General advice on LHR - JNB route

Old Oct 12, 20, 3:03 am
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General advice on LHR - JNB route

Thought id reach out to find some general advice on the JNB route please.. Managed to book LHR to JNB early June (Next year) on a 241 Voucher, first out and club back both on the A380. Took advantage of the Avios sale so spent 83,00 Avios and around £1100. Fingers crossed it happens as currently don’t believe we (UK) are allowed into South Africa at present. Guessing they may follow suit of some other countries with PCR testing beforehand.



What’s the connections like at JNB? Should I touch down and then look to connect to Cape town (is this even possible) or is it worth staying a night in Jo’berg? Anyone have first-hand experience? The second part of our week holiday is do one of the Game Parks, does that mean I need to fly back to Jo’berg?



I guess I could have flown direct to Cape Town but not sure if BA flew that route on the dates I wanted, and even if they did I really wanted to experience the A380 for the first time. So JNB was always my preference although logically it made no sense. First seats is a no-brainier, though Club is posing more tricky. Never been on the A380 so upper deck is something id like to experience – however the lower deck middle seats seem perfect for a couple. First world problems.



Sorry if this topic isn’t very BA related and if so please feel free to move or delete as you feel appropriate. Was going to post something similar on TripAdvisor in regards to hotels, but thought id check in here first as its flight related.
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Old Oct 12, 20, 3:17 am
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You have to clear immigration and collect your luggage before checking in for your domestic connection so leave plenty of time if you plan to do that. If you are thinking of an overnight in Jo'berg then keep in mind you are not likely to get into your hotel room until the afternoon so what to do until then might be an issue. At least the SLOW lounges are very nice so if you need to spend some time waiting for your domestic connection it is not too bad an experience.
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Old Oct 12, 20, 3:19 am
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We were suppose to be doing a similar trip last week, if you look at seatspy.com they have all of the availability. I would say it is easier to fly into JNB and out of CPT on BA, or vice-versa instead of getting a transfer. You would need to phone up to get it booked, as you can't do it online. When we were looking at safari at Kruger we were going to fly from CPT to Nelspruit to get Krugar, you can fly from JNB as well. Just didn't fancy a day in a car from JNB to Nelspruit. Hope this is effort to get you started.

Seat wise with Club if it is a day flight we always get seats facing each other, and night flights we always take the middle seats as more private to sleep.
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Old Oct 12, 20, 3:27 am
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South Africa is a big country so probably worth thinking more about which game parks you want to visit, and what budget you have. There are reserves near(ish) to Cape Town. If you want to visit Kruger then Jo’burg is a 4hr drive on so you might prefer an (expensive) domestic flight to MQP (Kruger/Mpumalanga ) airport.

Jo’burg isn’t the most interesting place on the planet, but the Apartheid museum is well worth it for context on how SA got to where it is.

Connections are pretty easy on arrival but it’s anyone’s guess who will be flying and on what schedule. Personally I’d take direct over the connection but I don’t find the A380 that special.

Note that June is winter and Cape Town could be rather British in climate. Great time of year for Kruger but it can also get quite chilly.
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Old Oct 12, 20, 3:48 am
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Wow thanks all for the replies so far. Some defiantly useful advice.



Overnight in Jo’berg was our least preferential choice – so yes ill look for internal flights on the same day. Will give ample time and use one of the lounges to run down the clock. Not looking to book transfers just yet due to the obvious uncertain times. Maybe a couple of months beforehand should be fine.



May give BA a call at some point and see if its possible to change to CPT for flight back to LHR – could make more sense. However (early stages yet) thinking of staying at the Lion Sands Ivory Lodge. My itinerary in the head was something of this; LHR to JNB connect same day to CPT – Hotel for 4 nights in CPT. Internal flight from CPT to the game park – 3nights at the Game park, then internal flights from game park to JNB. JNB to LHR. Never factored in how far Nelspruit is from the game parks though d’oh!



Yes June seemed more probability of seeing more animals – weather wise seems warm in daytime and like you mentioned chilli at night.
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Old Oct 12, 20, 3:56 am
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What’s the connections like at JNB? Should I touch down and then look to connect to Cape town (is this even possible) or is it worth staying a night in Jo’berg? Anyone have first-hand experience? The second part of our week holiday is do one of the Game Parks, does that mean I need to fly back to Jo’berg?
I've done this. Allowed a few hours at JNB to connect to the Comair flight to CPT, very straight forward. Then drove the garden route, ending up at Pumba nature reserve, about an hour+ drive from Port Elizabeth, where you could get a flight to JNB/ CPT or even Durban for the return.

We also flew up to Victoria Falls for a few days before coming home, so another return flight added to the mix, if you like to live dangerously! (Actually living very dangerously as one of the internal flights was on the ill fated Boeing 737 Max two days before it was withdrawn from service!)
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Old Oct 12, 20, 4:55 am
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There were direct flights on Airlink from MQP to Livingstone (Zambia side of the falls) pre-Covid. Expensive but a big time saver if inclined. Vic Falls is spectacular and well worth a visit but you run the risk of doing too much.

