The budget airlines charge a fee to check baggage into the hold to discourage a practice which costs money – in the form of baggage handlers – and theoretically saves time by minimising loading/unloading at each end. But what seemed like a good idea to save time and cut costs isn't always such a good idea after all.
The easyJet flight a fortnight ago from Gatwick to Alicante was full. Virtually all of the passengers on the Airbus 319 had internalised the doctrine and each brought a midi-sized suitcase. The result? The flight left half an hour late.
As passengers boarded and took their seats from the front it became clear that there was insufficient space in the overhead lockers. The luggage began to advance down the cabin and fill the lockers faster than passengers could board the aircraft, and by the time passengers took seats at the back of the cabin, the lockers were full.
Consequently, cabin crew had to check all of the excess baggage into the hold for free.
Richard Madge, Aviation, Soviet style
I can vouch for the luggage arrangements you describe on Aeroflot: I once saw a Russian holidaymaker take on board a five-foot-long dead alligator wrapped about the waist with brown paper and string (he had apparently shot it in Cuba) and hand it to the stewardess to stow for him. Flying Aeroflot in the 1980s was like stepping onto a magic carpet, with your ticket a passport to a parallel universe which conferred citizenship of the socialist world on the bearer.
I once shared the night-time view over the equatorial forests of Africa looking down on electrical storms with a handful of passengers whilst en route from Angola to Moscow, before again stretching out whilst the crew played cards and drank vodka in the passenger cabin.
You were looked after by air hostesses with blue eye shadow, who poured boiling water from a kettle into ridiculously small plastic cups containing ridiculously large teabags and later distributed unpeeled oranges as dessert.
Sleep your way to New Zealand?
Air New Zealand's "Skycouch" offers a space just five feet in length and will be encroached upon by the seats in front reclining. Unsurprisingly, Air New Zealand has made less of the fact that these new 777s will see economy passengers seated 10 abreast, rather than nine as before. And while the seat pitch will be an inch greater than that on the company's existing 777s, it will be an inch less than that on the 747s which these new aircraft are destined specifically to replace.
Should cruise ships return to Haiti?
I was in Labadee last summer on a Royal Caribbean cruise. It is a beautiful spot, and the people need the cash injection, now more than ever. I could certainly understand cruisers feeling a bit odd coming off the ship to enjoy themselves, when a matter of miles away, people are utterly desperate. But the ships bypassing Haiti will only kick the Haitians when they are down.
We are British, living in the Dominican Republic, and our hearts go out strongly to the sadness and suffering of those in our adjacent country, Haiti. For anyone considering booking a holiday to the Dominican Republic: do not be discouraged by what has happened in Haiti. Come and enjoy the beautiful sunshine, beaches and friendly people because tourism here is vital to the country's economy too. We have nothing personal to gain; we are retired and run a small farm as a hobby.
Over from Dover
Most ferry companies out of Dover now refuse to accept foot passengers, blaming the cost of running buses from the terminal.