Luggage to South Africa

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Old Dec 30, 08, 11:04 pm
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Luggage to South Africa

3 of us traveling SYD-JNB-CPT (QF63 + Comair) on Friday for the first time.
Have heard conflicting stories about the security of one's luggage (pilfering etc.) in JNB.

Is this a major worry?
Should we have our bags shrinked wrapped in SYD?
Is it even available at T1?

Thanks for any advice
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Old Dec 30, 08, 11:17 pm
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I did the same flights at the end of April. JNB has a similar int/dom transfer arrangement to SYD, that is you pick up your luggage from the carousels at International Arrivals then pass through Customs/Quarantine and recheck your luggage at the Domestic Terminal. The terminals are adjacent, so you run the gauntlet of the taxi touts and beggars when you leave the terminal and go past the rebuilding area.

The work at the Domestic Terminal has been finished and it's probably the best designed domestic terminal I've seen, with separate levels for arrivals and departures.

Regarding the security of your luggage, I had no problems with any of the four flights I had within South Africa. I just took the normal precautions of locking the bags. My father had golf clubs and had no problems either.
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Old Dec 31, 08, 12:00 am
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I'm in CPT now. We flew JNB and had no issues with luggage.

In regards to transferring, you now don't even need to go outside. The new terminal is all in the one building so once you get your bags, turn left and go towards the travellators that will take you upto the domestic check in Area.

We were flying J with Comair from JNB-CPT and were told the plane had become all Y. They said all they could do was offer us compensation. They offered a free Y flight within SA valid for 12 months. Obviously not coming back in 12 months I couldnt use it.

I ended up asking to be moved to a SAA flight which they said was also Y only, however after going to the SAA ticket desk we found availability and went back to BA and they then rebooked us in J within 5 minutes.

Service in South Africa is pretty bad on the main part. Seems to range from damn awful to average.

We also booked a hire car through our hotel (The Westin) only to find the charmless guy at the desk had only reserved it and not booked it which meant it was not available for us to hire and being peak week there are no other cars available!

Also housekeeping here have on 2 days taken towels and not replaced them (ie no towels at all in the room) and the bed sheets were changed with big yellow stains on the pillows.... certainly not what you expect from a 5 stra hotel charging $600 AUD a night!
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Old Dec 31, 08, 12:39 am
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Thanks AB_Boy.
We're staying in smaller guest houses. It will be interesting to compare.

As regards the Comair J; that will also be interesting. we're on a DONE4 with 3 sectors within SA on Comair. Dunno if I would be able to pull the same trick to transfer to SAA. KVS shows plenty of availabilty inc. J on all our flights !
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Old Dec 31, 08, 2:54 am
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Originally Posted by AN_Boy View Post
I'm in CPT now. We flew JNB and had no issues with luggage.

In regards to transferring, you now don't even need to go outside. The new terminal is all in the one building so once you get your bags, turn left and go towards the travellators that will take you upto the domestic check in Area.

We were flying J with Comair from JNB-CPT and were told the plane had become all Y. They said all they could do was offer us compensation. They offered a free Y flight within SA valid for 12 months. Obviously not coming back in 12 months I couldnt use it.

I ended up asking to be moved to a SAA flight which they said was also Y only, however after going to the SAA ticket desk we found availability and went back to BA and they then rebooked us in J within 5 minutes.

Service in South Africa is pretty bad on the main part. Seems to range from damn awful to average.

We also booked a hire car through our hotel (The Westin) only to find the charmless guy at the desk had only reserved it and not booked it which meant it was not available for us to hire and being peak week there are no other cars available!

Also housekeeping here have on 2 days taken towels and not replaced them (ie no towels at all in the room) and the bed sheets were changed with big yellow stains on the pillows.... certainly not what you expect from a 5 stra hotel charging $600 AUD a night!
Ouch!!! I am going to Durban in May/June.

Don't know what to think now...
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Old Dec 31, 08, 2:57 am
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So can someone clarify; does Comair have J? I am booked CPT-JNB on 3 January and my ticket does indicate J (KLM codeshare),
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Old Dec 31, 08, 4:08 am
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Originally Posted by MetroAir View Post
Ouch!!! I am going to Durban in May/June.

Don't know what to think now...
Very OT: We just spent the month of October in South Africa. It was our first trip to the country, and I can agree that service can be spotty at times (e.g., we were given a very bad car by Budget, which finally broke down, and the replacement took more than 5 hours to get to us - and we were less than 2 hours away from the nearest Budget rental location). However, we also received excellent service, and, overall, were extremely impressed by this fascinating, complex, very interesting country. So we hope to go back very soon. There are so many things that can interest a visitor, starting of course with some fantastic national parks (I could go back for another month and spend it all in Kruger!), the variety of cultures, landscapes, biodiversity, etc. And overall, excellent infrastructure that allows you to visit most of the country without too much difficulty (especially considering that this is Africa!). One of the best values for travelers willing to do a bit of exploring on their own, IMHO. Oh, we didn't have any luggage problem either at JNB (or CPT or DUR).
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Old Dec 31, 08, 5:10 am
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Originally Posted by MetroAir View Post
Ouch!!! I am going to Durban in May/June.

