Airports tagged posts

Trip Report: South African Airways New A333 Business Class Johannesburg to Sao Paulo, Sans Camera

Category: AirlinesTrip Reports Comments: No comments

This is part 18 of my series exploring my March 2017 trip to South Africa and Namibia, which started here.

South African Airways Flt. 222 Johannesburg to Sao Paulo – Guarulhos
Sched. Dep. 11:15am              Sched. Arr. 4:00pm
Actual Dep. 11:07am                Actual Arr. 3:30pm
A330-300, Business Class

My trip back home was an unusual, but not that illogical, route using Aeroplan miles, flying South African Airways from Johannesburg to Sao Paolo, then United from Sao Paolo to Dulles.  It’s about the same length as a routing via Europe, and was available on the day I wanted to travel in business class.

You may no notice that I have pretty much no pictures of my trip from Johannesburg to Sao Paolo, for reasons that will be explained later...

Read More

Trip Report:  SA Express Walvis Bay to Johannesburg

Category: Trip Reports Comments: No comments

SA Express Flt 1702  WVB to JNB
Boeing 737-300, Economy
Sched. Dep. 2:45pm   Sched. Arr.4:55pm
Actual Dep. 3:00pm   Actual Arr. 5:18pm

This is part 14 of my series exploring my March 2017 trip to South Africa and Namibia, which started here.

So this was a very strange flight.

Swakopmund doesn’t have its own airport with commercial service, but the Walvis Bay International Airport is not very far, about a 40 minute drive away.  I had pre-booked a transfer, which came just on time, and the owner, a German Namibian woman provided me with some interesting commentary as we drove down.  The drive is actually quite pretty, as there are picturesque sand dunes on the left and the ocean is on the right.

Dunes en route from Swakopmund to WVB

Walvis Bay is Namibia’s largest airport outside o...

Read More

Air Namibia Cape Town to Windhoek:  Shenanigans, or the 2 Hour Flight That Became an All-Day Journey

Category: AirlinesTrip Reports Comments: No comments

This is part 10 of my series exploring my March 2017 trip to South Africa and Namibia, which started here.

Air Namibia Flt. 704  Cape Town to Windhoek (via Walvis Bay)

Sched. Dep. 11:30am    Actual Dep. 1:09pm
Sched. Arr.  1:20pm   Actual Arr. 4:30pm
A319, Coach

In the aftermath of Unitedgate, where everyone became an expert on the ins and outs of the airline industry, consumer protection law, the history of regulation in America, and police brutality, and became attuned to bumping of one guy as the great moral crisis of our time, someone told me I didn’t have any knowledge about the airline industry, as my blog is just about business class flights.  Now none of my last five blog posts had anything to do with flights at all, but this one will be – but don’t worry – it was in coach.  The only other thing I’ll say about what’s going on with United?  It reminds me of a famous saying: “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.”  Now onto Air Namibia….

I had two nonstop options to get from Cape Town to Windhoek: Air Namibia and SA Airlink. They both fly two flights a day.  Air Namibia has an 11:30am flight, and an evening flight; SA Airlink has a 6:30am flight and a 2:55pm flight.  Neither airline is known as phenomenal, but they’re not fly-by-night operations. (Air Namibia’s IATA code is SW, going back to the country’s days as South West Africa).  Air Namibia is a pretty small airline, fully owned by the Namibian government, with a fleet of only 10 planes – 4 A319s, 4 ERJ-135s, and 2 A330-200s.  The A332s are used for its one long-haul flight, to Frankfurt, whereas the A319s and Embraers fly out of Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International (WDH), Windhoek’s smaller domestic Eros Airport, and Walvis Bay.

I decided to go with the Air Namibia midday flight as it would allow me a few hours in the late afternoon to explore Windhoek, and paid a bit more than the 2:55pm Airlink flight. Alas, that was for naught.

Read More

New Zealand Conclusion:  LAX Admirals Club and LAX-DCA in American Main Cabin Extra

Category: AirlinesTrip Reports Comments: No comments

This is the conclusion of my 16-part series about my November 2016 trip to New Zealand, booked off a $215 mistake fare.

I’ve actually never connected at LAX before.  Particularly if you have luggage, I don’t recommend an international connection there.  Landing at the Tom Bradley International Terminal itself wasn’t that bad, and there was no line to clear immigration at Global Entry.  A lot of people were trying to go through Global Entry when they didn’t have Global Entry, causing a bit of a backup at the desk where you leave the kiosk area.  (As with MIA, it slightly defeats the purpose of Global Entry to require interacting with a human on the way out of immigration itself.)

