eastafspot From France, joined Jan 2008, 858 posts, RR: 20 Posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 20569 times:
“We believe that our clients deserve the best service from the moment they touch down on Zambian soil. We are a proudly Zambian company”
Dear A.net Fans,
Welcome to my 3rd trip report, which will cover the unrealistic experience between Lusaka and the biggest tourist center in Zambia: Livingstone. This route has been operated by the local carrier Proflight Zambia which sounds more a training aviation school than a commercial airline.
Anyway, i've learn what on stand-by means in the truly African's style and to enjoy pre-scenic flight before the Highly Tourist area of Victoria Falls.
1 – Introduction
When i was planning the trip to the less known country Malawi, i had 4 spare days to occupy before meeting some friends over here. For this reason i decided to visit during this free week-end one of the world natural wonders: The Mosi Oy Tunya.
Among the choice of transport to reach travelers can go:
- by bus which is obviously affordable but too long journey for the short time available,
- the train cheaper than bus but which depart only some day ,so, not convenient with my schedule,
- finally by air.
After browsing www.proflight-zambia.com to discover much else about this airline, i decided to book in advance to be guaranteed an advantageous fare. Quickly facing many on line booking failures I've contacted the sales team who explained me that the $83 and $149 ticket are only issued by paying cash over the counter, (basically for the local). Are only available for foreigner or with online credit card payment the $179 and $230 fares.
In March 2010 Flights to LVI were basically operated daily ( around 12 noon) except the Friday and Sunday where it was twice daily (around 3pm).
Advertising of P0 at Lusaka airport
If someone knows the on time performance of Kenya Airways flights, it could just be sum up as we are never sure about the departure time. Flying from Nairobi onward with the Pride of Africa, the hesitation came for should i book a full fare changeable ticket in case my outbound flight is late, or a fee changeable ticket or what else??? too many questions troubled my mind, with also the issue of the luggage allowance was only 15 kg with Proflight and 40 kg with KQ.
Prior the departure, Tissa explained that if the flight connects the same day they will apply the same weight. But if the flight is late and the ticket has to be change for a different day the story just change also.
2 weeks before leaving for Africa, i had, a bad idea, of a quick look out on the major event in Livingstone, the bank/public holidays in Zambia (nothing special except the Youth Day) and finish with the seat availability on its website, the result was surprising with 4 seats (2: $149, 1: $179, 1: $230) only remained to be sold, but i decided to do not book, thanks to Kenya Airways reputation.
Proflight Air Services was founded over ten years ago by ex Zambia Airways pilot; Tony Irwin. He began by operating charters within Zambia and the region. With the largest fleet of aircraft of the country since Zambian Airways collapsed early 2009, Proflight Commuter Services Ltd are able to offer both scheduled and Charter services.
Its core objective is to provide a friendly, professional and first-class service on scheduled and charter flights in Zambia and the region..
On Friday 12th of March, after a quality business class flight with Kenya Airways from Nairobi, The massive wide body B767 just landed on runway 10. Expected to arrive around 11h45 in Zambia, Unfortunately KQ honored his reputation by arriving at 12h50 pm. So to sum up the situation:
- KQ flight is late
- Proflight suppose to leave at 14h40
- I must pass immigration, and collect the luggage
- I must buy any ticket
- I've never visited this airport
Main entrance for departure
Well, Lusaka airport is not than big, with just one block main terminal and Proflight office has been found easily and when my turn arrived to purchase the ticket, the sale agent just answered me after a quick look in her laptop that the flight is full and she cannot do anything right now except open and add my name on the waiting list. A little bit disappointing by my lack of organization and preparation, i try to think for a better alternative to reach LVI before the night where I've already pay a deposit in a hotel. It would have been easier to plan this at home.
She announced that check-in desk close 20 min before the flight and suggest to come back at 14H15, for the same reason i ask her how big was the waiting list, she said I'm the third. 2 others guests, also flying from Nairobi in J, have probably chosen a faster lane at immigration or anything else, that was annoying.
With now plenty time ahead i decided to hang about and visit the airport until the last minute.
