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Topic: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: MHTripple7
Posted 2012-11-19 12:58:08 and read 12556 times.



Introduction:


Like many things in Angola, planning for this domestic “adventure” occurred at the last possible second! See my previous report to find out what the heck I was doing in Angola:

Taag Angola 777-300ER Lisbon-Luanda In Y (by MHTripple7 Nov 7 2012 in Trip Reports)

Anyways, I was informed by my host, Nuno, upon my arrival into Luanda that TAAG Virtual was attending this business exposition in Lubango called Expo Huila. They were to bring their $12,000 flight simulator (3 large LCD screens, 2 yokes, rudder pedals, a throttle quadrant, and two seats) to Expo Huila, where they would set it up at TAAG Angola’s stand for attenders to stop by and give the simulator a try. Since this was good marketing for real-world TAAG, they were allegedly allowing six TAAG virtual pilots to fly to Lubango and back for free, all expenses paid for. I was the 7th, so if I wanted to go I would need to pay for my ticket.

Since my host, Nuno, is the CEO of TAAG Virtual, he was obviously one of the 6 flying to Lubango for free. I thought Lubango sounded really interesting, and the idea of me staying in Luanda by myself without Nuno was not very appealing, so I decided that I would pay for a ticket to Lubango.

This was decided on Monday, and the 6 TAAG Virtual pilots were scheduled to fly on Tuesday morning’s 6:00 AM flight to Lubango. Here’s where the fun started!

It is still commonplace in Angola to buy tickets at airline offices, so we went to the TAAG ticket office at the international terminal at LAD. We stood there for a few minutes and apparently they weren’t issuing domestic flight tickets. Next, we drove over to the domestic terminal ticket office. We stood outside the office for about 30 minutes and the line didn’t move an inch, and it didn’t look like they were doing anything inside. It was decided that it would be best to buy my ticket over the internet.

We got back to Nuno’s house where we logged onto www.taag.com and tried to buy my ticket for tomorrow’s flight. No such luck, the flight was full. In fact all flights to Lubango tomorrow were full. Well that wasn’t good; I needed to be on that flight. Check-in for tomorrow’s flight was to take place at 7 PM that evening (that’s what they do in LAD for early morning flights). I started to worry but Nuno told me that I should just buy a ticket for a flight to Lubango 2 days later, and that I would get onto tomorrow morning’s flight at the airport that evening. Even though the flight was full, he was extremely confident I’d get on it. We e-mailed my ticket number to our friend Nelson (TAAG flight dispatcher), and he forwarded it to someone else at TAAG ticketing.

Luanda (LAD):


I went to the airport that evening with Nuno and Nelson. We arrived at the domestic terminal, which was a temporary tent (new terminal under construction). Nelson walked us to a TAAG office behind the check-in desks, which was apparently where they supervised domestic flight check-in and operations. Nelson introduced us to the staff working in said office, who were all pretty friendly. We stood in there for about 15 minutes and I had no idea what was going on. Then we found out that none of the TAAG Virtual pilots were confirmed on the next morning’s flight, and that we were all in fact waitlisted.

The flight was still full and nobody had the slightest bit of concern. Why wasn’t anyone anxious?! “We will get on, don’t worry” is what I kept hearing. We sat in the office for another hour or so without any progress in that regard, and then left the airport.

We woke up at 2:30 AM the next morning and went around picking up the other TAAG Virtual pilots. The flight simulator was driven in a flatbed truck to the airport. Arriving at the tent domestic terminal, we went to that the same back office as the night before and stood around for a bit. We were waiting for the same person who was in the office last night. I decided that at this point to throw my worry and anxiety out the window. I didn’t need to start growing grey hairs at 19. If we got on, then great. If not, then it would work itself out. I ended up just hanging out with another TAAG Virtual pilot for a while, Antonio, who had just gotten back from Portugal and was trying to get to Lubango as well. We had a great conversation about Angola and its future.

