Traveller letters: Cathay Pacific’s star shines bright on service

Steer clear: Brian Macdonald and the intriguing sign. Photo: Brian Macdonald Steer clear: Brian Macdonald and the intriguing sign. Photo: Brian Macdonald

Steer clear: Brian Macdonald and the intriguing sign. Photo: Brian Macdonald


As a long-suffering, weary traveller, I am more inclined to rant than rave. Occasionally, a gem shines forth from the dim depths of the traumatic turmoil of travellers’ tales. We had booked flights with Cathay from Paris to Hong Kong and did not want to wait too long at Hong Kong airport for connecting flights to Hangzhou.

Our flight was due to arrive in HK at 6.45am. The closest flight with their subsidiary, Dragon Air, to Hangzhou left at 8.30am. Concerned it was too tight a connection, I emailed Cathay. To my surprise (I have travelled mostly with Qantas for over 40 years), the airline responded the next day indicating it would not be a problem.

They suggested I email ticket numbers once my booking was secured, so they could put an information sector in my main booking from Paris. Once my booking was confirmed, I emailed Cathay and a day later received a reply stating that the details have been inputed with both bookings crossed-referenced.

It’s that sort of customer service that makes travel a pleasure.


Louise Southerden’s essay The Quiet Australian (Traveller, October 18-19), on savouring the silence when travelling, reminded me of that beautiful quote by Angeles Arrien, “In the sweet territory of silence we touch the mystery.” Bhutan is my place of silence and of mystery. As I landed in Paro I felt a bit like Alice about to enter Wonderland; everything just felt different.

As the days passed, I tried to put my finger on what, exactly, was different, and finally figured it was the people. They are calm, happy, and at peace. They move slowly. They speak quietly. They are gentle. They love fun.

So for those immersed in the rat race, the cacophony that is city life, I guess silent travel can be a bit odd at first. But after a day or so, in my experience, you get hooked. It’s not dull and boring: it’s restorative and allows that rare thing – time for contemplation. I’m with Louise; quiet travel rocks.


My partner and two teenage children spent a week in Oman (Traveller, October 18-19) earlier this year whilst travelling in the region.  Oman is certainly an undiscovered jewel by many Australians and really is the Arabia of your imagination.  Within two hours’ driving of Muscat there are isolated pristine beaches, vast mountain ranges and of course the legendary empty quarter.

Omani people are warm and welcoming and nothing was ever too much trouble.  We have many treasured memories from our time in Oman and would recommend it to anyone thinking of a side trip or a destination in itself, it really is the best-kept secret – but not for much longer!


I was an expedition physician on a ship in the High Arctic in Norway in 2009. The “Polar Plunge” (Traveller, October 18-19), a much sought-after rite of passage for travellers to the polar regions, is not without health risks, including hypothermia and cardiac events. That is why expedition vessels are equipped with gigantic rewarming tubs. I was tasked to be on stand-by with a cardioverter-defibrillator for passengers who suffer an arrhythmia. I advise infirm travellers with heart and lung conditions to weigh up their risk of suffering an adverse event before embarking on the Polar Plunge.


Brian Johnston’s article on the Salzkammergut (Traveller, October 18-19) brought back memories. As the attached picture shows, we felt it might not be wise to venture into this little Austrian village when on a motorcycle tour some years ago. The Australian stickers on the bike would have given us away. In the event, all was well, but the picture was just too good to miss.


The additional deposit after payment or in addition to payment for accommodation is a mystery. Regardless of the presence  of a mini bar and/or the opportunity to buy a bottle or two of overpriced water this sum is debited against one’s credit card for the extent of the stay plus an additional five or six days. Surely within 12 hours of departure it can be determined whether the said room was destroyed, trashed or otherwise made inhabitable.

Michael J. DonohoeCLASS ACT

Daniel Scott’s Flight Test review (Traveller, October 18-19) of the Qantas A380 Los Angeles-to-Sydney flight explained how pleasant cabin crew and a good seat (a given in other classes) make for an enjoyable flight in economy.  For me the upstairs economy cabin is a true delight and Scott was unfortunate not to have had a starboard exit row seat (35K or 35J), the best economy seats on the plane, whereas his seat (35D) is one of the worst.


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