Overview of the departure hall
Kenya Airways advertising
When i entered back in the office, the 2 KQ misfortune “friend” were still here, as me, awaiting for a good news, and another customer from Zambia.
Basically she started complaining about her ticket, she went for check-in and the booking could not be found on the system. While the Zambian lady stated her story, the impatient business men requested to look for an option the day after ( unfortunately for them no P0 flight on this Saturday) and decided to report their trip to Sunday.
Actually the lady who had booked through a travel agent faced difficulties to figure out what's going on, as she had already paid 3 tickets for the Ministry of Education who had to hold a meeting on this Youth Day. But the sale agent was quiet embarrassed and sorry despite the theoretical validity of the ticket's purchase, the inexistent of the booking reference and consequently the unavailability of those seat.
It was now 14H40, the theoretical flight's time departure, but the FIDS still showed check-in. Anxious, I've asked if she could book a ticket for Sunday and i could join those business men to town, when she agreed. Time came to grab reluctantly all my belongings and slowly move to the the forex bureau change some Dollars in Kwacha to get a refreshment until, a strange one-eyed, man intercepted me. With a determinate attitude, he requested to follow him, stating that he's working for the airline, and could help me to get a seat. He added i must be discrete, and act fast...the situation was a bit confusing between a trick, or an airline's ticket from the black market as everything is possible in Africa. That smelt weird but his Airport's and Preflight's identification gave him right.
Finally he explained that as time was running low, i should go straight to check-in while he is looking after everything. The main problem was that i still didn't have the ticket.
He escorted me, in order, as follow :
to pay the $8 departure fee (and explained the staff at the counter that the ticket is coming)
to pass the over beeping security door with the bag in back instead of inside the X-ray scanning. The security employee did agreed without any queries (reason: we don't have time)
to check-in at the domestic terminal and explain to the ground staff than ticket will be issued soon.
Finally he released me in the departure lounge, and told me to wait the flight (and my ticket???)
At 15th i finally started smiling, learning that the flight is late was the best thing which could happen today, and sorry for all others passengers.
5 min later this guy came with my boarding pass, the receipt of the payment (hum dated for 2008) and ask me $29. This news made me gasp for a couple of seconds but he quickly received $ 30 by lack of change. He really tried his best to find change everywhere but it was impossible.
If there is any psychologist in this forum can someone clarify this:
At home, 1 month ago, i refused to book and pay in advance $230 or maybe $179
At Lusaka, 1 hour ago, i would be ready to pay and leave immediately for $230 and maybe more
This guy, right now, explained for the Youth Day (12th of March), a cracking promotion was running at Proflight: you pay for you age : 29 years old means $ 29. Ha ha So simple isn't it?
Itinerary and receipt of payment (why 2008?)
Honestly, this was my lucky day and i deeply thank Prof light Zambia. They definitely deserve this trip report as advertising, even if for other traveler it would been a late and regular flight.
Escorted by this professional one-eyed man, i finally faced this basic desk where a laid back lady, deeply focused on a local tabloid, asked after a long minute:
Lady: Hello sir, are you traveling to Livingstone today?
EAS: Hi, yes i wish to visit the vicfalls, but as of now, i don't have yet any travel document
The Escorting Man: speaking in Chewa
L: answering in Chewa to the man
L: all right, that is not a problem, how many luggage do you have?
EAS: well i've got only one but it's heavy
L: Ok it is 28,5 kg, the weight allowance is 15 kg, what do you want to do?
EAS: One of you colleague told me in connection the same weight allowance will be apply!!
L: that's correct sir, do you still have you previous boarding pass?
EAS: Yes here we go.
