After staying two nights in the excellent city of Windhoek, it was time to conclude the trip by making the LONG journey home. Our return routing back the United States was as followed:
WDH-LAD-LIS-EWR-TPA. WOW! Let’s just say I was praying everything would work out. Considering our outbound journey on TAAG, I was most definitely nervous for what this Angolan airline had in store for us. This would be an intra-Africa flight on TAAG, away from the watchful eyes of the European Commission and flight-tracking websites. There was really no way of knowing if this flight was regularly plagued with 5-hour delays, or if it even operated at all! I suppose I just had to have faith!
We were dropped off at Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport roughly two and half hours before the scheduled departure time of 2:30 PM. On the 30 minute drive to the airport, we made an effort not to tell our driver what airline we were flying. I have learned that people become genuinely concerned for your safety and well-being when they discover you are flying TAAG. Or they laugh at you.
My experience with Windhoek airport was great! While small, this airport is well-kept and very nice.
The first thing I did was run inside the terminal to check the FIDS to see if our flight to LAD was on-time. It listed our flight with the scheduled departure time but it there were no remarks next to it. I assumed this meant we were supposed to leave on-time. Since check-in hadn’t opened yet, we went over to a nice sit-down restaurant in the airport where I got a tasty T-Bone steak. Yum!
Check-in opened at about 12:30 PM, which was 2 hours before departure. I stood in a line with about 10 people in front of me. It took about 20 minutes to get to the front of this line -- reminds me of the days before online and kiosk check-in. However, there was a really pretty Angolan woman standing behind me who talked to me a bit which was definitely nice!
The check-in agent was a friendly guy who worked for Air Namibia I believe. It took him a whole two minutes to check us in, so I really don’t know why the line was moving so slowly. When asking the check-in agent if the flight was on-time, he responded “I sure hope so!” Haha, oh TAAG!
What? We aren’t flying Air Namibia :
We cleared security and immigration which went smoothly, and were in the departure lounge within minutes. The aircraft was supposed to arrive from LAD at 1:30 PM. I began to get a little nervous when it was 1:45 PM and there was no TAAG 73G on the ramp, and the FIDS hadn’t been updated. At around 1:55 PM, I saw our TAAG 737-700 land and taxi to the stand. Ok, I could breathe again.
It looked like today’s flight to LAD would be operated by TAAG’s newest 73G, D2-TBJ, which was delivered in January 2007. The aircraft has been named “Luena”, which is a city in Angola.
Air Namibia (SW) 737-200:
I noticed our crew come into the terminal where I believe they purchased some duty free items. The cabin crew was black while the cockpit crew was white. I assume they were all Angolans.
At around 2:30 PM, boarding still hadn’t begun, and the screens above our gate changed to display a Comair flight to Johannesburg. Beginning to worry again, I asked the gate agent what was going on. She was friendly and explained that the incoming flight was transporting a passenger on a stretcher. At the moment, they were having trouble offloading the stretcher but she expected boarding to begin “soon”.
At 3:00 PM, boarding finally began for TAAG Angola Airlines flight DT 574.
Flight DT 574:
Date: 17 August 2010 Airline: TAAG Angola Airlines Flight:DT 574 Aircraft: Boeing 737-7M2 Aircraft Reg: D2-TBJ Aircraft Name: “Luena” Departure City: Windhoek, Namibia Departure Airport: Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH / FYWH) Arrival City: Luanda, Angola Arrival Airport: Quatro de Fevereiro Airport (LAD / FNLU) Scheduled Departure Time: 2:30 PM Actual Departure Time: 3:27 PM (57 min late) Scheduled Arrival Time: 5:00 PM Actual Arrival Time: 5:44 PM (44 min late) Class: Economy Load Factor: 60%
At WDH, everyone walks to their respective aircraft which is great. Some airports bus passengers to the aircraft even if it is within walking distance – I’m glad to see WDH is not one of those airports.
We were welcomed on board by a young and attractive flight attendant.
Ah, here we are again. Welcome aboard TAAG Angola Airlines!
An Air Namibia A340-300 was parked next to us.