Bags had already started coming onto the belt when I got through, and mine came pretty quickly, eve...

Read More

The Long Journey Home, Part 2: Sydney to Los Angeles (SYD-LAX), Qantas Economy A380

Category: AirlinesTrip Reports Comments: No comments

This is part 15 in a series about my November 2016 trip to New Zealand, booked off a $215 mistake fare.

Sydney International Departures

I had a momentary panic upon landing at SYD, as the monitors showed the flight to LAX as canceled.  I soon realized, though, that it was the American flight that was canceled, not the Qantas one.  It was a long walk from where my AKL flight landed to the Qantas Business Lounge.  While the lounge is quite large, it was quite full.  (Still, I didn’t bother with any of the Priority Pass or AmEx options.).  The lounge staff actually made announcements asking people not to take seats up with luggage.   I had hoped to start to adjust my body to US time, where it was around 6pm, but unfortunately I had traveled back in time, so it was still a breakfast spread at the lounge.  The spread was basically a larger version of what I’d had on the plane and in the Qantas Club in Auckland, scrambled eggs, beans, tomatoes, sausage, hash browns – plus a bit wider variety of pastries.  There was a full self-serve liquor and soft drink display, a juice bar, and a coffee bar- which was the most notable difference from AKL.

Read More

The Long Journey Home, Part 1:  Qantas Auckland to Sydney (AKL-SYD), Trans-Tasman Economy

Category: AirlinesTrip Reports Comments: No comments

This is part 14 in a series about my November 2016 trip to New Zealand, booked off a $215 mistake fare.

Unfortunately, my great deal on my ticket to New Zealand required transiting through Sydney on the return, which added a significant amount of time to the journey – about five hours between the layover and three hour flight from Auckland to Sydney.  I decided against spending a day in L.A. on the return figuring I would just want to get home (not expecting that DC would be an entirely depressing place to be).  So that meant that if all went according to plan, I would have a travel time of 27 hours straight from my AKL departure to my arrival at DCA.

My flight out of Auckland was at 7:35am.  I had originally planned to take an Uber at 5:30, but I ended up leaving at 5, because when I tried to check in the day before I had gotten an error suggesting my US passport was not enough for me to enter back into the country.  Had the borders already tightened???  Was I blacklisted by America?   Upon arriving at AKL, there was a bit of a line at the Qantas counter, but the separate priority check-in wasn’t bad.  There was no problem checking me in, and the friendly agent explained where the Qantas lounge was, and gave me a sticker for Express Lane immigration and security as a Oneworld Emerald passenger.

There was a food court and shopping before immigration at the AKL International Terminal, but I decided to just go through. I didn’t actually use the express lane, because there was no line at the E-gates that U.S. passport holders can use.  That line led right into security, which had no real wait.  I then spent the last of my NZD on a gift, and headed to the Qantas Club.

Qantas Club AKL

Read More

2016 Index and Year in Review

Category: About YWWAirlinesHotelsTrip Reports Comments: No comments

I won’t belabor the point, but 2016 was pretty terrible.  My travels were pretty good,though.  I still owe you all a few posts from my November New Zealand adventure, but as we say goodbye to the dumpster-fire of 2016, here’s a look back at my year in travel.  For previous years’ retrospectives, check out 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

2016, yeah!

I’ve kept the blog as a travelogue, continuing to blog less and less about things other than my personal travel given how crowded the space is for “hacking” and “free” points.  Going into 2017, I’ve requalified for American elite status (Platinum), and let my hotel status’ drop down to be those I have via credit card (Hyatt Platinum/Discoverist, Marriott/SPG Gold, Hilton Gold, IHG Platinum) and Intercontinental Ambassador.

So, what were my tra...

Read More

Mini-Report:  Air New Zealand Queenstown to Auckland

Category: AirlinesTrip Reports Comments: No comments

This is part 11 in a series about my November 2016 trip to New Zealand, booked off a $215 mistake fare.

Air New Zealand Flt. 644
A320, Single-Cabin Economy
Sch. Dep. 2:30pm        Sch. Arr. 4:20pm
Act. Dep. 2:50pm        Act. Dep. 4:43pm

Queenstown International Airport (ZQN)

The Queenstown airport is pretty small.  I really could have taken an extra hour exploring Queenstown, as it took me 20 minutes to fill up the rental car tank, drop the car at Ace, and walk across the street to the terminal (no bus required at Ace’s Queenstown location as opposed to Christchurch).   I did obtain my post-election survival kit at the gas station:

I recommend a peanut slab.