About an hour later, like magic, Nuno appeared out of this back office with 7 boarding passes. Haha you’re kidding me! How did that happen?! But naturally there was still a problem. Security didn’t want to let us check our flight simulator as checked luggage. That sounded bad. Once again, nobody appeared worried in the slightest. Someone from TAAG then went over to the security agents and somehow convinced them to let us take our flight simulator. Problem solved!

That wasn’t it though. Our departure time was fast-approaching, and there was a really long line to check our baggage (including the flight simulator). Well unsurprisingly at this point, someone from TAAG again brought us to the front of the line and we began checking everything. The sight of us checking 3 huge LCD screens, 2 yokes, 2 chairs, a throttle panel, and a table was probably one of the most bizarre and hilarious things I’ve ever seen.





Next was a boarding pass check, security, and then “immigration” where they examined my passport and visa. We power walked to our gate where we were the last to board the bus. I couldn’t believe anything that had just happened, but we made it.

TAAG Angola Airlines flight DT 483:




Date: 14 August 2011
Airline: TAAG Angola Airlines
Flight: DT 483
Aircraft: Boeing 737-7M2
Aircraft Reg: D2-TBH
Departure City: Luanda, Angola
Departure Airport: Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport (LAD / FNLU)
Arrival City: Lubango, Angola
Arrival Airport: Mukanka Airport (SDD / FNUB)
Stop City: Ondjiva, Angola
Stop Airport: 11 de Novembro Airport (VPE / FNGI)
Scheduled Departure Time: 6:00 AM
Actual Departure Time: 6:28 AM (28 min late, pushback from stand)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 9:05 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 9:18 (13 min late, on stand)
Class: Economy
Estimated Load Factor: 100% (Luanda-Ondjiva), 50% (Ondjiva-Lubango)

The bus took us to our Boeing 737-700, registered D2-TBH (delivered in 2006).





I was convinced this flight was still overbooked, and freaked out when someone was sitting in my seat. I asked her if she was in her assigned seat, to which she responded “open seating”. Okay! Southwest Airlines in Angola. I immediately found an open center seat and sat down as quickly as possible.

I sat next to an Indian guy who had lived in Angola for 20 years or something. Interesting!

Doors were closed 25 minutes late, and the safety video was shown on the drop-down LCD screens (in Portuguese only). Pushback commenced 3 minutes later, and taxi to runway 23 was short.



D2-TEF, most likely having just arrived from Brazil or OPO.



We were number one for takeoff, and banked left immediately after departure.





That stupid “Just for Laughs” show was displayed on the drop-down screens, and surprisingly the audio was played over the P/A system.





The captain welcomed us on-board, gave us details about our route, and thanked us for flying TAAG.





Legroom was pretty much standard for a 737.



The cabin service was promptly started upon reaching our cruise altitude, which consisted of a fairly well-stocked snack box.



The bread and juice were both very tasty. I believe LSG SkyChefs has taken over catering in Luanda.



After eating, I just chilled out and listened to my iPod.







Before I knew it, our descent had begun into Ondjiva. The terrain looked much more stereotypically “African” than the rest of the country. It’s amazing that only an hour flight south can lead to such a drastic change.





Ondjiva (VPE):


We parked at the stand, and were asked to de-plane the aircraft as they re-fueled. As we walked off the aircraft, we were handed transit cards.





Ondjiva Airport was actually incredibly nice! It was small for sure, but I was impressed with the design.



After about 15-20 minutes, our flight began boarding again. Considering all of us wanted window seats this time, we made sure to get on the plane first!



I really liked the internal appearance of TAAG’s cabins. The blue-yellow-blue colorscheme, while not traditional, looked great.







The doors were closed fairly promptly, as this flight was only about half full. What happened next should not have even been a surprise to me at that point. Out of seemingly nowhere, a flight attendant came back to where we were sitting, said something to Antonio, and whisked him off to the flight deck where he sat in the jumpseat for takeoff!

Apparently, the captain of our flight was the father of the founder of TAAG Virtual! I couldn’t believe it. Everyone seemed to know each other in Angola!

We backtracked and took off from runway 31, making a right turn shortly after departure.







The flight attendants on this flight were younger, happier, and friendlier than on my LIS-LAD flight. They weren’t afraid to smile, which went a long way.

