FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - Travelling the world for 6 months... My sabbatical leave experience
Old Dec 4, 18, 8:48 am
Join Date: Jan 2012
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BA/Comair business class WDH-JNB-CPT

The five days we spent in Namibia went quite fast, and before we even thought about it, it was time to leave this country for our next destination : Cape Town, South Africa.

For the ones interested knowing more about my stay in Namibia, I invite you to look at my blog :

After returning the rental car at Hertz Windhoek airport, we checked-in our luggage at the BA/Comair priority counter – this operation went quite smoothly and took only a few minutes. However, the airport terminal was pretty crowded at that time of the day, with a couple Air Namibia flights being cancelled and an entire Boeing 787-900 of Ethiopian airlines needed to be checked in. The airport terminal working clearly over-capacity, the entire area was quite chaotic. It took us about one hour and half to clear security and emigration. Yes, one hour and half. There was indeed to priority lane – and no air conditioning either. The entire queue was not really organized and pretty chaotic, with angry passengers from the Ethiopian airlines flight trying to by-pass the queue claiming that they would miss their flight. I cannot remember having ever waited that long in an airport, besides perhaps, when clearing the immigration in the U.S (the 2 hours and half waiting time at the immigration at LAX being my personal record).

BA/Comair Check-in WDH airport

Yes, we are going to have to go through this...

Queuing to get to the security queue !...

In the security queue...

... and finally emigration queue !

We eventually cleared security and emigration controls and went to the only lounge available in WDH airport : The amus(h)e lounge. Like the rest of this airport, this lounge has not much positive to write about, besides maybe the fact they have wifi, a few outside views and a decent seating : The buffet was pretty poor, but let’s face it, it was still better than waiting inside the very small 4-gate terminal.
Finally, the lounge has toilets and showers.

Inside the Amus(h)e lounge

The buffet is quite sad...

Departure board - A few cancellations that day.

Like the rest of the experience so far, the boarding was also very messy. The displays at the gate were not updated and we could not understand ANYTHING at the microphone announcements which were displayed.

WDH terminal

Nope... This is not the SA flight to Cape Town, but the BA flight to Johannesburg...

The only nice thing in WDH airport is that the boarding on the tarmac allows you to take plenty of nice pictures…

British Airways (operated by Comair) flight BA6274, November 4th 2018
WDH Windhoek H.Kotako – 15:05
JNB Johannesburg O.R Tambo – 16:55
Boeing 737-800 – ZS-ZWR – Seat 1A, Business class, window.

This particular aircraft had a slightly different seat configuration as the previous one we took and although the legroom was lower than previously, it was still acceptable thanks to the « cut » in the lower part of the bulkhead wall.The standard pre-departure beverage was offered (choice of water, juices or sparkling wine). Due to the cancellation of an Air Namibia flight earlier that day, a lot of passengers got transferred to our flight and this resulted in a lot of duplicate seat assignments, resulting in a lot of last minute upgrades. The aircraft was consequently full in all cabins, with a lot of European passengers going back home after the holidays.

We took off about 30 minutes late and the meal service began about 25 minutes later, with the usual salad, cheese and dessert being placed on the tray, while the a choice of 3 main courses was offered later. Before that, another bar service was done and some nuts were provided. I choose the vegetarian wrap this time and it was ok. I found the service to be quite slow on this flight, maybe due to the high loading of the cabin, and was only able to use my laptop on my tray table for barely 20 minutes out of a 2 hour flight.

We landed about 15 to 20 minutes late and got parked at a gate in the domestic terminal, resulting in a crowded bus transfer to the international terminal. Not really premium experience !

Since JNB was our first point of entry in South Africa, immigration had to be cleared and it was also a painful process which took about 70 minutes. Despite the signs indicating transiting passengers to inform the staff if they have a connecting flight, no ground staff seemed to care and everyone was telling us to wait in line. By the time we cleared SA immigration, our luggage was already off the belt and the belot number not even indicated on the screen anymore…

Just like in the US, there is the possibility in JNB airport to recheck straight after customs your luggage when you have a domestic connection. While the South African Airways desks were staffed and operating, the BA counters were open, but not staffed at all. After asking a SAA agent, we were told to go to the domestic terminal to recheck our luggage were we arrived about 25 minutes before the departure of our flight. The agent at the kiosk was unsure if the luggage would be loaded on our flight but accepted to check our two pieces of luggage and since the security control was pretty smooth we reached our boarding gate a few minutes before closure.

Finally, SA immigration was cleared, we were ready to check-in our bags for the next flight...

...But nobody was there !

So we had to use the conventional counters located at the end of the terminal !

Overall, this was quite a stressful experience and while I think I am a « seasoned traveller », it was still an annoying experience for me. Someone not used to travelling would have probably missed his/her connection.

Last passengers to board...

British Airways (operated by Comair) flight BA6407, November 4th 2018
JNB Johannesburg O.R Tambo – 19:10
CPT Cape Town – 21:20
Boeing 737-800 – ZS-ZWS – Seat 1F, Business class, window.

While we were within the last passengers to board this aircraft, we were welcomed by a friendly young FA named Immanuel and offered a fruit juice or water (no sparkling wine this time). We pushed back on time and took off around 1920. The business class cabin was about half full this time and was using a similar seat configuration as the previous flight.

Looking at the window...

I opted for a gin and tonic after take off and it came with a packet of Montagu nuts. Our flight attendant also asked our choice of still or sparkling water for our meal.The now classical business class meal tray, containing a salad with cheddar cheese and flashy pink macaron came afterwards and I opted for the chicken this time as a main course (it was the first time I was seeing this option). It came with some buckwheat and vegetables. It was allright. My friend however found her special meal to have a different taste than on the two previous flights, despite being the same… looks like the cook decided to add some more spices inside this batch J.

Taking off in the complete darkness...

I was able to work about 25 minutes on that flight before the descent began. The doors were opened on an apron position at 2125 and this was followed by a crowded bus ride to the terminal. The luggage arrived very fast, as it was already on the belt by the time we got to the terminal.

Disembarking by bus...

...Luggage was already there when we arrived.
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