Kruger is quite remarkable. The OH’s parents live nearby so we just do self drive trips, and have never had a bad one. Our last visit started with wild dog and then saw the Big 5 in 6 hours flat, plus copious amounts of other cool stuff from snakes to tortoises. Not bad in a Toyota Camry!
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Old Oct 12, 20, 5:08 am
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Picking up bags and checking in again at Joburg is normally quite straightforward, but allow a bit of time in case immigration is slow.

As noted a bit of a guessing game as to who will be flyingJNB-CPT. SAA and Comair (BA franchisee in SA who also run Kulula) are out of action with uncertain return. Mango appears to be running but with a limited schedule.

That leaves Airlink and Safair as remaining options.

I find Joburg a fun place to spend a few days with some good restaurants, galleries, bars, etc. But lockdown and preferences dependent!
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Old Oct 12, 20, 7:21 am
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Well done on getting flights if you are traveling at the weekend. Though JNB usually has more availability than CPT, can still be difficult and this year the Lions Tour is making July / August difficult. Ideally you would have booked the JNB-CPT connection on the 241 ticket as an open-jaw with a connection outbound, but you can't currently see those flights because Comair is under business rescue procedure. When (hopefully) they re-start operations in December, you might be able to add it with a £35 per person change fee. By doing that your bag is tagged through and after immigration ad collecting your luggage, you can drop it off just after customs. If you buy a separate ticket, you just have a 5 minute walk with your bags from international arrivals to the domestic check in desks (same building). On separate tickets allow 3+ hours - one hour for immigration and baggage collection, an hour for domestic check in with an hour leeway for late incoming arrival.

With only 1 week (am I reading that correctly?), don't try and 'see' too much or you'll spend all of your time in airports. There are 'game reserves' in the Western Cape that stock African savanna animals, but if you want to see wildlife somewhere close to wild, you need to go to the Eastern Cape or further east. You can fly to Port Elizabeth or Durban (cheaply) and drive to places within a few hours. Assuming you want somewhere guided and don't want to lose time transferring, for expediency of you should be able to fly directly to the greater Kruger area - the airport you use depends on the private reserve lodge you choose to be guided in - usually either Skukuza, Hoedpsruit or KMIA/MQP. The Airlink flights are loaded and available to buy. Expect about £200-300 per person one way for those flights. It is perfectly possible to drive yourselves in the National Park much more affordably, the drive to the National Park takes 5-7 hours from JNB depending on which bit you go to. So most people with just one week would do 3 nights Cape Town, see table mountain, penguins, cape point and the wine lands, perhaps stay overnight in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek to enjoy dinner & wine then take the direct flight from CPT to the greater Kruger area which lands around midday, giving time for a ground transfer to the lodge for a ~3-4 pm afternoon game drive. I would recommend 3 nights on 'safari' to give you a good chance of seeing lots of variety (there can be quiet days even in the most expensive of lodges!). On your last day you do the morning game drive and breakfast then transfer to the airport for an early afternoon flight into JNB and then wait for your check in. If you choose not to change your outbound to the direct LHR-CPT flight and choose to transfer through JNB you'll lose the first half-day.
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Old Oct 12, 20, 7:57 am
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The arrival at JNB pre covid could involve a significant queue for passport control, and that may be worse with temperature scanning potentially on exiting the plane, at immigration, on entering baggage reclaim and on exiting customs, so allow a good 3 hours after landing.

Cape Town departures are from the domestic terminal, but the transfer between terminals is an easy 3 minute indoor walk. You will get hassled by a large number of semi-official porters offering to push your trolley as you exit cusoms. They will take a polite "no thank you" as an answer if you wish.

Immediately on leaving customs, go up a level in the terminal lifts or escalators, (The baggage trolleys are escalator compatible). ATMs are on the next level up, and you need to be on the departure level anyway. Check in tends to be efficient at domestic, and an early afternoon flight to Cape Town is easily do-able, as long as the flight isn't delayed. SAA and BA between them have a dozen flights a day on the route. There are a number of LCCs as well. Mango and Kulula spring to mind, but Kulula is part of Comair, so equally affected by business rescue issues at present. If all goes well you will have time for a shower and meal in the lounge and be in Cape Town for mid afternoon. Unfortunately you can't add the Cape Town leg to your existing 241, since the voucher is not usable on franchise partners, so the risk of a missed connection is yours, not the airlines.

If overnighting in Joburg, consider an on airport property (The Intercontinental or the Park Inn being the choices) or any of a number of close by hotels with shuttles the Peermont Casino complex has 4 on site, the Protea is a good middle of the range choice or the Southern Sun for a more high end option. Another option is the Gautrain to Sandton. (On the opposite side of the terminal building to domestic departures) The Intercontinental is by far the easiest, maybe 150m from exiting the customs hall. Or a bit further afield the Misty Hills Country Club for the Carnivore Restaurant (a sister to the one in Nairobi.)