There was no meal service on this sector, which was understandable considering how short the flight was.



Descent into Lubango came quickly; VPE-SDD is only a 30 minute flight.



Shortly before commencing our final approach, a flight attendant again came back and started talking to Nuno in Portuguese. I knew what was happening this time, so I quickly gave Nuno my video camera and asked him to film our landing to which he happily obliged!



Meanwhile, I continued to snap pictures of the unique landscape.











Touchdown on runway 28 was smooth, and our rollout followed without a hitch.









Old terminal:



New terminal:



Lubango (SDD):


We all disembarked from the rear door, and as I sat foot on the ground in Lubango, I truthfully couldn’t believe we had made it. The temperature felt great, and morale was high amongst us TAAG Virtual pilots.

However, this was before going through “immigration”. For some reason, Angolan airports have arrival “immigration”, even for domestic flights, to make sure nobody is violating / overstaying their visa. My conversation with the immigration officer went something like this:

Officer: “Are you here on a tourist visa?”
Me: “Nope! I’m visiting my friend who is standing right over there.”
Officer: “Where? I don’t see him.”
Me: “Right there!”

Nuno then came over and started talking to the immigration officer in Portuguese. Voices were raised and an argument seemed to be developing in front of me. I began to get nervous, but tried to look as calm and relaxed as possible. The other TAAG Virtual pilots came over to stand with me as this altercation ensued. After two minutes or so of arguing, Nuno got the better of the immigration officer, and I was let through without much idea of what just happened.

Apparently, the officer did not like that I was traveling with TAAG Virtual (a group of virtual pilots, mind you), and that my visa did not mention TAAG Virtual in it. You’re kidding me!

This little “issue” signifies a critical dynamic about Angola. The Angolan government’s attitude towards foreigners traveling in their country seems to be one of suspicion. I’m not sure why I feel this way, but the extreme visa requirements, strict document checks, and general demeanor of government officials towards visitors left me feeling rather unwelcome.

However, Angola is a country of contrasts. Just as one government official tries to raise hell with my visa, I’ve got six other Angolans who completely have my back; standing by ready to ensure nothing bad happens to me. That in itself left an immense feeling of comfort resonating within me, and truthfully, it was feelings and moments like those which really defined my trip in a positive way.





Conclusion:


This whole experience, without a doubt, was one of the craziest travel fiascos I’ve probably endured. To this day, I don’t quite understand how Nuno got us on that flight. Were there enough no-shows, or did they in fact offload people from the flight to accommodate us? There’s really no way of knowing! Taking a step back, and simply leaving all stress and anxiety behind, was probably the best choice I could have made throughout this experience. I just decided to observe what was happening, and get humor out of things that truthfully would never happen in the United States. TAAG was in fact great throughout this ordeal! They held the plane for us, provided great service, and most importantly showed that they care about people with an interest in aviation. This wasn’t the U.S., where aviation enthusiasm is looked upon as a bizarre and sketchy interest, but a country and airline that embraces those passionate about flying!

For those interested, here is a video of my return flight from Lubango to Luanda:



Continued Below

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: MHTripple7
Posted 2012-11-19 13:00:43 and read 12556 times.

Lubango, Angola:


Being Angola’s fourth largest city behind Luanda, Cabinda, and Huambo; Lubango is scenically situated atop a plateau among the mountains in southern Angola. I found Lubango to be a nice, quaint, city that reminded me a little of Whindhoek, Namibia.

We spent most of the first day getting situated in our lodge (owned by TAAG) and preparing for Expo Huila.





From left to right: Bruno, Pedro, Ivandro, Nuno, and William. A bunch of goofs!





New hotel (unsure of the name):



Kimbo do Soba Lodge (one of the best restaurants in town as well):









Lunch at Kimbo do Soba:





Not just in Rio!



Dinner time:







Bumper cars:





MPLA (ruling party) everywhere:



Expo Huila:









I also found some more pictures from Luanda that I thought I’d share.

