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Travelling the world for 6 months... My sabbatical leave experience

Travelling the world for 6 months... My sabbatical leave experience

Old Nov 21, 18, 11:46 am
  #46  
 
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Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
I must say I´m impressed by the lounge.
Me too. I was surprised to see they have enomatic wine dispensers, my local wine store has those - perfect serve every time.

Excellent and well prepared report so far palmanfr, thanks for sharing.
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Old Nov 21, 18, 8:24 pm
  #47  
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Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
I must say I´m impressed by the lounge.
I would personally rate this lounge equal to some top business lounges in Asia, with excellent food offerings. I visited the one in Cape Town airport and found it even better! I will share some pictures in a few posts.
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Old Nov 22, 18, 4:26 am
  #48  
 
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Originally Posted by palmanfr View Post
I would personally rate this lounge equal to some top business lounges in Asia, with excellent food offerings. I visited the one in Cape Town airport and found it even better! I will share some pictures in a few posts.
This is the one I mainly use in JNB - it really is upping the standard that we need here.

And here is a pet peeve of mine : The boarding was organized in a sense that business class and status passengers could board first, via the left side of the bus gate. So far, so good. The problem is that you are then staying in a bus (no big deal) which has the engine on – and so do the other buses around. The exhausts of the other buses were just facing the open door of our bus. This is just disgusting. IF the bus stands idle for 20 minutes – just stop the engine ! Especially that no AC was working that day.
This drives me insane - on a hot Johannesburg afternoon and you get loaded like animals to the slaughter, and the operating company - ACSA - does not seem to care.

Enjoying your TR so far - pity we could not meet up for a beer, but my meeting resulted in some good results.
Enjoy the rest of your trip, and safe travels.
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Old Nov 22, 18, 9:22 am
  #49  
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Great report thus far and awesome photos - looks like an amazing trip!
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Old Nov 24, 18, 10:51 am
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A great tr, I’m really enjoying this adventure
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Old Dec 4, 18, 9:48 am
  #51  
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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 : www.boardingnow.net/post9

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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Old Dec 7, 18, 7:57 am
  #52  
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Wow, really a dream of a buffet at the lounge....
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Old Dec 8, 18, 1:49 am
  #53  
 
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Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
Wow, really a dream of a buffet at the lounge....
I love the touch with the four (presumably) plastic plants in each corner. They were not there a year ago - must have employed a new Lounge Manager...
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Old Dec 14, 18, 8:47 am
  #54  
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BA/Comair economy class CPT-JNB-LVI

5 days after our arrival in Cape Town and after some very nice days spent in the Southern Cape region, it was time to go towards our next destination, the Victoria Falls, located at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The ones interested in the details of what we visited in the Southern cape region can read the post #10 of my blog : www.boardingnow.net/post10

Flights can be quite pricey to get there, even if flying from South Africa. However, flexibility is always the key when it comes to cheap travel and I was able to find good tickets, in Economy class on BA between Cape Town and Livingstone in Zambia, via Johannesburg. For about 140 Euros one-way, I consider this was a good deal.
To get back to Johannesburg a few days later, I was able to get two award tickets on BA from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe as the one-way flights out of both LVI or VFA were very expensive (greater than 300 Euros one-way for our dates).
Thanks to the combined visa Zambia/Zimbabwe, available upon arrival at the airport, crossing the border was a formality, but I understand most of the tourists are arriving and leaving from the same side of the border (all the locals we spoke with were quite surprised about the fact we arrived in Zambia and departed from Zimbabwe…)


KAZA/Univisa... (They should change the ink toner of the LVI airport printer !)

As out flight to JNB was quite early in the morning, we stayed the previous night in a hotel near the airport. Checking in the next day using the priority counter was a formality, and despite the rush hour at the security, going through did not take a long time, no more than 5 minutes maybe…


Check-in area BA/Comair CPT


Departure board CPT


CPT waking up...

We then had breakfast at the very good SLOW lounge of CPT airport, and while I found the SLOW lounge in JNB (International terminal) to be very good, the domestic SLOW lounge in CPT is… even better ! The food selection for breakfast was very complete and the dishes tasty, and I love the lounge design, especially considering this one is configured as a mezzanine with outside views ! This is really an excellent lounge – it sets the standards for a domestic lounge !


