 3 or even 4 o’clock (though if there is enough personnel I doubt this would be necessary).


Your tour of Brighton, England was interesting (Traveller, April 29). Regarding the numerous locations to see and activities to do, there was helpful advise. However, I was perplexed, if not amused, by your writer Rob McFarland’s omission of the Brighton Palace Pier as a must-see attraction. On a sunny day, it makes for a lovely promenade where you can take in the sights of the locals and other sites before finishing with some fish and chips in a paper cone.


I completely agree with Katrina Lobley’s concerns about keeping track of how many nations she has seen (Traveller, May 6), but I would like to add one more: weighing the want to travel more against the desire to go back to areas you have previously loved very much.Still counting.

I concur with Katrina Lobley that a transit does not count when calculating the number of countries visited. But visiting a port while on a cruise also shouldn’t. You had to have spent the night on land, according to my regulation. It can be challenging to count nations that no longer exist. For example, Yugoslavia is now a number of nations, whereas East Germany and West Germany have merged into one country, Germany. So far, I’ve counted over 80, some since 1960 more than once. Wonderful memories all around.


Are you kidding me, in answer to John Sutton’s letter. The hotel breakfast buffet is a buffet, so of course you should take advantage of the morning tea and lunch options. If you don’t, the food will be thrown out. I bring zip lock bags specifically for this use. Consider it merely as enhanced recycling.

Please refrain from encouraging people to save food for later. Given that you paid for breakfast, the hotel is not obligated to provide lunch. You claim that there is a significant amount of food waste at buffets, but what if some hotels have a policy of giving out leftover food to the community? Your position, in my opinion, does not meet the front page standard for behaviour, and I sincerely hope you will rethink it because it sets a poor example for both adults and children.

It is theft to take food from buffets to consume later. A few years back, while staying at the Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, one of the waitresses shocked us by saying the fish would be thrown out. Why couldn’t the personnel receive the food? the waiters, housekeepers, gardeners, housekeepers, chefs, and cooks? It would keep the meals fresh and the low-paid personnel content.

In the Greek islands, I had fond memories of a family-run hotel where the proprietor and cook were glad that I had taken some cheese pie from the breakfast buffet to go for lunch. It is known as hospitality.


I’d appreciate it if you could let your readers know of a bad hotel booking experience I had in Brisbane. As I have done numerous times before, I paid for my online reservation with my Visa card. I was astonished, though, to discover when I looked at my bank statement that I had really been charged for the hotel stay plus a $7 “international exchange fee” by a company in Hong Kong. Throughout the entire online booking process, this was not even mentioned.


The following day, we were scheduled to fly back to Sydney. I commandeered a wheelchair at Darwin Airport and wheeled my wife inside the terminal. I requested a seat change at the Virgin counter (we had selected seats 24A and 24B) so that her trek inside the plane would be as short as possible. Not an issue; we were immediately given seats in row 3, which had significantly more room for legs. The cabin personnel welcomed us into the plane and couldn’t have been more helpful. A wheelchair was prepared for my wife when we departed the aircraft, indicating that the crew had planned ahead for Sydney. Excellent service from all Virgin employees.


I completely concur with Gail White’s assessment of the attractions of New Plymouth, New Zealand. She neglected to mention Papakura Park, which many people see as New Plymouth’s crowning achievement. 52 magnificent hectares of breathtaking bushland, walking trails, maintained gardens, a music bowl, exhibits, and, most notably, the Taranaki Garden Festival at the end of October, are all located right in the centre of the city.

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