Picture of a flight attendant my father creepily took:
The cabin was colored and styled just like TAAG’s 777s. I believe these seats were produced by the same manufacturer as well. Consistency is always nice!
Doors were closed at 3:27 PM. The safety video was shown on the drop-down LCD screens, and the cabin crew followed along by pointing out the exits.
I tried to move towards the rear of the aircraft to get a takeoff video from behind the wing. Unfortunately, a TAAG flight attendant told me I couldn’t sit there until after takeoff. I wasn’t sure of the reasoning behind this, but I complied with her instructions.
Taxi to the runway was short.
Here is a video of our takeoff in HD:
The climb-out was fairly turbulent, to the point where some passengers were screaming. It was a little nerve-wrecking, but I had faith in this newly-built 737-700!
I attempted yet again to relocate towards the rear of the aircraft to get some shots behind the wing. This time, I succeeded!
I must say that the cabin on this aircraft was not in good condition. The seat fabric was ripping, some seats would not recline while others would not stay upright. Not sure if TAAG’s passengers are extremely abusive towards the aircraft, or if TAAG just fails to maintain the cabin. It’s a shame, because I’m sure this cabin was really nice when this aircraft was delivered in 2007.
Shortly after takeoff, the IFE screens displayed a live moving-map display of our flight. This was the same moving-map as found on the IFE system of TAAG’s 777s. Next, “Date Night” was shown but only in Portuguese. However, it was still funny watching Steve Carell be hilarious as usual.
A meal was served shortly after takeoff. While the service started from the front of the aircraft, another flight attendant was taking orders from passengers seated towards the rear. He then brought each order out individually. Nice!
Anyway, the beef I ordered was quite tasty:
The legroom was pretty generous on this flight:
Location of the stretcher on the previous flight – I’ve never seen this before:
After what seemed like a very short flight, descent into LAD began. It rewarded us passengers with some nice views of Luanda Bay and the city.
Landing video on runway 23 in LAD:
SonAir / Atlas Air 747-400 leaving for IAH in a few hours:
EK A330-200 leaving the apron:
Shots of the airplane grave yard – also known as Quatro de Fevereiro Airport:
Trânsito in Luanda:
Here we go again! It’s time to make the infamous transfer in Luanda.
Walking down the airtairs onto the tarmac, we noticed a uniformed TAAG agent and immediately walked up to her. We told her “Transito – Lisboa!”. She responded by saying “Ah, Lisboa!”, and ushered us onto the bus with the other passengers from our flight. As the bus dropped us off at the immigration area, we were led to the far left immigration lane. We were told to wait behind the white line while the TAAG agent gave the immigration officer our passports. When she got our passports back, we were led through a corridor to some seats in front of this small office. We sat there while they took our passports into this office and entered our information into a computer. About 5 minutes later, she came back and escorted us to a check-in desk. We were checked-in for our flight without problems, and the TAAG agent escorted us back through security and to the immigration desk. The officer took our passports, and I waited for it – VICTORY! My passport now has an Angolan stamp! She then took us to another office where they asked us if we had any U.S. dollars. My dad had literally $1 and they laughed. She then led us back up to the departure lounge where she shook both of our hands and thanked us. Excellent! Good job TAAG!
Me and the “transito agent”:
** The trick to the Luanda Transit is to look for a TAAG agent at the bottom of the airstairs on your arriving aircraft. There will be one there, not at immigration!
Some pictures of LAD while waiting for our flight to LIS:
This was another nice flight with TAAG Angola Airlines. The cabin crew were friendly, the aircraft was nice, the food was tasty, and the flight only left an hour late for what seemed like a legit reason. I didn’t notice any apparent safety issues on this intra-Africa flight, although there is obviously much more that goes on than what meets the eye. I was once again very impressed with the handling in LAD, however, I won’t be able to recommend a transfer through this airport to the common passenger until TAAG becomes more “predictable”. But from an enthusiast standpoint, I highly recommend this trip – you will never forget it!
This concludes my adventure with TAAG, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it.