Me, Nelson, and Nuno at a party at Nuno’s house (Angolans know how to party!):



Eating at a very good restaurant in Luanda (the guy second from the left is Leandro, who is a 737 pilot for TAAG):



Me, William, and Ivandro:



Well, this concludes my reports covering my trip to Angola. It was the trip of a lifetime for a variety of reasons, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Nuno and the other TAAG Virtual pilots I had the opportunity to meet. Their generosity and kindness was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before; the rest of the world could seriously learn a lesson from them in that aspect. It will be hard to top this trip, and I am just so thankful I had the opportunity to do this.

Taag Angola 777-300ER Lisbon-Luanda In Y (by MHTripple7 Nov 7 2012 in Trip Reports)
Aborted Landing And Diversion: Qantas 738 SYD-ZQN (by MHTripple7 Jul 13 2011 in Trip Reports)
Virgin Blue 737-800 Sydney-Cairns In Y (by MHTripple7 May 9 2011 in Trip Reports)
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Taag Angola 777-200ER Lisbon-Luanda In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 29 2010 in Trip Reports)
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Thai Airways A340-500 CNX-BKK In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Apr 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
Bangkok Airways A319 BKK-REP In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Mar 30 2010 in Trip Reports)
Asiana Airlines 747-400 LAX-ICN In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Mar 28 2010 in Trip Reports)
Delta 737-700 ATL-SXM In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 5 2009 in Trip Reports)
Air India 777-200LR DEL-JFK In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jan 11 2009 in Trip Reports)
Drukair A319 PBH-DEL In Y W/TONS Of Pix/Vid (by MHTripple7 Jan 10 2009 in Trip Reports)
Air India 777-200LR JFK-DEL In C W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jan 5 2009 in Trip Reports)
South African 737-800 JNB-CPT In C W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Sep 21 2008 in Trip Reports)
South African BAe 146-200 LVI-JNB In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 13 2008 in Trip Reports)
Delta 767-400ER JNB-ATL In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Aug 1 2008 in Trip Reports)
Air Botswana BAe 146-100 JNB-MUB In Y W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jul 23 2008 in Trip Reports)
Air France 777-300ER CDG-JNB In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jul 23 2008 in Trip Reports)
Air France A330-200 DTW-CDG In J W/Pix (by MHTripple7 Jul 22 2008 in Trip Reports)
Delta 737-800 JFK-TPA (Pix And Vid) (by MHTripple7 Apr 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
Jet Airways 777 DEL-JFK Mar 28 2008 Pix (by MHTripple7 Mar 29 2008 in Trip Reports)
Jet Airways 9W707 W/Diversion (Pix) (by MHTripple7 Mar 22 2008 in Trip Reports)
Jet Airways 777-300ER JFK-DEL ( Pix) (by MHTripple7 Mar 21 2008 in Trip Reports)

[Edited 2012-11-19 13:27:35]

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: 817Dreamliiner
Posted 2012-11-19 15:54:57 and read 12556 times.

Awesome report!

I guess you guys were lucky to get on the flight to Lubango, Looks like a really nice place! Your pics are great, Thanks for sharing.

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: AirAfreak
Posted 2012-11-19 16:38:00 and read 12556 times.

Hello again!!!!!


Again, wonderful trip report!!!! I love to see the domestic services and compare them between Intra-US and Intra-Europe! Intra-Asia makes the rest of the world put to shame it seems. lol!

What was your mileage earning situation for these segments?

Thank you again and wonderful to hear you had another great time in Angola in a new city!

Bon Voyage,

Air Afreak

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: 767747
Posted 2012-11-19 18:21:04 and read 12556 times.

Another really good report, MHTripple7,

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
We got back to Nuno’s house where we logged onto www.taag.com and tried to buy my ticket for tomorrow’s flight. No such luck, the flight was full. In fact all flights to Lubango tomorrow were full. Well that wasn’t good; I needed to be on that flight. Check-in for tomorrow’s flight was to take place at 7 PM that evening (that’s what they do in LAD for early morning flights). I started to worry but Nuno told me that I should just buy a ticket for a flight to Lubango 2 days later, and that I would get onto tomorrow morning’s flight at the airport that evening. Even though the flight was full, he was extremely confident I’d get on it. We e-mailed my ticket number to our friend Nelson (TAAG flight dispatcher), and he forwarded it to someone else at TAAG ticketing.