Slow lounge CPT domestic terminal


Inside the SLOW lounge








A loo with a view !




















Time went fast, and we were soon ready to board our aircraft to Johannesburg, using a bus gate – again.



British Airways (operated by Comair) flight BA6424, November 9th 2018
CPT Cape Town – 06:45
JNB Johannesburg O.R Tambo – 08:45
Boeing 737-800 – ZS-ZWG – Seat 12C, Economy class, aisle.





When I did the online check-in, I selected what I thought was a seat located at the emergency exit row. However, this was incorrect and row 12 was actually the row just before the exit, meaning there was no recline on the seat. Note that the seats on this aircraft were of the newer type with the business class cabin being configured with 6 seats across and the middle seats not in use.Anyway, this was not a big deal due to the very light loading of the plane today. I think we were barely 20 passengers on board, and most of them were located in front of us !I eventually moved of one row after take off for extra comfort…


Boarding completed !

Leg room in economy... (I am 1.88m tall)

They did not have any overselling issues on that one...

Somewhere north-east of Cape Town...

The flight itself was uneventful besides a full breakfast being served in economy, with the choice of an omelette or an English style breakfast option.


Breakfast CPT-JNB

Starting descent towards JNB...

We landed at 08:30 and quickly reached our parking position in the domestic terminal of JNB airport.

I thought that since we cleared security in the same country, the transfer to an international flight out of JNB would have been seamless, with just the need to clear exit immigration. I was wrong as we had to get outside the « sterile » area of the terminal to reach the international part of the terminal like all the passengers departing JNB. This could have been made in a more convenient way, but with 2 hours of connection, we had enough time, although the queue at security and immigration was fairly long…

We spent about 20 minutes at the SLOW lounge in JNB before heading to another bus gate, with the usual inconvenience of the diesel engines running non stop next to us. This time, the exhaust of the bus next to us was almost directly going inside our bus ! For the review of the SLOW lounge in JNB International terminal, please take a look at the previous post related to my flight between JNB to WDH.








British Airways (operated by Comair) flight BA6291, November 9th 2018
JNB Johannesburg O.R Tambo – 11:00
LVI Livingstone, Zambia – 12:45
Boeing 737-800 – ZS-ZWP – Seat 12F, Economy class, aisle. Emergency exit this time !



This particular aircraft was quite old and you could see signs of wear and tear in the cabin. The seats still had ashtrays (!), but I was happy to see that this time, the seatmap was correct and that I selected an emergency exit seat !

The plane was quite full that day but I was happy to see the seat between my friend and I empty. We took off about 15 minutes late due to air traffic congestion.


Push back... with the KQ dreamliner in the background


AF Airbus 380 landing from CDG


Legroom emergency exit


Pre-take off entertainment

The service was nothing to remember about. We were given choice between vegetarian pasta and chicken and the flight attendant noticed only when taking back the meal trays near the end of the flight that my friend had a special meal (she was fine with the vegetarian option, so we actually thought the special meal selection was not applied in economy).


Taking off from JNB


Pasta meal in economy class JNB-LVI. Pretty spicy...

I was hoping to see some nice views of the Victoria falls approaching Livingstone, but could not really see anything else than fields and the Zambeze river before the falls.We landed precisely on time and stationed right in front of the terminal








Approaching LVI airport, views on the Zambeze river...





Livingstone airport was shiny clean and airconditioned, which made the 20 minutes wait to get our visas, bearable, and the KAZA/Univisas issues on the spot against 50 USD each (cash only, although the entire airport has advertisements for Mastercard, claiming it was « the best way to pay in Zambia » :-D




And no, you cannot pay with Mastercard for your Visa... (no bad wordplay here...)



The luggage was on the belt once we crossed immigration and our shuttle driver to the Protea hotel Livingstone was already waiting for us at the exit of the airport… BTW, I would recommend this hotel if one needs an affordable and comfortable hotel near Victoria Falls. Unlike some of the Protea hotels were tried or saw in Namibia, the Protea Livingstone hotel was very nice, and the staff was great, especially Charity working at the restaurant ! The restaurant was good, and affordable and internet was working well. It is located a few kilometers away from the city center and about 10 km away from the border with Zimbabwe and the Zambian part of the Victoria Falls national park… but the wildlife is almost next door !