767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1748 posts, RR: 26 Reply 2, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 12447 times:
Thank you, MHTripple07 for the next installment of your trip!
Looks like TAAG got you back to Luanda all safe and sound, and luckily not more than 57 minutes late! The service on the plane once airborne doesn't look to bad, but on the ground, it seems to be a different story. I know that feeling of seeing your departure time come and go, and no announcement!
Thanks for sharing! What a long route! All the way back to TPA from WDH? Too bad you couldn't just fly to JNB and then take South African over to Washington, DC, and then catch a flight down to TPA. Then again, you wouldn't have gotten an Angolan stamp in your passport ..
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 14 Reply 7, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 11114 times:
Really great trip report, I enjoyed reading a lot. It reminds me of my visit to WDH about three years ago. But I left on Air Namibia's A340 which was nice as well.
Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter): At WDH, everyone walks to their respective aircraft which is great. Some airports bus passengers to the aircraft even if it is within walking distance – I’m glad to see WDH is not one of those airports.
Yes, I also like walking to the aircraft, at least as long as it doesn't rain - which it usually doesn't at WDH...
Thanks MaverickM11. Yeah only two days in WDH as it was sort of a last minute arrangement. I want to go back and explore more of the country though.
Quoting MaverickM11 (Reply 1): I think I've been there--is it mostly outdoors with a 100 different kinds of game on the menu?
Yes! And it's an excellent restaurant.
Quoting 767747 (Reply 2): Thank you, MHTripple07 for the next installment of your trip!
No problem, 767747!
Quoting 767747 (Reply 2): Looks like TAAG got you back to Luanda all safe and sound, and luckily not more than 57 minutes late! The service on the plane once airborne doesn't look to bad, but on the ground, it seems to be a different story. I know that feeling of seeing your departure time come and go, and no announcement!
Yes this pretty much sums up the TAAG experience. It's pretty stressful not knowing what's going on with your flight.
Quoting 767747 (Reply 2): Thanks for sharing! What a long route! All the way back to TPA from WDH? Too bad you couldn't just fly to JNB and then take South African over to Washington, DC, and then catch a flight down to TPA. Then again, you wouldn't have gotten an Angolan stamp in your passport ..
Indeed! Yes I was thinking how easy it would be to fly WDH-JNB-ATL-TPA but that would have cost a LOT more money. TAAG's roundtrip tickets are less expensive than one-way tickets! And yes, I'm pretty happy about the Angolan stamp - especially since we didn't technically enter the country.
Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 3): It is like Africa season here on A.Net ... along with EK reports I think .
Yes it is an I love it! I'm going to comment on your excellent ASKY report soon.
Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 3): Hey man - again, great job with the final installation (?) of the trip reports. Great stuff, and great report on TAAG. Looking at their livery, I am reminded how classy I think it is!
Thank you and I agree that TAAG's livery is very classy. In fact, they are surprisingly very thorough on their overall branding.
Quoting burj (Reply 4): Cool trip report! Thanks for sharing!
No problem, burj. I'm glad you enjoyed.
Quoting burj (Reply 4): What a great sport the transito agent is to have her picture taken with you!
Yes, the transito agents were awesome. I forgot to mention that we saw the transito agent from the LIS-LAD-WDH ordeal on our return trip, and she remembered us. It was great, and she was very happy to see us again!
Quoting The777Man (Reply 5): Very nice report again with very nice pictures! TAAG looks really good on the 73G. The meal looks nice and great to have the airshow on the screens on this flight along with a movie.
Thanks The777Man! Yes I love TAAG's branding and cabin design. I just wish they maintained their cabins.
Quoting lychemsa (Reply 6): Did you take shots for Namibia? I noticed you went to Botswana on safari and S. Africa? What shots do you recommend? Thanks for a fascinating report.
No shots for Namibia and I can't remember which shots I got for my other Africa trip. I believe I just got whatever was required / recommended!
Quoting Contact Air (Reply 7): Really great trip report, I enjoyed reading a lot. It reminds me of my visit to WDH about three years ago. But I left on Air Namibia's A340 which was nice as well.
