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Mini Trip Report - ALG to SFO via LON & JFK :)

Mini Trip Report - ALG to SFO via LON & JFK :)

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Old May 16, 18, 6:58 am
  #1  
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Mini Trip Report - ALG to SFO via LON & JFK :)

I'm looking forward to my trip starting next week...
  • positioning flight LGW-BCN
  • overnight at BCN
  • redeye VY BCN-ALG
  • 4 nights in Constantine
  • ALG-LGW LHR-JFK-SFO and back*
Will share a few experiences and observations as I go...




*well, almost See post #2 below...

Last edited by OverTheHorizon; May 16, 18 at 7:15 am
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Old May 16, 18, 6:59 am
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So, I am shortly off to Algeria for a few days before starting an ALG-LGW||LHR-JFK-SFO itinerary in J/F/J (GUF1 applied).

Getting a tourist visa for Algeria was reasonably straightforward, if rather document-heavy.
  • I filled in their online form, then printed and signed it.
  • I got our HR department to write me a short letter confirming my employment and the dates I am granted leave (in particular the date I am returning to work).
  • Finally, I took 2 copies of my passport (all pages) and a print of my hotel reservation at the Constantine Marriott.
  • Headed over to the Consulate near North Action Tube (postal application also allowed), paid my £85 fee and was told to come back the following week to collect.
  • Turned up as advised, waited 5 mins, and got my passport back with a shiny (literally) tourist visa.
As a data point, I had asked on the form for a 90 day multiple entry tourist visa but the rather dour guy on the desk said that they never grant these to first time visitors. So for the first time in my life I will be forced to drop the final sector and lose the 80TPs

All in all, not a terrible experience and if I love Algeria (as I expect to), I would be quite prepared to do it again for another visit

Last edited by OverTheHorizon; May 16, 18 at 7:14 am Reason: Additional info
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Old May 16, 18, 7:00 am
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I got up very very early and made my way back to El Prat for the 06:00 VY service to ALG. All ran smoothly and by 07:00 local we were pulling up at the gate at the old ALG terminal. There was still a lot of groundworks going on around the new terminal building - I reckon they are weeks if not months away from opening it.

Airbridge off the plane and into the terminal building. Now, a poster somewhere in this forum seemed to suggest it might be possible to do a "self-transfer" at ALG (i.e. similar to AMS). Not a chance ! We were herded straight into an Arrivals channel and to the passport desks. There is a short form to fill in, a quick look at the passport & visa, an entry stamp and you're through to landside. Whole thing took no more than 10 minutes - my best arrival into an Arab country ever - but the subsequent departure from ALG is a lengthy and painful affair (of which more below) so there's no way you would ever want to attempt a B2B here

Last edited by OverTheHorizon; May 27, 18 at 3:56 pm
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Old May 16, 18, 7:00 am
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After a few days in Algeria I was feeling quite relaxed and thought I was in tune with the local way of doing things. I hopped on the direct Air Algerie service from CZL-ALG (very cheap and perfectly OK) and breezed along from the National Terminal to the International.

At this point, the day became more stressful....

To start with, as with many places, there is a security perimeter before you can even enter the building. At each x-ray machine there was a guard whose entire job seemed to consist of shouting in Arabic to no great visible effect. And another who divided his time between looking at the the screen and shouting in Arabic (about 20%/80%). And a third who insisted in looking inside every bag, but only in one pocket or zip and for a second at that !!! Anyway, after 20 minutes of standing in the reasonably hot sun, I eventually made it through...