Don't know what to think now.
As far as the flights are concerned, just go in Y if you have to. JNB-DUR is so short that you'll barely know that you're flying.
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Old Dec 31, 08, 5:25 am
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Originally Posted by Globaliser View Post
As far as the flights are concerned, just go in Y if you have to. JNB-DUR is so short that you'll barely know that you're flying.
Thanks, but not my coin...
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Old Dec 31, 08, 6:27 am
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Originally Posted by LifeTimeBronze View Post

As regards the Comair J; that will also be interesting. we're on a DONE4 with 3 sectors within SA on Comair. Dunno if I would be able to pull the same trick to transfer to SAA. KVS shows plenty of availabilty inc. J on all our flights !

Before flying I looked on KVS and we were the only ones in the J cabon, os perhaps a reason why it was mafde all Y?

As for rebooking onto SAA, you will need to push the point as at first they lied and said SAA was also Y only and if they wanted us to be put in that they could. It wasnt until I went down the other side of the terminal to check SAA availability and went back to Comair that they bothered to do rebook it for us. They were also pretty rude about compensation as when i said a free flight was not suitable as I dont live in South Africa I was told "What? You dont like my country" lol... no I like your country but I live in Australia so it is not easy to get to!

anyways, I was able to get the flights credited to QF as per the original booking and get the SAA points onto BMI so there was a happy ending!

Now, for the return on 5 Jan we have been moved to a 737-200! Should be interesting
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Old Dec 31, 08, 6:47 am
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On the BA website for a random set of dates in March they are still selling club (business) seats on all of the flights between JNB and CPT.
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Old Dec 31, 08, 7:11 am
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On the original question of security of luggage at JNB, it is normal now (same as at SYD, for example). In 2003 or 2004 a big luggage theft ring was broken up at JNB (dozens of airport employees arrested) and this solved half the problem. The other half was from non-airport employees and this was subsequently solved, in part with a big and very visible police presence (patrolling the terminals and airport grounds). JNB has made a concerted and diligent effort to solve the crime problem at JNB and has been successful.

As for the rest of the country, it varies from charming and wonderful to hellish. There are some areas where you do not stop the car under any circumstances (not even for red lights, called "robots" there); in fact the law was changed a decade ago to make it legal to run red lights under some circumstances. Those areas are rare, but you need to know where they are before you drive around on your own (or just stick to routes that you have cleared with locals in advance, e.g. your hotel concierge).

This can be one of the best countries in the world for a tourist, but parts of it is also the most dangerous. The large dichotomy can catch some people off guard.
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Old Dec 31, 08, 12:01 pm
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Originally Posted by AN_Boy View Post
We also booked a hire car through our hotel (The Westin) only to find the charmless guy at the desk had only reserved it and not booked it which meant it was not available for us to hire and being peak week there are no other cars available!

Also housekeeping here have on 2 days taken towels and not replaced them (ie no towels at all in the room) and the bed sheets were changed with big yellow stains on the pillows.... certainly not what you expect from a 5 stra hotel charging $600 AUD a night!
It seems the Westin has gone completely to the dogs. A fellow FTer was staying there the past few days and the litany of cock-ups was just staggering. Avoid if at all possible currently.

Originally Posted by tgsh2006 View Post
So can someone clarify; does Comair have J? I am booked CPT-JNB on 3 January and my ticket does indicate J (KLM codeshare),
They certainly do, But there have been reports of flights being made all Y. If I get a chance before I leave for Thailand tomorrow I'll phone and find out what's happening.

Originally Posted by honu View Post
Very OT: We just spent the month of October in South Africa. It was our first trip to the country, and I can agree that service can be spotty at times (e.g., we were given a very bad car by Budget, which finally broke down, and the replacement took more than 5 hours to get to us - and we were less than 2 hours away from the nearest Budget rental location). However, we also received excellent service, and, overall, were extremely impressed by this fascinating, complex, very interesting country. So we hope to go back very soon. There are so many things that can interest a visitor, starting of course with some fantastic national parks (I could go back for another month and spend it all in Kruger!), the variety of cultures, landscapes, biodiversity, etc. And overall, excellent infrastructure that allows you to visit most of the country without too much difficulty (especially considering that this is Africa!). One of the best values for travelers willing to do a bit of exploring on their own, IMHO. Oh, we didn't have any luggage problem either at JNB (or CPT or DUR).
Thanks for providing more balanced perspective!
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Old Dec 31, 08, 12:15 pm
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Originally Posted by number_6 View Post
... in fact the law was changed a decade ago to make it legal to run red lights under some circumstances.
Urban legend, I'm afraid.
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Old Jan 2, 09, 8:28 am
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Answered most of my questions and some posed by others myself today.

QF63 was excellent today; efficient friendly check-in; uncrowded quiet QP (T1 J); very good menu and wine onboard; excellent friendly crew.

Immigration at JNB slow (no air-con due renovations). Luggage waiting on carousel; loaded free trolley and easy stroll to domestic check-in with no luggage touts at all.

Presently in BA Terraces JNB (domestic). Quiet, bright, airy and colourful (African influence I guess) with extensive range of nibbles and drinks. Also free but slow internet.

Yes, J on Comair JNB-CPT. More later if anything significant eventuates.
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