L: Thanks you
L: here is your tag luggage. the flight will be delay due to technical operation, you can sit in here. Enjoy your flight Sir
EAS: thanks you very much, good bye
Check-in desks for Ndola and Livingstone
Tag luggage and receipt of payment
Domestic departure lounge
although I'd already checked-in and got the BP, i had not paid yet for the ticket, but the same guy came quickly to solve this issue and commented what the ground staff stated few minutes before as the flight will be delay maybe another 30 min, and added that we were free to leave the departure lounge for a reasonable time. Taking his word for it, i went for spotting in the airport and changing again few dollars. On my way i met and discussed with few Zambian fellows well established in Lusaka.
my previous ride: KQ B763 5Y-KQX
TAAG B737 D2-TBF
After 10 min away from the area, one ground staff came, relieved to find me out, started questioning about my missing, but pushed me to rush straight to the aircraft. I ran until the X-Ray control, and pass trough a 2nd time without any serious control, and inside the terminal the edgy pilot, was waiting and brought me to the plane.
After a long apologize to the master of the air, i was just think about the worst seat i would get according to the free seating rule. On the website it features a mighty and powerful Jetstream 32 for this destination, and before coming the pleasure invaded my mind to try a new aircraft, but in those conditions, it was really pity.
At the end of the domestic open air corridor, which leads to the apron, what a huge disappointment, to do not see any gold plane, looking like the Bae (with the P0 old colors). Instead a light Cessna Caravan, engine almost on, was parked, waiting for the most important person on board, and the last customer.
Cessna Caravan with the new P0 color scheme
3.Aircraft and cabin
Instead of the 18 seater Jetstream, P0 has substituted by 12 seats single turbine aircraft. At the first sight, the disappointment was huge as I'm not use to fly those bush aircraft. The configuration was 2-1 with 4 rows, rather narrow from inside, even empty. The flight, i said before, was full which mean no way to move during the flight.
best legroom of the cabin
As i was the last customer, the choice was more than precise, despite without direct window, the last seat available was at the first row in the middle. That was the perfect position, front of the panel, as on the jump seat. The narrowness of the plane easily enable the view on both side. I was ready for action!!!
a cosmopolitan flight
Passengers could be originated from:
Bahamas, England, France (me), Japan, Kenya, Tanzania, USA, and Obviously Zambia.
With only 12 seats and 8 nationalities, it represented a really nice bunch of tourists!!!
Date : Friday 12th of March 2010
flight number: P0708
Route: Lusaka – Livingstone, distance: 198 miles
Aircraft: Proflight Zambia Cessna Caravan 208, 9J-PCR
ETD/ATD: 14H40, 15H35
ETA/ATA: 15H50, 17H20
switching on the engine
Traffic at LUN: Ethiopian B757, Air Zimbabwe B732, Zambezi Airlines Embraer 120er
After an obvious short take off runway 10, the pilot, in command, turned right and climbed manually until the cruising altitude of 10 000 ft. that was impressively slow, the single propulsion aircraft, seemed not comfortably in this windy clouds free sky. The track saved on GPS showed that we were heading first to Kurma intersection before heading to FLLI (or LVI).
Supposed to last 1H10 min with the jet craft, the company gently “cheated” us about the time it would reach there, with and single turbine plane the journey would last only 1H45 min.
At the cruising altitude, after activating the PA, the pilot started nibbling a little bite, a tasty and mouth-watering chicken wings that smelt really nice all around the cabin, and gave me the idea to read the in-flight magazine, and discover that, there was suppose to be a service. I wonder which kind of bite would provided!!! my American neighbour answered that at the back of the aircraft can be found an ice container full of drinks and a carton box with chips. Sadly for me that was situated 3 rows behind me, but they were telling the truth, another good point for this locally-known airline.
Reaching the cruising and speed Altitude
It's time to nibble something
Inflight Magazine Page 1
Inflight Magazine Page 2
Someone really happy
Inflight self-service buffet
Snack and refreshment
15 miles away from Kurma intersection
Left wing : is anything missing?
The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful, until one passenger first noticed the Mosi-Oa-Tunya on the left side (south), this moment saw the usual habit of the Muzungu, front of the rare spectacle, who will draw the fastest his camera or video camera? Just for Airliners.net i was part of the game!!! Everybody get excited quickly as the flight would finish very soon.
