Last week, in the longish queue to the scanners at Los Angeles Airport, I noticed people taking off their shoes. I raised my eyebrows to the attractive young immigration officer controlling the crowd. "You born before 1937?" I was asked. Well, I'm certainly in that category. "Over 75, no need to remove your shoes, sir." Wow! A bonus. But as I got closer to the action, she came close to me and whispered: "We find it takes up too much time." Who says American Homeland Security has no sense of humour?

- Roger Marchant

Security overkill

We recently flew from Los Angeles to Melbourne with United Airlines, with a short stopover in Sydney. Before boarding the plane in the US, we experienced a fairly intense security check, removing our shoes, belts, jackets and everything from our pockets before going through the metal detector, then having a full body scan.

On arrival in Sydney, we came straight off the plane to a half-hour queue for another comprehensive security check before returning to the same plane. I wonder what item of threat to security is suspected we may have acquired during our flight from LA.

- Jeremy Grant

Cheesed off with dust off

On a recent Qantas flight from Dallas, US, to Sydney, transit passengers had to go through a security check at Brisbane airport before entering the transit lounge to reboard the aircraft for Sydney. I was asked to undergo an explosives dust check, during which I asked the security officer conducting it why we were undergoing this check as transit passengers. He couldn't give me a reason. Can anyone explain?

During the flight, on a Boeing 747, there was no hot water available for tea and coffee service for economy-class passengers. To its credit, Qantas gave out $10 vouchers to be used in the Brisbane transit lounge. After a 16-hour flight to Brisbane, these inconveniences were admittedly minor, but amateurish.

- Charlyne Lepparde

Service with a smile — or snarl

On a recent trip to the US and Britain, the difference in service between three full-service airlines we flew with became starkly evident. The Qantas flight from Sydney to Los Angeles had excellent cabin crew and the changeover crew from LA to New York was just as good. However, the crew on American Airlines from New York to London was surly, rude and unhelpful. Matched with the food, it made for a never-to-be-repeated experience. Aer Lingus was superior on both legs of our short-haul London- Dublin return flights.

The British Airways flight from London to Sydney was full, yet the cabin crew excelled in its efforts to make every passenger feel comfortable and well provided with food and drinks.

In short, check your code-share carrier before you travel.

- Helen O'Donnell

Christmas lunch in London

My daughter, 29, and I will be arriving in London on Christmas Day. Where may we have a quality traditional lunch in the city? We can spend up to £150 ($226) each.

- Marg McGill

Sweet smell of excess

Smart Traveller (July 14-15) listed the top 10 things that travellers find most offensive, according to a Skyscanner poll. Top of my list is perfume and aftershave, which gets more offensive the longer the trip.

- Ros Barwick

Viva Cuba

It's refreshing to see that even on a $30,000 free trip around the world (From Cuba to the Amazon and Beyond, Traveller, July 14-15), Paul Sheehan can still get in a right jab when commenting on his visit to Cuba ("and we can't help but notice that the communist revolution is falling apart"). Gobsmacking, really, given the sparkling reputation of capitalism in the eurozone and other parts of the world at the moment. But I suppose that from the comfort of a charter flight, one doesn't get to see the various welfare, medical and education benefits this failed revolution has bestowed on its people.

- Norman O'Dowd

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