What a stressful process! I'm always amazed how much patience you have with all this ticketing stuff!  

What an amazing trip - one you'll never forget! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Best,
Matthew (767747)

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: ATLFlyer323
Posted 2012-11-19 19:40:16 and read 12556 times.

Great report again! TAAG has always caught my interest because of their wonderful livery, so it's great to read your reports. Keep em comin for all us poor guys who can't afford to fly!  

-Brandon

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-11-20 07:26:55 and read 12556 times.

Another gripping Taag installment! I love to hear how things work out in less conventional countries! Sometimes good, sometime bad, often bizarre. Lucky that you made the flight in the end. Given that Taag gave the group 6 tickets, i'm surprised (should I be?) that they were waitlist only.

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: The777Man
Posted 2012-11-20 10:28:19 and read 12556 times.

Hi Will !

Thanks for another fantastic report on TAAG with amazing pictures !

The whole process of getting a ticket and checking in sounds crazy and very confusing! I would have been very stressed too but since you were with locals, everything worked out.

Angola seems much more modern than I imagined it and it would be very interesting to visit some time but it seems difficult now with the need for an invitation.

Thanks again for posting the report!

The777Man

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: aerdingus
Posted 2012-11-21 03:23:21 and read 12401 times.

Can I just say, this is not only a great trip report, but a great STORY! The flight sim guys who want to show off their stuff, the story of new friendship, of seeing Africa, & of course the fact that you went all alone! Aside from this, great trip report aswell, very interesting to see TAAG, especially domestic flights as not many of us would have the chance to see that.

Well done  

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: MHTripple7
Posted 2012-11-22 13:29:49 and read 11859 times.

Quoting 817Dreamliiner (Reply 2):

Awesome report!

I guess you guys were lucky to get on the flight to Lubango, Looks like a really nice place! Your pics are great, Thanks for sharing.

Thanks Dreamliiner! Yes we were very lucky, and the whole process made so little sense to me.

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 3):
Again, wonderful trip report!!!! I love to see the domestic services and compare them between Intra-US and Intra-Europe! Intra-Asia makes the rest of the world put to shame it seems. lol!

Thank you AirAfreak! Yes, I'd definitely agree about Asia being the best. U.S. is reliable, but the service is pretty terrible. Africa is just a whole different animal haha.

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 3):
What was your mileage earning situation for these segments?

Well I earned TAAG FF miles. But those aren't very useful for me!

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 3):
Thank you again and wonderful to hear you had another great time in Angola in a new city!

You're welcome! I am glad you enjoyed.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 4):
What a stressful process! I'm always amazed how much patience you have with all this ticketing stuff!  

Oh believe me, if this were happening in the U.S. I would be throwing a fit! I just decided to go with the flow in this case. I was with locals, so I felt they knew how to work the system.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 4):
What an amazing trip - one you'll never forget! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Thanks 767747!

Quoting ATLFlyer323 (Reply 5):

Great report again! TAAG has always caught my interest because of their wonderful livery, so it's great to read your reports. Keep em comin for all us poor guys who can't afford to fly!  

I appreciate the kind words, ATLFlyer323! I like the TAAG livery as well, but I wish they would update it. It just doesn't look modern!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 6):

Another gripping Taag installment! I love to hear how things work out in less conventional countries! Sometimes good, sometime bad, often bizarre. Lucky that you made the flight in the end. Given that Taag gave the group 6 tickets, i'm surprised (should I be?) that they were waitlist only.

Thanks gabrielchew. Haha, yes "bizarre" would be a great word to describe it! Well, for reasons that are unknown to me, Nuno did not actually book the flights until the day before. That was probably the fundamental problem. I am guessing that by the time TAAG actually went to ticket the flights, they had filled up. The most shocking thing of all was how nobody was worried in the slightest. They all universally believed there was a 100% chance of getting on the flight. It turned out they were right!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 7):
Thanks for another fantastic report on TAAG with amazing pictures !