Airlink run a direct flight to Skukuza, where you could transfer to a lodge link flight, or pick up a car from Avis. There is also the option of a flight to KMIA (Nelspruit/Mbombela) from Cape Town.

For your return leg, I'd say upper deck, a window pair in the last row of either club cabin (direct aisle access for both).

Enjoy. Be warned that it is an addiction.
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Old Oct 12, 20, 8:00 am
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Originally Posted by konagirl2 View Post
Ideally you would have booked the JNB-CPT connection on the 241 ticket as an open-jaw with a connection outbound, but you can't currently see those flights because Comair is under business rescue procedure.
You cannot add the Comair flights to a 241 booking - these are restricted to BA flights only and Comair, as a franchise, are not considered BA metal despite the paint and flight number.
Comair have now announced confirmation of a return to flying in December.

I would recommend not checking your luggage through to the final destination. On both occasions I did this, it only made it as far as JNB outbound and return.
JNB is an easy airport to negotiate and Comair were very helpful on the two occasions we landed several hours late. On one occasions, we disembarked from LHR 30 minutes before our onward flight to LVI. We were met at the door, our luggage receipts taken and confirmed and both ourselves and our luggage made the ongoing (not a connection) flight.
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Old Oct 12, 20, 10:12 am
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A380

Sorry to be a kill joy, but it's worth pointing out that there is no guarantee BA will be flying the A380 next year, let alone to Jo'burg.

I would select the routes that work best for your trip, particularly if you've only got 1 week in SA, and avoid getting fixated on a/c type.
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Old Oct 12, 20, 10:21 am
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As others have said, with a week definitely don't waste time overnighting in Joburg on arrival. Book a through connection to Cape Town, unwind and enjoy the city for 4 days, then take the non-stop service to Skukuza (SZK) enjoy your 3 nights at Lion Sands and then the SZK-JNB flight and head home. Skukuza airport is actually partially run by the same family that owns Lion Sands, and you would board your 4x4 open vehicles at the airport for a short safari transfer to Lion Sands directly from the airport.
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Old Oct 12, 20, 1:25 pm
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Originally Posted by konagirl2 View Post

With only 1 week (am I reading that correctly?), don't try and 'see' too much or you'll spend all of your time in airports. There are 'game reserves' in the Western Cape that stock African savanna animals, but if you want to see wildlife somewhere close to wild, you need to go to the Eastern Cape or further east. You can fly to Port Elizabeth or Durban (cheaply) and drive to places within a few hours. Assuming you want somewhere guided and don't want to lose time transferring, for expediency of you should be able to fly directly to the greater Kruger area - the airport you use depends on the private reserve lodge you choose to be guided in - usually either Skukuza, Hoedpsruit or KMIA/MQP. The Airlink flights are loaded and available to buy. Expect about £200-300 per person one way for those flights. It is perfectly possible to drive yourselves in the National Park much more affordably, the drive to the National Park takes 5-7 hours from JNB depending on which bit you go to. So most people with just one week would do 3 nights Cape Town, see table mountain, penguins, cape point and the wine lands, perhaps stay overnight in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek to enjoy dinner & wine then take the direct flight from CPT to the greater Kruger area which lands around midday, giving time for a ground transfer to the lodge for a ~3-4 pm afternoon game drive. I would recommend 3 nights on 'safari' to give you a good chance of seeing lots of variety (there can be quiet days even in the most expensive of lodges!). On your last day you do the morning game drive and breakfast then transfer to the airport for an early afternoon flight into JNB and then wait for your check in. If you choose not to change your outbound to the direct LHR-CPT flight and choose to transfer through JNB you'll lose the first half-day.
Good advice IMHO. Only thing to add is that Kruger area is considered malarial whereas the lodges in the Cape are considered malaria free. Although it is cold in June which generally reduces the risk. But you might want to factor that into your considerations if you don't want to take anti-malarials.

More generally I'm with the majority here that the safari experience in the Cape is a lot less authentic than you'll get further north (albeit certainly better in the Eastern Cape, using PLZ as a jumping off point). I always enjoy spending time in Addo NP and Mountain Zebra NP for example. And safari is indeed addictive lol

Have a great trip

Last edited by Fritz; Oct 12, 20 at 1:28 pm Reason: grammar
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Old Jan 6, 21, 5:53 am
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Hi, jumping onto this thread if I may.

We're due to fly LHR to JNB with CW reward flights in Oct (After the DUR route was cancelled). We aim to fly straight onto CPT the same morning.

My questions;

1. Flight, BA055 is due to arrive @ 07:05. Is a ComAir flight @ 09:25 achievable or is the 10:35 more realistic? We do tend to travel hand luggage so that may save a little time.
2. Are there fast track immigration options available to CW passengers?
3. Should we need to get the later flight can we use the Business lounges? If so which is the best option.

Appreciate the world's in chaos and anything could happen between now and Oct, but regardless, I still want to plan most suitable options for our trip.

Thanks
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