TravelCommentator Blog

Snippets: Digital Passenger Declaration App Frustrations

Complaints a Plenty, Strong Opinions and Some Advice In Australia the Department of Home Affairs has an app that can be used on smartphones and tablets for returning passengers, tourists, visitors and those in transit called Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD). This electronic form has to be completed before arrival. It includes passport details, vaccine certificate and negative COVID-19 test results. It has been designed so passengers can use the SmartGates without having to physically show the documentation mentioned to the Border Force staff. The app has been out since mid February 2022, but it has been reported to be causing a lot of issues and stress with passengers. Many complaiing it doesn’t work properly and frustratingly time consuming to complete. Some of the reviews...

How to Survive Jet Lag, My Take

The scourge of the long haul flyer. Yes, the loss of sleep, the heavy head, the tired eyes, the feeling of fatigue and irritability. These are the psycological and physiological effects that will weigh you down for several days. Is jet lag avoidable? Or can it at least be managed so that it doesn’t wreck travel plans? Here’s what I think… I will be honest, in my early days of crossing multiple time zones I too suffered the occasional jet lag. The only way I knew how to counteract the effects was to just go to sleep at my earliest convenience. I basically tried to sleep it off, but of course that caused other issues. I would be out of kilter for a few...

Travel Money: Cash, Cards or Cheques?

The one thing you can’t do without no matter where you are, money. Or in other words the local currency. So what is the best way to go about organising foreign currency? How much should you carry and in what form: cash, credit card, debit card, travel money card or traveller’s cheques? All have their and pros and cons. So your choice may come down to how comfortable you are carrying a lot of cash, some cash or just plastic. Personally I would have a combination of a few of these except the traveller’s cheques even though they are still accepted in some places and are a very safe way of carrying money. Cash Is cash still king? Yes always, and it will be...

Snippets: Have We Forgotten How To Travel?

…Flew to Europe and realised I’ve forgotten how to travel With mandates and restrictions easying or withdrawn and some normality coming back to travel after about two years, have we forgotten how to actually go about our favourite leisure passtime? The question was implied in a recent article with the writer going through the motions, feeling excited, nervous, anxious and confused. Forgetting how to pack when he was always ready at a moments notice, having bags pre-packed. He was trying to figure out what he needed. I don’t blame him especially for someone who travels to earn a crust. Packing is one of the most frustrating things. He didn’t need this extra aggravation. He goes on to explain he has forgotten how things were:...

Snippets: Mask Mandates on Planes, Keep or Scrap?

Mask Mandates on Planes… The writer in this article explains which airlines are dropping the mask mandate and those that are continuing this requirement. He asks the question in a sub heading, “Does masking wearing on aircraft work?”, and then mentions HEPA filters and the airlines claim of 99.9% efficiency. So another question, “If so, then why bother with a mask?” No mention so far why anyone should wear a mask but the writer is implying they should and tries to back this up with several medical articles which he gives the links to. However none of these articles specifically mentions the efficacy of mask wearing but concentrate on whether there is transmission of COVID-19 in the airplane cabin. Which we know has been...

Packing Cubes: Don’t Pack Without Them

These luggage accessories have been very popular with travellers and are definitely one of the best bits of travel kit you can buy. Trying to jam-pack luggage with clothes, shoes and other travel bits and pieces in an orderly fashion and trying to save space at the same time is something we all try to do. Particularly in roller cases, whether large or cabin-sized, soft or hard. The solution is simple, separate everything into the self-contained zippable cube-shaped compartments and slip them snuggly into your luggage. Everything organised and space saved. Sounds great? You bet. You not only separate clothes from shoes and other accessories like toilettries, charging cables, jewellry, etc., but you can sort them into categories, like: by what matches, by destination,...

Snippets: Lying Down Across Economy Seats Not Recommended

Don’t lie down across empty economy seats… In a letter response to an article mentioning passengers appropriating themselves empty seats and lying down across them in rows of three or four, an aeronautical engineer made his concerns known that it was dangerous to do so as passengers could not restrain themselves properly and in turbulence could be launched from their seats. He also wrote passengers should not switch seats without the FAs being informed as they could upset the aircraft’s trim. Name of letter writer witheld…says there’s no way one can be restrained properly lying across three or four seats. Depends what is meant by properly. I’ve done it by attaching the straps closest to each other from two seats. The strap with the...

Snippets: Economy Pax Upgrade Forces Flight Turn Back

Flight turns back after economy passengers upgrade themselves… A couple of Economy Class passengers decided to move into Business Class. A standoff ensued with cabin crew and the captain was forced to return the flight to its departure point where those passengers were subsequently arrested by police. The writer goes on asking, “Who even thinks they can self-upgrade?” He then makes some fair comments about the self-righteous and then asks, “Who does get upgraded?” Explaining that airlines don’t upgrade economy passengers just because there are empty seats, it’s the frequent flyers with status that do or you pay at check-in. No sweet deals. “What if economy class is full but not business?” Here he’s spot on explaining the rules with upgrades with platinum or...

