BA, HUMBUG

Sometimes you're not sure whether to laugh or cry about travel horror stories. I gasped when my mother told me of her experience boarding a British Airways flight from London to Sydney, when she asked a member of the cabin crew if she could help her put her small (correctly sized) case in the overhead locker. The short answer she got was, "Can't you do it yourself?" My mum is 88.

Miranda Corkin

LETTER OF THE WEEK

We recently spent eight days driving and walking in New Zealand's Otago and Southland. Had an odd feeling that something wasn't quite "right": soon realised that there was literally no litter. After that, we actively looked for it everywhere we could but only noted one stray soft drink can in the middle of a road. Is there something different about the people in that part of New Zealand? Their Scottish ancestry? Here you can't go for 100 metres without noticing our lack of respect for others and the environment.

-Chris O'Rourke

RULE OF BRUM

I am not sure why Birmingham, Britain's second city, was left off the map indicating the train route (Traveller, January 18) when other less important cities were included. A gross oversight. Birmingham, my home town, is an international commercial centre which for accuracy when drawing a map of the British Isles should have been included. This would be the equivalent of leaving Melbourne off a map of Australia.

Sue Hunt

INSURE, FOR SURE

I am glad Michael Considine's illness in Dubai was so quickly and effectively treated (Traveller Letters, January 25). However I found his griping of the out-of-pocket expenses and conclusion: "fall ill with something very expensive" hard to stomach. No Michael, the moral is to: understand our Medicare and private health funds have agreements with Australian medical service providers; compare travel insurers and pay the premium for a policy with the lowest excess you are prepared to bear; and be grateful so much of your otherwise wonderful holiday was in good health. Not everyone is as fortunate!

Catherine Bradford

Although some may complain about the value provided by travel insurance, sometimes it can have non-financial benefits. When my daughter became ill in America, we went to a hospital emergency room. After checking us in, the uninterested admissions clerk told us to go to a large waiting room that was filled with coughing, vomiting and bleeding patients. When I happened to ask if they needed to see my travel insurance card, the clerk exclaimed, "You have insurance?" and we were quickly ushered to the employee lounge to wait for treatment. Later I asked how long it would take to see the doctor because we had a flight to catch; they moved our file to the top of the stack, and soon we were on our way. Travel insurance - worth every cent.

Eve Conolly

After being robbed at gunpoint near Varanasi in India I was very impressed with the Virgin travel insurance. My claim was handled efficiently and fast.

Willem Bras