Thanks Contact Air, and I've read your trip reports which are fantastic.
Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 8): Excellent TR. I love seeing trip reports from Africa, especially when they include such high-quality pictures. Very interesting!
Thanks Luftfahrer! I love African trip reports too - something about them is just much more interesting than anything else.
Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 8): Indeed, this isn't a desirable state for having been service for 3 years only.
Absolutely not. Almost all of TAAG's "next generation" planes are due for their D-Checks soon. Hopefully, the cabin will be worked on.
Quoting sw733 (Reply 9): Glad you enjoyed my amazing hometown!
Yes I loved it!
Quoting sw733 (Reply 9): Interesting...SW doesn't, to my knowledge, operate the 732 on passenger flights anymore...wonder what it's doing there. They were replaced by the 735's completely...I thought...
I had though the same.
Quoting sw733 (Reply 9): Joe's Beer House, on Nelson Mandela Avenue...tasty and meaty, yes. Actually not far from where I grew up!
Thanks for providing the name, I had forgotten. A great restaurant with excellent meat!
sw733, I have a question about WDH. Many of the streets are named after "evil dictators". Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro are two examples I remember. What's the reasoning for this? This was somewhat surprising considering how "western" Windhoek appears to be. Thanks!
sw733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6072 posts, RR: 10 Reply 14, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 10314 times:
Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 10): sw733, I have a question about WDH. Many of the streets are named after "evil dictators". Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro are two examples I remember. What's the reasoning for this? This was somewhat surprising considering how "western" Windhoek appears to be. Thanks!
Well, first off, remember it feels very western because it has had so much German influence in it. Even by your pictures, you can tell there are some places that look (and can even feel) like you are in Germany.
The street names go back to independence (which, as you probably knew, wasn't terribly long ago...we're still one of the youngest countries in the world, and the second youngest in Africa after Eritrea. Our SWAPO leaders (who were the group who basically fought for Namibian independence) were good friends with people like Mugabe and Castro who, while not the most stand-up guys in the world, really supported SWAPO in their fight for independence, and wanted us (Namibia) to get away from being "part of South Africa." As such, there are a couple streets named after them in Windhoek, as you experienced. Unfortunately, our government is still a little too close to Mugabe for my (and many in Namibia's) liking...
Just an FYI, SWAPO is still the largest political party in Namibia, and stands for "South West Africa People's Organization." Though largely a black organization, there are some white's and coloureds that vote for them. SWAPO was very interesting in independence...whereas in South Africa, when the black's took power they shunned many of the white's, in Namibia we white's were embraced...we were told we should all work together, because after decades of apartheid, there were some experience issues that the blacks knew they lacked. That is why Namibia is the safest country in Africa, and one of the most well off with a largely solid rule of law...largely, we all get along despite racial and historical issues. I say largely...but with only about 6% of the population being white, things could change at any moment and there isn't much we could do about it honestly.
Sorry, that was all probably more info than you wanted!
ronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1541 posts, RR: 54 Reply 15, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 9875 times:
Looks like you had another great experience with TAAG - on and off ground!
I definitely agree with you that the key to your transit -apart from Transito- is to find the TAAG Agent who would usually be at the bottom of the mobile steps, and not necessarily inside the terminal building after entering the immigration hall.
By the way, dod you fly Air Namibia metal at all?
Thanks a lot for sharing! Great pictures as always!
A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
travelR From Australia, joined Sep 2010, 90 posts, RR: 0 Reply 16, posted (2 years 8 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 9578 times:
Great report MHTripple7. Pics are very good and nice insight on an African carrier.
Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter): I must say that the cabin on this aircraft was not in good condition. The seat fabric was ripping, some seats would not recline while others would not stay upright.
I agree with you on the tattered state of the seats on the plane. They certainly have seen better days. I guess they save their money on not maintaining the inside of the plane so they can keep flying.
TAAG manages to have one of the most magnificent liveries around, the best planes in the skies but my oh my every time I see those God awful uniforms I really can't help myself in asking what on earth did they have in their head when they came up with them.