Check-in and bag drop was easy, with no waits at the Air New Zealand kiosks.  The airport only has nine gates, and no jetways.  The

Read More

Mini-Trip Report:  Wellington to Christchurch on an Air New Zealand ATR-72 and the Odd Wellington Airport

Category: AirlinesTrip Reports Comments: No comments

This is part 6 in a series about my November 2016 trip to New Zealand, booked off a $215 mistake fare.

From Wellington, I was headed to the South Island, where I’d spend the bulk of the remainder of my trip, making my way by car from Christchurch in the northeast-ish to Queenstown in the southmiddle-ish.   As with my ticket from Auckland to Wellington, I had purchased a Flexitime ticket on Air New Zealand.  One advantage of Air New Zealand’s flexitime tickets is you can buy a ticket for the cheapest flight of the day, and try to change to your preferred time that day – which works particularly well on routes with tons of flights.  In my case, the 7:45AM flight from Wellington to Christchurch was $100 less than the other flights that day (which are basically hourly, even on Sunday).  So I paid a few extra dollars and for about $75 total got my ticket including baggage.  Then promptly at midnight, I opened up the Air New Zealand app, and every flight that day was available to change to for free.  I was torn between the 11am and 12:30pm.  There wasn’t a whole lot I wanted to do in Christchurch, though, and I was on vacation, so I went with the 12:30 and slept until around 9.  Even with stopping for a scone and a flat white on the way, and then just missing a bus (they run every 20 minutes), I was at the airport around 10:25 and could have made the 11am, although I probably missed the bag cut-off.

The Wellington Airport is one of the strangest airports I’ve ever been to.  It’s a pretty small airport for a Western capital, and only the third busiest in New Zealand.  There are very few international flights out of WLG except for those to/from Australia, just Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand to Nadi. The bus drops you off on the arrivals level, and you walk up from there, and you’re in the gate area.  Not in the terminal, the gate area – as there is no security whatsoever for the gates serving regional jets – which is most of the airport, including the gate for my  Air New Zealand regional flight operated by Mount Cook Airlines.  Air New Zealand is in the process of building a Regional Lounge for these pre-security gates, as its Domestic Lounge is behind security.

Main, no-security area at WLG

Main, no-security area at WLG

Read More

Mini-report: AKL Transfers and Air New Zealand Economy Auckland to Wellington

Category: AirlinesTrip Reports Comments: One comment

This is part 3 in a series about my November 2016 trip to New Zealand, booked off a $215 mistake fare.

The two airlines operating on the three domestic routes I traveled  within New Zealand were Jetstar, the lowcost subsidiary of Qantas, and Air New Zealand.  I ended up booking Air New Zealand on all three of my domestic flights, mostly based on price (with baggage).  When I booked my flight from L.A. to Auckland, it was scheduled to land at 7:45AM, so I booked an onward flight to Wellington for 10:30AM.  Air New Zealand has an option to buy a “Flexi-time” fare, which is only a bit more than a standard bag + seat fare.  With that option, you can change your flight for free on the day of to any other flight on the same route with open seats. Since I wouldn’t be protected if there was an issue with my flight from the States, this was a great option.  Prior to departure, a schedule change had my LAX-AKL flight pushed back to land at 8:15AM, which would be tight, given the need to clear immigration and customs and transiting terminals.  Since the flight was even further delay to land at about 9 am, at a remote stand, flexitime was a smooth move, even though Auckland transfer was pretty simple.20161103_112224

I ended up being the last one on the first bus to the international terminal, so the first one off.  I actually stopped at the duty-free shop before immigration as there was a Vodafone counter, where I was able to buy a Vodafone Travel Sim card with 3 GB of data and two hundred minutes of domestic/international calls and two hundred texts for 43 NZD (~$32).  The agent set it up and activated it super quickly, so I was able to effortlessly switch to the 12pm flight to Wellington for free on the Air New Zealand app.  (I probably would have made the 11am flight, but I was glad to be able to have a leisurely pace.)  Auckland has electronic gates for holders of US, UK, Canada, and Australia passports, and there were plenty of kiosks and no wait.  My bag was already on the carousel as I reached baggage claim, so I pretty quickly made it to the customs area where bags are x-rayed, and then was in the arrivals hall of the International terminal.

There are no spec...

Read More