The first sight of the mighty Falls
The approach made by the pilot was visual with a parallel back track, a left turn to catch a short final as Lusaka on runway 10 and it represents the best view on the Zambezi river and the VicFalls. Livingstone, the third's country platform is not a busy airport during the late afternoon.
Road works on the Great North Road
Grass runway at LVI
PAPI: 2 whites and 2 reds on this short final
After switching on the engine, the South African Pilot quickly disappear in the terminal, while the First Officer turned himself around to the passengers and kindly asked if we had enjoyed the flight (nobody said no in spite the delay) and thanked everybody to fly with this Airline.
After the short landing around 17h15, the single propeller jet went to park on the main apron also filled with a couple of light aircraft, and interesting medium body Boeing 757. the same which has been seen 2 weeks ago on Kigali Airport, while i visited family over here. The first time where i could noticed Kigali apron welcoming a Thomson Charter plane. If someone have more information about this aircraft/airline.
Taxiing to the gate
LVI hosts including a B757 G-OOBF
Thomson or not Thomson?
Mickael our First Officer
I hopped off the last using the back door, as i wanted to check a small detail on the wing, saw during the flight. Walking to the terminal was pretty easy with the airy corridor, and the unusual and funny baggages collection appeared front of me. A lazy big cat lying down on the ground seemed waiting someone for age.
First sight of the Zambian widlife
The terminal as small as a regional airport, was oppositely well fitted of Tour Operator, Airlines Desk and others services such as bank or forex. Everything shutted down around 16h, and PO was probably the last and late flight of the day.
While we were waiting for a cab to the same hotel with 2 others fellows travelers, one of the guard, certainly full of Mosy already explained the airport close at 18H. And he was in rush to meet his friends in town.
Inside the terminal
Livingstone from outside
To conclude, this experience was undoubtedly extremely amazing, mostly before the flight, for the unrealistic procedure, and the lively staff meet at Lusaka. Also it seems to shake constantly a lot more in a small plane like this, then as a big fan of Flight Simulator it's really interesting to watch live a cockpit crew working, (even if listening the cockpit sound are not comforting). Honestly,God is good sometime, for all the travelers going to this country, i would definitely recommend you to fly anywhere within the country with Proflight Zambia: Just Plane Smart!!!
Zambia on the right and Zimbabwe on the left side of the bridge
Thanks you for reading, any feedback is appreciated.
airbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4277 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 20342 times:
that's a nice report. I was not sure when I saw the title in the forum, what to expect though. It turned out a very informative and interesting report. Interesting route, interesting experience, interesting aircraft and beautiful pictures.
Judging the pics of the Thomson aircraft, it seems that it is some private charter work hence the additional titles on the fuselage? Strange to see them only applied on the left side of the plane though.
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
Fauzi From Brunei, joined Jul 2005, 219 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 17049 times:
Hey there. Really enjoyed your TR, and definitely a unique one!
I've never read a TR onboard a Cessna and ProCharter, and the experience is definitely different than other airlines. The route and your experience was very different. The part when you had to pay only $29 is just speechless! Imagine a 5 year-old kid paying only $5 for the flight! The inflight "buffet" is also unheard of, but good to know even on a small plane, they took care of their fellow passengers.
Wunala From Australia, joined Mar 2005, 950 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (4 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 15250 times:
After searching for a picture of that Thompson 757 since seeing it in Xi'an (China) on the 24th April nad failing I was going to give up. What are the chances of reading a report about a flight in Africa, and getting info on a plane in China.
jamesontheroad From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 555 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (4 years 7 months 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 12163 times:
Quoting eastafspot (Reply 10): Well i wonder if the company Thomson, or other has only one co branded A/c? here is the picture, upon my arrival in Kigali 2 weeks before. The customers pays up to $ 55000 for 3 weeks holidays
TUI / Thomson have an operation for (I think) luxury tours in emerging markets called TCS / Starquest Exhibitions. It's mentioned here:
This pdf brochure for another tour operated by TCS / Starquest says that "our Boeing 757 generously accommodates only 78 travelers in 2-by-2 VIP-style leather seats with ecomfortTM foam support, instead of the standard 233 seats.