Hey Lars! Thank you.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 7):
The whole process of getting a ticket and checking in sounds crazy and very confusing! I would have been very stressed too but since you were with locals, everything worked out.

As I mentioned earlier, the only reason I went along with the whole thing was that I figured my friends knew how to work the system better than I. Although I am still scratching my head as to why this trip wasn't planned at least a week in advanced. They seem to enjoy pushing all planning to the last possible second to ensure maximum stress!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 7):
Angola seems much more modern than I imagined it and it would be very interesting to visit some time but it seems difficult now with the need for an invitation.

As my host described it, Angola is like angels and demons. Parts of the country are incredibly modern and sophisticated -- anything you'd expect in any first world country (except for outrageous prices). Other parts of the country (majority probably) are incredibly poor and underdeveloped. Hopefully this works itself out as the country develops and experiences sustained stability. The key will be education and a government that is much less involved, corrupt, and bureaucratic. They've come a long way in the last 10-12 years though.

Quoting aerdingus (Reply 8):

Can I just say, this is not only a great trip report, but a great STORY! The flight sim guys who want to show off their stuff, the story of new friendship, of seeing Africa, & of course the fact that you went all alone! Aside from this, great trip report aswell, very interesting to see TAAG, especially domestic flights as not many of us would have the chance to see that.

Thanks aerdingus! That's really nice of you to say.

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: MSS658
Posted 2012-11-23 14:56:01 and read 11519 times.

Hello Will

Very nice report, thanks for sharing! I really did enjoy reading it.
I really like the Angola pics, describes the country quite well and I must say I'm impressed.
TAAG looks good as well, just don't like the SK-style seating

Greetings
Marc

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: PlaneHunter
Posted 2012-11-23 22:47:01 and read 11397 times.

Hi Will,

another great report, what a crazy trip you made! It's sad to see how Angola tries to keep foreigners out.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
The sight of us checking 3 huge LCD screens, 2 yokes, 2 chairs, a throttle panel, and a table was probably one of the most bizarre and hilarious things I’ve ever seen.

And all that in Angola...


PH

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: CaptainRed
Posted 2012-11-24 03:10:23 and read 11307 times.

Hi Will,

wow, another awesome report here, great to read something about this TAAG domestic flights. And what an adventure it was to get on that particular flight. But that's the way it goes in Africa I guess, patience and somehow also persistence goes a long way (and who knows how many banknotes have been passed around discreetly behind the scenes   ). Anyway good to read that you made it on the flight and looks like it was quite a nice flight as well, good service here. Cool thing hat your friends even got cockpit visits.

Also thanks for the pictures about Angola, for sure an interesting country. Just a shame that the put on so much hassle with the visa general attitude of the officials against tourists. Good for you that you had help from the locals in these situations, everything might have been a lot more difficult.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences with us

CaptainRed

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: reifel
Posted 2012-11-25 14:52:30 and read 10929 times.

Hi Again,

thanks so much for sharing this trip as well! Actually, once on board you get the quite european boring 737 standard, huh? I mean "just for laughts" (or whatever it's called) in Luanda? Come on... Wouldn't have expected that. However the ground experience is hilarious. The airports look quite modern though... The immigration thing is strange... Reminds me of China where they take pictures and so of you at some kind of "immigration desks" though you travel domestic. That said I had never had issues with them.

You're very lucky to experience the hospitality of people and to experience this country from an insight that usually no traveller would have.

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: MHTripple7
Posted 2012-12-03 22:01:53 and read 10257 times.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 10):
Very nice report, thanks for sharing! I really did enjoy reading it.
I really like the Angola pics, describes the country quite well and I must say I'm impressed.
TAAG looks good as well, just don't like the SK-style seating

Thanks MSS658! Yeah, Angola has made some very meaningful progress since the end of its civil war. Still a lot of work to be done though! The seats on this flight weren't the most comfortable, however, I did appreciate how they had footrests.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 11):
another great report, what a crazy trip you made! It's sad to see how Angola tries to keep foreigners out.