Snippets

Every week (perhaps even twice a week) I’ll be adding a post with short comments called “Snippets”. Basically these “snippets” will be my response to what other people are saying about travel. This will include commenting on writers in major publications and anyone who leaves a post in their comments section or writes in a letter. It will be mostly my opinion, my slant. I may sound controversial or critical, I’ll try not to but sometimes it will have to be the case to get responses. Commenting will expand our views, hopefully getting to the bottom of things with suggestions, advice, etc. I’ll try not to mention the name of the article writer, the publication or of the commenters or the letter writers. I’ll...

Airport Rage

Do airports really send people into a rage or is it just an unlucky coincidence anger happens there? Causes Getting frustrated at airports is understandable. I think we all have at some stage. There are a lot of things happening. The slow check-in process, the long lines, the scanning, probing, identity checks, being monitored, etc. They all take time. One needs to be constantly alert and aware of what’s going on, and be on your feet for a while. This can weigh on a person’s mind and can get tiring. I think many of us agree on these points. We would rather this whole operation be more streamlined if it were possible. The less time standing, waiting and snaking around queues the better. Then...

Changi Airport COVID-19 Arrival Rules

I knew things wouldn’t be easy for international travellers with all the COVID restrictions, mandates and directives, which aren’t all the same everywhere, but after watching the YouTube video “Guide to on-arrival procedures at Changi Airport” released (on December 9) by Changi Airport, it truly demoralised me. It put me off travelling to Singapore, a place I love visiting. Now these are the rules required for entry into Singapore and not for those in transit at the airport which I understand are more relaxed, however there’s no mention what happens if someone tests positive and has to quarantine. Where will they do this, if it is a specified hotel(s) or in a purpose built facility and how long for and how much it is...

Luggage and Packing

Researching travel can be fun but knowing what to pack, how to pack and what kind of lugagge to use, can test your thinking process, patience and consume plenty of your time. Definitely one of the most frustrating moments in planning travel. But…there is a simple solution. First you need to work out how long you will be away from home, the climate(s) and the weather you will be expecting and in what environment you’ll be doing your travels. This will sort out what kind of clothes and shoes you’ll require and perhaps any accessories and other items. Then you can work out what size and sort of luggage is best and lastly how to pack things. When done right the same principles will...

Pantheon, Rome

Ancient Roman temple, free and easily accessible in the centre of the city of Rome. The Pantheon dates back to 27BC and is the only temple of its kind and size. The pagan temple was converted to a Roman Catholic church in the seventh centrury, Santa Maria dei Martiri (informally known today as Santa Maria Rotonda) and has been in continuous use for mass on Sundays and on holy days of significance. Visiting on church service days it is best to wear the right attire and cover up to show respect. The Pantheon is a very popular attraction. I’ve been there several times and would recommend visiting in the off-season when you can expect smaller sized crowds. It will give you more time to...

Air Crew No Jab No Fly…No Work!

Airlines are now thinking about getting their staff vaccinated against COVID-19. In Australia QANTAS has already said it will require all its frontline staff to be fully vaccinated if they want to continue to be employed. Now it seems that Virgin Australia will follow suit. The question is who exactly should be vaccinated? When they say frontline staff I would assume this to mean the pilots and flight attendants. I’d also assume it will be all the workers that have contact with travellers such as, check-in and boarding gate staff and lounge attendants. I’m not a hundred percent sure if that includes baggage handlers. Logically speaking they do get their hands on the passengers’ property, which may or may not have traces of the...

F**K Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter…

My first post in a very long time. Why no posts? I have had many opportunities to comment and give my opinion on many travel related subjects but what has stopped me was COVID-19. No, I didn’t get infected and ill. It was the whole situation of travel being turned upside down. It basically took the wind out of my sails. I could’ve posted many opinion pieces but the mood wasn’t there.  So about the title and why am I writing this? I was compelled. I basically had enough and had to vent my displeasure. I’ve been so fed up hearing and seeing what Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, have been doing since the start of the COVID-19 (so called) pandemic. The bans, censorship...

Travel Planning

The best way to build up travel expectations is to plan things yourself…my opinion. Visiting and experiencing new places is exciting, but before getting there one has to plan. I find the organising and planning of travel inspiring. It gets me dreaming and itching to go. I like to research and plan on my own. So, I’ll scour the internet for all the info I can find on the place(s) I’ll be visiting and how I’ll get there and spend my time. Of course, I could get a travel consultant to do all the work but that would take away the fun of doing things myself and build up that expectation I mentioned in my introduction quote. Planning is not as hard as one...