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Why is it so much dearer to fly from Australia to Ireland than vice versa?

Emirates: Oz dealsQ My wife and I frequently travel to Australia. When our relatives travel in the other direction, it always costs substantially more, regardless of the airline used. Why?

A Air fares from Western Europe are more competitive than in the other direction, with far more people flying in and out than any other city on Earth. Competition is particularly intense to Australia. Emirates and Etihad have great connections, and the indirect services put in very good deals because they have to charge less for the discomfort off two stops: Malaysia and the Chinese airlines have put great prices into the market, and British Airways, Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Air France and Lufthansa are not far behind.

As a result, prices are as low as they were a quarter-century ago, with €760 return fares to Sydney available this year. Same dates, opposite direction: €1,200.

It should be as competitive in the opposite directions but airlines like to charge as much as the market will bear. For most of the past 25 years, there has not been a huge difference between Australian and European fares. With the Lehmann recession and the Eurozone crisis, the Australian dollar soared in strength. The Aussies seem content to pay the same sorts of fares in A$ terms in 2013 as they did in 2007.

If any of your Australian relatives make regular trips to Ireland, it could be worth them buying a one-way ticket and then organising a suitable sequence of Dublin-Sydney-Dublin tickets to take advantage of our good fortune.

Q The hotel I booked has a very bad review by a customer ion TripAdvisor. Should I cancel?

A TripAdvisor is not the worst of systems, it is not the best either. Once you have enough reviews, the system generally works, few bad hotels get high ratings and few good ones get bad ones.

It generally works, but not always. Some truly terrible hotels I have stayed in have had great feedback, presumably because someone is organising them.

Think of it as a blank wall, inviting graffiti. Because reviews are anonymous the process invites mischief. On one hand you have hotels who post glowing reviews of their own sites and terrible reviews of the opposition. Then you have people with a grudge, and pushy customers who tried to bully the receptionist into an upgrade and did not get their way.

There are lots of stories of flaws. Last year an English newspaper reported that a top ranked restaurant was non-existent. Irish hotels have been contacted by a firm in Bangladesh which offers to post positive reviews at 10c a review.

Other sites are trying to follow with reviews and almost everyone has opened their sites to reviews nowadays. One site, TrustYou, aggregates the reviews from different sites.

Best of all, go to a travel agent. It is astonishing how many holidaymakers appear unwilling to rely on the advice of travel agents but seem to have no problem following anonymous advice.

Send your questions to ecorry@herald.ie