Farewell to Pan Am
Pan Am has to be credited with getting "around the world" travel started. In 1981, the sum of US$1,893 got you a book of 21 tickets. As long as you went either west or east and never doubled back, you could cover the globe.
During three months of travel, we had 10 stopovers starting in the US. First, New York (a farewell do in the Mohawk Bar in Queen's); London; Delhi (Taj Mahal followed by Varanasi and a side trip to Nepal); Bangkok (the temples and bus to Chiang Mai hill tribes); Hong Kong (and into mainland China for a day); Tokyo (travelling on the Shinkansen "bullet train"); Honolulu (for some winter sun); Auckland (to tour the North Island in a Ford Cortina); Sydney (into the bush around Canberra); Los Angeles and finally back to New York.
From there, we had plans to use the remaining nine tickets to go to Panama City, Caracas, Rio and Buenos Aires but ran out of time and, more importantly, money. Ten years later Pan Am was no more.
Those who remember the "good old days" seem to have forgotten the "good old" fares. Of course Pan Am could afford to put on white gloves, serve coffee from a silver pot, and pour champagne. But the market wanted cheap fares, and it got them. We often hear the airlines aren't what they used to be. But passengers are no longer paying for glamour. They paid for a cheap seat and that's what they got.
Walter V. Peters
Traveller's Guide to holiday money
I think you're wrong about the use of debit cards in ATMs abroad. A month ago in Portugal, I obtained an effective exchange rate from cash machines of just over €1.12 with my Nationwide debit card, after allowing for fees. Those who don't live in London do not have the option of touring a huge number of currency exchange offices looking for the best rate. Better to draw out what is needed at the time.
My experience on annual trips to various locations in Florida is that traveller's cheques continue to be accepted like cash. I have never encountered any of the resistance or charges that Simon Calder describes. In my opinion traveller's cheques continue to be a convenient, safe option for trips to the US.
We're surprised you didn't suggest a stopover in Kuala Lumpur. On one of our Australia trips, we stayed at the excellent Trader Hotel there, had a day at the bird sanctuary, enjoyed some great shopping and found the best bookshop I've ever encountered. We've booked again with Malaysian Airlines and are looking forward to the same stopover.
Margaret and Tony Spivey
Airlines denying boarding Re your story about easyJet preventing a Portugal-bound passenger fly because his passport had less than three months to run: in 1992, I arrived at Birmingham airport to travel to Vietnam via Frankfurt with Lufthansa. I had an open-ended ticket with a nominal return date six weeks later.
The desk clerk noticed that my visa was only for one month (the maximum Vietnam will offer) – so they weren't going to allow me to travel. I pointed out that if I wanted to stay longer it was a simple matter of going to a travel agent, paying a few dollars and they would extend my visa accordingly. They seemed surprised, but let me travel.
Robert J Smith
I fly regularly with KLM and I feel it is incorrect that you describe KLM as being part of Air France. Both airlines are part of the parent company Air France-KLM but they operate under separate identities. They have different standards: KLM is vastly superior to Air France on almost every level, and Schiphol is a fantastic airport unlike Paris Charles de Gaulle. It is akin to saying Iberia is part of British Airways when they are merely both part of the same company.
Dr D Dayalan