Protea hotel Livingstone, Zambia

The road between Livingstone, Zambia and the Zimbabwe border / Victoria Falls national park

You certainly don't want to have a too close encounter with that one !
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Old Dec 14, 18, 8:57 am
  #55  
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On a side note, although I am now resizing all my pictures to something like 800x600, which means all of them are less than 1MB, I am still facing some issues uploading the pictures on the posts, with some random errors (most likely due to poor internet connections) but sometimes, it remains stuck at 100%... without showing the pictures.
I am not willing to pay for a image sharing service and find the one used on the flyertalk interface to be quite ok otherwise.
Also, how do you guys typically prepare your trip reports ? On my side, I am typing the text on microsoft word, which has the advantage to be accessible offline, while in the air for example. Then I copy / paste sections into a new post and add the pictures related to the content I just pasted afterwards. I am seeing quite some formatting issues in a sense that all the line breaks I have one word get pasted properly, but when I click on preview post, all the spaces and line breaks disappear, and I have to repeat a lot of time consuming formatting tasks. Same goes for the picture titles where I need to add some line breaks again although those breaks were showing up on the editing window. I am not selecting the source option when adding some new posts as i know this resets most of the formatting. I will mention this issue on another thread related to website issues, but since some of you are regular contributors to FT, I was interested to know how you add content on FT...
Just FYI, posting this quite simple last post took me 90 minutes tonight (partly due to a poor internet connection in Penang, Malaysia where I am now, but that's not the only reason...) The content creation on MS Word and the picture selection/resizing did not take more than 60 minutes total I think... And I am not even reporting yet some interesting stuff like the 9 day cruise or the first class trips on CX and AF ! :-D
Thanks for your help, and also for reading !
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Old Dec 16, 18, 4:49 pm
  #56  
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Great report so far! Keep it going...
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Old Dec 17, 18, 3:16 am
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I use IrfanView for my image management, it allows you to batch conversion of files to a range of requirements, ie change format, file size, resolution etc

https://www.irfanview.com
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Old Dec 17, 18, 5:07 am
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LVI has changed a lot since the last visit 8 years ago. Not tempted by KQ direct flight CPT-LVI?
The bonus with KQ is the free fly over the Falls. 4 fly-overs on 4 flights (well 3 via LVI and 1 via VFA). No need to pay for the dire Flight of Angel in helico or ultra light aircraft


Originally Posted by palmanfr View Post
I am seeing quite some formatting issues in a sense that all the line breaks I have one word get pasted properly, but when I click on preview post, all the spaces and line breaks disappear, and I have to repeat a lot of time consuming formatting tasks. Same goes for the picture titles where I need to add some line breaks again although those breaks were showing up on the editing window. I am not selecting the source option when adding some new posts as i know this resets most of the formatting. I will mention this issue on another thread related to website issues, but since some of you are regular contributors to FT, I was interested to know how you add content on FT...
Once image and internet links are added to your trip report text, you should copy and paste everything in the Notepad first (Bloc note en Français after seeing your passport ). From here you can copy and paste to post on Flyertalk.
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Old Dec 17, 18, 5:47 am
  #59  
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Originally Posted by flying_blue_white_red View Post
LVI has changed a lot since the last visit 8 years ago. Not tempted by KQ direct flight CPT-LVI?
The bonus with KQ is the free fly over the Falls. 4 fly-overs on 4 flights (well 3 via LVI and 1 via VFA). No need to pay for the dire Flight of Angel in helico or ultra light aircraft




Once image and internet links are added to your trip report text, you should copy and paste everything in the Notepad first (Bloc note en Français after seeing your passport ). From here you can copy and paste to post on Flyertalk.
Yeah, I was intially interested by the 5th freedom CPT-LVI from KQ (they offer also flights to/from VFA btw) but there was zero reward availability on my dates (or for an insane 50000 FB miles one way in business class one the Embraer !
I will try to use the bloc notes then... seems like MS word is too fancy nowadays - let's go back to the basics :-)
Cheers,
Guillaume
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Old Dec 17, 18, 12:15 pm
  #60  
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Epic! Have you sold the movie rights yet?
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