Thank you PlaneHunter! Yes, it was crazy and I loved it. I think the Angolan government thinks they are doing their citizens a favor by making it difficult for foreigners to enter, but I really believe they are hugely mistaken in that assumption.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 11):
And all that in Angola...

I know... you never would've expected that huh?

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 12):
wow, another awesome report here, great to read something about this TAAG domestic flights. And what an adventure it was to get on that particular flight. But that's the way it goes in Africa I guess, patience and somehow also persistence goes a long way (and who knows how many banknotes have been passed around discreetly behind the scenes   ). Anyway good to read that you made it on the flight and looks like it was quite a nice flight as well, good service here. Cool thing hat your friends even got cockpit visits.

Thank you CaptainRed! Yeah it's a whole different game there. Although, I actuallly don't think any bribes were paid! In fact, I witnessed none of that on my trip. Nuno is well-connected, which undoubtedly helped us out quite a bit though.

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 12):
Also thanks for the pictures about Angola, for sure an interesting country. Just a shame that the put on so much hassle with the visa general attitude of the officials against tourists. Good for you that you had help from the locals in these situations, everything might have been a lot more difficult.

Yes, it would've been mistake to travel to Angola "on my own" in my opinion. I can only hope the government will change its stance on visas.

Quoting reifel (Reply 13):
thanks so much for sharing this trip as well! Actually, once on board you get the quite european boring 737 standard, huh? I mean "just for laughts" (or whatever it's called) in Luanda? Come on... Wouldn't have expected that. However the ground experience is hilarious. The airports look quite modern though... The immigration thing is strange... Reminds me of China where they take pictures and so of you at some kind of "immigration desks" though you travel domestic. That said I had never had issues with them.

Thank you reifel! Haha that is Angola! Some parts are very modern, and then things like the ground experience remind you that you're really quite far from the Old Continent.

Quoting reifel (Reply 13):
You're very lucky to experience the hospitality of people and to experience this country from an insight that usually no traveller would have.

I know. This trip probably falls within the top 10 greatest experiences of my life.

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: eastafspot
Posted 2012-12-04 03:29:54 and read 10141 times.

Hey Man,

This was a very cool report, especially the way you wrote it
How long would it have taken by another form of transport to reach the Expo in Lubango?
The videos are amazing, you got lucky your friend Nuno sat on the J/S  .

Again William, thank you so much for those great moments of adventures

EAS

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: abrelosojos
Posted 2012-12-16 10:53:44 and read 9507 times.

Thanks for the domestic report on TAAG. What I loved about the report is that despite your obvious love for the country, it is balanced and fair. I am going to gloss over your actual flight as it seemed like an "ordinary" inflight 738 experience. Few thoughts:

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
However, this was before going through “immigration”. For some reason, Angolan airports have arrival “immigration”, even for domestic flights, to make sure nobody is violating / overstaying their visa. My conversation with the immigration officer went something like this:

Officer: “Are you here on a tourist visa?”
Me: “Nope! I’m visiting my friend who is standing right over there.”
Officer: “Where? I don’t see him.”
Me: “Right there!”

Nuno then came over and started talking to the immigration officer in Portuguese. Voices were raised and an argument seemed to be developing in front of me. I began to get nervous, but tried to look as calm and relaxed as possible. The other TAAG Virtual pilots came over to stand with me as this altercation ensued. After two minutes or so of arguing, Nuno got the better of the immigration officer, and I was let through without much idea of what just happened.

= I have had the same in Mali. If you recall from my Angola report, something similar happened to me as well. It really leaves a bad taste in your mouth because people like you and me have the backing of higher-up people. I shudder to think what happens to the plethora of workers from other parts of Africa ... or the Chinese "slaves" that come and work in Angola. Did you ever see them? The sight is creepy as they get off buses/planes/etc. and walk single file to their work site.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
Apparently, the officer did not like that I was traveling with TAAG Virtual (a group of virtual pilots, mind you), and that my visa did not mention TAAG Virtual in it. You’re kidding me!