The next challenge was to get to the gate. This was a bit like the Crystal Maze:
  • follow the signs saying Départs
  • come to a door manned by a guard with working x-ray machines visible just behind him, get told to walk to the other end of the building
  • come to another door manned by a guard with working x-ray machines visible just behind him, get told to walk back the way you came, this time the original entrance is now the correct one
  • but ah now you must fill out a form (of course) but there are no pens and all you lucky travellers have to share one that someone found in a bag and it take another 10-15 minutes to do all that
  • then you line up for ages while the passport guy has a nice chat with his mates and a bit of a shout in Arabic
  • then finally you get to the desk and the guy asks
    • how long you were in the country (hint: the entry date is stamped on page 16 of my passport, buddy !)
    • where are you going (hint: you are holding my BP for ALG-LGW in your actual hand)
    • why did you come to Algeria (to overthrow the government, obviously )
    • why did you go to Constantine instead of staying in Algiers (I think he may have been a local boy )
  • and now the x-ray machine dance yet again
  • and then an artistic impression of swabbing for explosives ... I kid you not, the sniffer was broken - the screen actually said "ERREUR" in flashing letters but he put the sample end, counted to 10 and then waved me along...
  • and then another passport inspection and the guy - who seemed to be a Border agent - collects the BP stubs (now I know why no mobile BPs from ALG )
  • finally as you leave the departure lounge there is a one final run through the x-ray machine
From standing outside the International Terminal to sitting down in the departure lounge, it took 51 minutes...

Next time I will start from TLV - much less onerous

Last edited by OverTheHorizon; May 27, 18 at 4:23 pm
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Old May 16, 18, 7:01 am
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Old May 16, 18, 7:02 am
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I reserved this for the JFK arrivals experience (having briefly visited Algeria during Ramadan, and having tickets shortly thereafter for UAE and Indonesia) but in the end it was all a bit of a non-event.

Scanned my passport at the GE machine, pressed my fingers to the glass, answered No to all questions and 5 minutes later I was kerbside

...

Last edited by OverTheHorizon; May 27, 18 at 4:28 pm
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Old May 16, 18, 7:02 am
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Old May 16, 18, 7:04 am
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Old May 16, 18, 7:05 am
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Old May 16, 18, 7:08 am
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Enjoy Constantine. Don't go out at night, the Police get very nervous and will return you to your hotel in the back of their van.

PS And definitely don't try and take any photos of the bridge over the gorge at night, they don't like that especially if you are facing towards the, er, 'hospital'
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Old May 16, 18, 7:16 am
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Originally Posted by bhbloke View Post
Enjoy Constantine. Don't go out at night, the Police get very nervous and will return you to your hotel in the back of their van.

PS And definitely don't try and take any photos of the bridge over the gorge at night, they don't like that especially if you are facing towards the, er, 'hospital'
Hope that's slightly tongue in cheek, I thought the situation was calm in Constantine at the moment and how am I going to eat during Ramadan if I'm grounded after dark ?
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Old May 16, 18, 7:34 am
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I'm looking forward to following this one

Safe travels and have a great trip !

I think it should also be listed here too whilst "Live"

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Old May 16, 18, 7:53 am
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Originally Posted by OverTheHorizon View Post
Hope that's slightly tongue in cheek, I thought the situation was calm in Constantine at the moment and how am I going to eat during Ramadan if I'm grounded after dark ?
It was calm when I was there a few Easters ago, however the local Police were very edgy iwhen they saw a foreigner wandering around. I had to eat in my hotel (stayed in one of the Accor ones) as it was easier and didn't necessitate a ride in the back of a Police van.
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Old May 16, 18, 8:37 am
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Originally Posted by bhbloke View Post
Enjoy Constantine. Don't go out at night, the Police get very nervous and will return you to your hotel in the back of their van.

PS And definitely don't try and take any photos of the bridge over the gorge at night, they don't like that especially if you are facing towards the, er, 'hospital'
Come on be serious, it's one thing to wander alone in the middle of nowhere at night and its another thing to walk in a busy area after sundown! Enjoy Constantine, my father is born pretty close to there.
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Old May 16, 18, 1:48 pm
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As a regular visitor to Algeria for work (I pass through ALG at least every 3 weeks from / to LGW) I look forward to reading about your experiences in the country and hearing your views of the airport experience itself.
The new terminal is scheduled to open later this year I believe which will hopefully feature an improved lounge as the current one must surely be one of the worst in BA’s network as you will no doubt find out.
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