ARTHUR NICHOLLS of Norwich wonders why travel agents don't have airline seating plans. Seats can be booked on long- haul flights to Australia, but without a plan to inspect, travellers can only hope the airline takes note of their request. 'Surely it would be more convenient for travel agents to have plans of seats so that customers would then know where they have been booked,' writes Mr Nicholls.

My experience in reserving seats on aircraft is that, like roulette, the odds are always stacked against you. Make it clear that you want to be in the no-smoking area and you are put either so far forward that you end in the row behind smoking in business class, or so far back that you are in the row in front of the economy class smoking section.

Ask for a seat with leg room, and you end up either next to the lavatories, where you have to endure constant inspection by the waiting queue, or next to the galley, where the food trolley constantly runs over your feet.

The truth is, unless you can afford to fly first or business class, all air travel is hell. Bad food, bad seats, bad films, bad headphones . . . The secret is to treat it as a due penance for daring to go on holiday: suffer in silence.