First-class economy

By The Flying Pinto

First-class economy

All praise to Singapore Airlines who looked after my 80-year-old-brother on his return flight to Heathrow from Melbourne.

His sight is very poor and he carries a white stick. On entering the plane he asked if there was a step up. When the flight attendant realised he was travelling alone he summoned a colleague who saw him to his seat and kept watch over him.

On reaching Singapore he was escorted onto the next plane, where he was fast-tracked through immigration and taken to the baggage reclaim. They then called over the loud speaker for his son to collect him from arrivals.

All this for an economy passenger. I am grateful to Singapore Airlines for rounding off my brother’s Australian trip in such a pleasant way.

– Brenda Royal


Where there’s no smoke

While travelling with Ryanair last month, I was shocked to see the cabin crew selling ”smokeless cigarettes” for passengers to smoke in flight. When I asked the crew member about them he said: ”I get a commission for each pack I sell and they’re really no more dangerous than alcohol.”

Let’s hope Australia’s budget airlines don’t follow this path.

– Janese Boots

Tiger delays

Like others who have experienced Tiger’s poor on-time performance (Traveller, February 1) I had similar experiences recently when travelling between Melbourne and Sydney. We were 90 minutes late on the outbound flight and 30 minutes late on the return flight.

When I originally booked the flights, the departure time on the return flight was 7pm. This was subsequently changed to 8.45pm.

I get the impression the airline is treated as a ”second-class” citizen by the airport authorities regarding its facilities. I wonder whether this also applies to flight control?

– Kathy Green

Discretion requested

I booked a flight for four family members one-way from Sydney to Melbourne last month. As we were travelling light I bought only 30 kilograms of luggage entitlement (15 kilograms against my ticket and 15 kilograms against my wife’s ticket).

At the airport when checking in, I was charged a $50 check-in fee for my two sons and told I should have checked them in online even though all of us were on the same booking reference. I found this charge to be totally arbitrary. The couple behind me were not charged a check-in fee when only one had bought a luggage entitlement. When I queried this, I was told that the staff on the check-in counter could exercise their discretion in charging, but nobody could explain why they did not exercise their discretion in my case.

– Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar

Life in the slow lane

On a recent return trip from Melbourne to Thailand, flying AirAsia via Kuala Lumpur, it was a slow departure with more than 30 minutes at baggage x-ray and the same again for passport control. On return to Melbourne it took three attempts to line up the steps to disembark from the plane. Almost 90 minutes after landing, my suitcase appeared on the baggage carousel.

I asked the supervisor why it was so slow. ”Because the carousel is choked with uncollected baggage,” he said. When I asked why suitcases weren’t taken off and lined up, there was no response. Compared with Bangkok and Singapore airports, where I am frequently already in my taxi 30 minutes after landing, Tullamarine is Third World.

What is the problem?

– Ian Baker

Going the extra mile

While in the US recently we received a text message from Virgin America at 2.40am alerting us to the cancellation of our flight from JFK to LAX due to ice storms, meaning we would miss our connection to Sydney with V Australia. Virgin America put us on the earliest flight possible and V Australia transferred us to a later flight via Brisbane. We flew premium economy and the service was terrific.

All of this occurred with no fuss and no extra charges, including a Virgin Blue flight from Brisbane to Sydney. It was our first time with V Australia and we will certainly fly with them again.

– Paul Murphy

Sleeping on the job

I flew Thai Airways recently from Melbourne to Bangkok in business class.

Soon after the meal service and after the lights were dimmed, six of the female flight attendants went to the last row of business class behind me, took off their shoes and jackets and wrapped themselves in blankets and fell asleep. Two of them snored loudly. I know that staff need their rest but sleeping on the job in front of customers seems rather unprofessional.

– A. Doraisami

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