This little “issue” signifies a critical dynamic about Angola. The Angolan government’s attitude towards foreigners traveling in their country seems to be one of suspicion. I’m not sure why I feel this way, but the extreme visa requirements, strict document checks, and general demeanor of government officials towards visitors left me feeling rather unwelcome.

= There is an official belief that everyone is coming to steal their job and resources. While the resources part is partly true, it is still a nexus with the ruling elite. Then again, always easier anywhere in the world to blame the foreigner ...

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
Eating at a very good restaurant in Luanda (the guy second from the left is Leandro, who is a 737 pilot for TAAG):

= Haha ... this is how small Angola is. I am pretty sure I know Leandro or have met him. He is a relative of the woman who is the chief commercial officer (or something like that) responsible for network planning.

Thanks a lot for sharing this report. An incredible adventure for sure. Which country is next for you?!

Saludos,
A.

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: MHTripple7
Posted 2012-12-20 15:24:52 and read 9014 times.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 15):
This was a very cool report, especially the way you wrote it
How long would it have taken by another form of transport to reach the Expo in Lubango?
The videos are amazing, you got lucky your friend Nuno sat on the J/S  .

Thanks, eastafspot! Ummm I forget how much time it would've taken by road, but definitely significantly longer. At least a whole days worth of traveling. Roads have improved significantly over the past several years, but it's still a fairly impractical way to travel the country. They have also reconstructed their rail network, although I'm unsure as to where it actually goes at the moment.

I'm so happy we got that cockpit footage, and I know Nuno was thrilled to get the jumpseat for landing.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 15):
Again William, thank you so much for those great moments of adventures

You're welcome!

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 16):
Thanks for the domestic report on TAAG. What I loved about the report is that despite your obvious love for the country, it is balanced and fair. I am going to gloss over your actual flight as it seemed like an "ordinary" inflight 738 experience. Few thoughts:

Hey Alex! Thank you for stopping by. I do have a soft spot for Angola, but I don't want people to think I am completely unaware of the multitude of problems the country faces.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 16):
= I have had the same in Mali. If you recall from my Angola report, something similar happened to me as well. It really leaves a bad taste in your mouth because people like you and me have the backing of higher-up people. I shudder to think what happens to the plethora of workers from other parts of Africa ... or the Chinese "slaves" that come and work in Angola. Did you ever see them? The sight is creepy as they get off buses/planes/etc. and walk single file to their work site.

Yes, I remember your TAAG report. Hence, I was not surprised to have experienced issues with immigration somewhere along the way! It seems these immigration officers enjoy letting even the smallest amount power get to their heads. Like Dwight from The Office.

You know what, I don't recall seeing any Chinese people on my trip. I think there were a few on my domestic flights, but that's about it. I was really only shown the best of Angola, so perhaps that had something to do with it. With that said, the whole Chinese-Angolan (and other African countries as well) relationship is a bizarre one for sure.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 16):
= There is an official belief that everyone is coming to steal their job and resources. While the resources part is partly true, it is still a nexus with the ruling elite. Then again, always easier anywhere in the world to blame the foreigner ...

I understand why countries want to protect local jobs, however, there are such drastic human resource shortages due largely to the war, that it's really in Angola's best interest to let in anyone who can help the country restructure. Interestingly enough, most Angolans have told me how they love foreigners and need them to help Angola continue rebuilding. I am not sure why the government attitude differs from this belief.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 16):
= Haha ... this is how small Angola is. I am pretty sure I know Leandro or have met him. He is a relative of the woman who is the chief commercial officer (or something like that) responsible for network planning.

That would not surprise me! Crazy how everyone knows everyone there.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 16):
Thanks a lot for sharing this report. An incredible adventure for sure. Which country is next for you?!

You're welcome! Not sure what's next. I might study abroad in HKG this summer, so perhaps I could add in a more "exotic" country to that trip. We will see how it works out.

[Edited 2012-12-20 15:25:33]

Topic: RE: Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y
Username: stipica
Posted 2013-04-12 16:17:12 and read 6889 times.

Hi W. !
writing this only to put this report in focus of reading public ...
I look forward to the new articles ... thanks stipica  


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