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6183 posts, RR: 79 Reply 18, posted (2 years 8 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 9084 times:
Great report with many nice pictures! I had been waiting for this one. The meal looks good, bad to hear about the poor condition of the cabin.
Quoting sw733 (Reply 9): Interesting...SW doesn't, to my knowledge, operate the 732 on passenger flights anymore...wonder what it's doing there. They were replaced by the 735's completely...I thought...
It's probably one of two birds currently leased from Airquarius and Star Air Cargo.
airbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4015 posts, RR: 52 Reply 19, posted (2 years 8 months 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 8957 times:
congrats! It's a great report and you've some good pics included. Good to read your experience including the transit at LAD. Seemingly no problems at all. Good to know, and then we' ve TAAG, an airline to consider for flying South!
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
Quoting WhereToNext (Reply 11): I love how this has become the standing joke about LAD here on the forums.
Indeed. I'd love to see a report from someone who actually originated in LAD.
Quoting burj (Reply 12): I'm pretty sure that "Transito" is the only word of Portuguese that I know!
You and me both.
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 13): Nice report and pictures, good too see another TAAG TR, seemingly common at the moment!
Thanks BA319-131! Yes, this mysterious airline is suddenly becoming not-so-mysterious.
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 13): I have to say the TAAG c/s is really classy, especially on the 737's.
Indeed! The airline has a good taste in design.
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 13): Food looks pretty decent and well sized for a flight of this duration.
I agree, it's much more than I've gotten even on some Asian carriers.
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 13): Overall vie got to admit TAAG seem a lot better than I would have given them credit for.
Yeah, they really aren't as bad as their reputation makes them out to be.
Quoting sw733 (Reply 14): Sorry, that was all probably more info than you wanted!
No, that was very helpful. Thank you.
Quoting ronerone (Reply 15): Looks like you had another great experience with TAAG - on and off ground!
Yes, I was very pleased.
Quoting ronerone (Reply 15): I definitely agree with you that the key to your transit -apart from Transito- is to find the TAAG Agent who would usually be at the bottom of the mobile steps, and not necessarily inside the terminal building after entering the immigration hall.
Yes, and it would be helpful for the TAAG agent at the aircraft to hold up a sign or something. Then again, the Transito just wouldn't be the same if that was the case.
Yes, a 737-500 from LAD to WDH. But I was too exhausted to take picture, plus I was seated in a center seat in the last row.
Quoting ronerone (Reply 15): Thanks a lot for sharing! Great pictures as always!
Quoting travelR (Reply 16): Great report MHTripple7. Pics are very good and nice insight on an African carrier.
Quoting travelR (Reply 16): I agree with you on the tattered state of the seats on the plane. They certainly have seen better days. I guess they save their money on not maintaining the inside of the plane so they can keep flying.
Perhaps. I hope the interiors will be fixed up when the aircraft goes in for its D-Check soon.
Quoting travelR (Reply 16): The meal does look nice. It seems better than some of the meals on other established carriers on other peoples' reports.
Quoting Speedbird741 (Reply 17): TAAG manages to have one of the most magnificent liveries around, the best planes in the skies but my oh my every time I see those God awful uniforms I really can't help myself in asking what on earth did they have in their head when they came up with them.
Quoting Speedbird741 (Reply 17): Another great report on DT. I have not been lucky enough to hop on one of their 73Gs, but they look like a splendid ride to me! Nice pictures of the great city of Windhoek.
Yes, the 73G was indeed a fun ride. Thanks!
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 18): Great report with many nice pictures! I had been waiting for this one. The meal looks good, bad to hear about the poor condition of the cabin.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 18): It's probably one of two birds currently leased from Airquarius and Star Air Cargo.
That would make sense since the plane was all white except for the Air Namibia logo on the side.
Quoting airbuseric (Reply 19): congrats! It's a great report and you've some good pics included. Good to read your experience including the transit at LAD. Seemingly no problems at all. Good to know, and then we' ve TAAG, an airline to consider for flying South!
Thanks, airbuseric. Yes, the LAD transit is great as long as everything is on-time.