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Africa 2: SN BRU-BJM, SA BJM-KGL. Biz To Burundi  
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 13998 times:

Sorry, post is below!

[Edited 2012-01-27 08:58:25]


http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
66 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 1, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 14498 times:

Africa 2: SN A332 BRU-BJM, SA A319 BJM-KGL. Business to Burundi and Rwanda

Welcome to the second of my six report covering my winter trip to Africa. Part one can be found here , which also explains some of the bizarre rationale behind the trip. This report covers my long-haul flight with Brussels Airlines from Brussels to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi in Central Africa, my 3 short days in Burundi, and my South African Airlines flight from Bujumbura to Kigali. I initially planned to cover just BRU-BJM in this report, but thought given the number of photos it%u2019d be better to include BJM-KGL here than in the next report.
Africa 1
bmi, London-Casablanca, Economy A319
TAP Air Portugal, Casablanca-Lisbon, Business ERJ
Brussels Airlines, Lisbon-Brussels, Business A319

Africa 2
Brussels Airlines, Brussels-Bujumbura, Business A332
South African Airlines, Bujumbura-Kigali, Business A319

Africa 3
Ethiopian Airlines, Kigali-Entebbe-Addis Ababa, Business B737
Ethiopian Airlines, Addis Ababa-Dar es Salaam-Zanzibar, Business B767
Undecided, Zanzibar-Dar es Salaam

Africa 4
Swiss, Dar es Salaam-Nairobi-Zurich, First A333

Africa 5
Swiss, Zurich-Athens, Business A320
Aegean, Athens-Larnaca, Business A320

Africa 6
British Airways, Larnaca-London, Business B767

When I started to investigate travelling to Bujumbura, information was pretty scarce. Brussels Airlines was the only major carrier operating there (the only long-haul route still is to Brussels), along with local carriers Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines. However, the more I hunted, the more I found. Air Uganda started flights from Entebbe in October 2011. South African joined the fray in January 2012. Turkish Airlines seems to have a few rumours about it starting operations too.

Right onto my stay in Brussels leaving off from Part 1:

A caught the bus from BRU into town. I managed to find a room at the Stanhope Hotel, Belgium%u2019s first 5* hotel for the bargain price of only GBP 28! I thought that there must be something wrong with it, but no, it was fine %u2013 excellent value!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9762.jpg

My tags
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9769.jpg

Marc (MSS658) was kind enough to meet me in the lobby to go for dinner (Nils (Sultanils) was also meant to meet us, but got waylaid at the last minute). We had a very nice Belgian dinner, before finding the Mannequin Pis.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9784.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9784.jpg


The next morning it was another early start (third in a row, groan). After checking out I headed to the bus stop for the 0751 bus back to BRU. By some lucky coincidence my hotel happened to be less than a minute%u2019s walk to the nearest bus stop.



At this time on a Sunday morning buses only run hourly %u2013 it filled up very quickly. We arrived at BRU on time. My first goal was to buy a new padlock, after which I went to check in. Much
[url=http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/171899/]like the old QR set up in LHR, business class passengers for Africa have to check in on the end of a check in island. If there is more than one person queuing (there were only TWO desks) then the queue got mixed up in the considerable number of people trying to walk past. Terrible set up. The dragon (not lady) manning the queue asked if I was in C. I said yes. She didn%u2019t believe me and asked to see my ticket. She saw the booking code %u201CI%u201D, looked at me and shouted to her colleague (in French) %u201Cis %u201CI%u201D Business class?%u201D. Once this was confirmed I was let in. Nice welcome!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9823.jpg

I had discovered a few weeks earlier that my plane was to be operated by the ex-LX A330 (the one LX didn%u2019t wan with the old, old LX C class). I knew this as row 1 was now row 7. I feigned some shock at check in as to why I was %u201Cso far back%u201D. The woman was quite clueless. Seems she didn%u2019t know much about the LX plane. I asked if it had the new seats (whatever new means as SN have seats dating back to 2007 (?) similar to SK, and also new seats inaugurating this spring). She said yes. I asked if she was sure, and she assured me. Hmmmm. The SN timetable also notes that %u201Call our long hual aircraft have been refurbished%u201D.

I was asked if I had a visa or not. I said I%u2019d get it on arrival. She had a look at her cheat sheet, then walked off to talk to someone. I had a look and it said something like %u201CIn practise all EU citizens can get a visa on arrival for up to 30 days, however, a visa is still required before boarding%u201D. She came back and said everything was fine. Good for me!

She printed my boarding card, and tagged my two bags. I then had to have both my hand bags weighed and tagged. Never had that happen like that before. I wonder why they are so strict about Africa bound bags?

With all that kuffeling done I headed to security.
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There was a %u2018Fast Lane%u2019 for C pax, however, it just led near the front of a normal lane meaning there is still a queue, and you get angry people trying to not let you in (understandably).
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Shops after security
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FIDS
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My first stop was the Schengen lounge. I was told the Sunrise lounge was much better, so headed over there after asking about the seating. The lady completely misunderstood me and assured me that I had a window%u2026
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Spotting %u2013 lots of JET Airways over here
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This would be my chariot
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Yes, definitely the old Swiss plane
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9837.jpg

Time to check out the Sunrise Lounge, opened specially for the African flights. The friendly lady on the door welcomed me, gave me some wifi cards and then ASSURED me that the plane had the new seats.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9838.jpg

For the flagship lounge, the place was quite a disappointment. It was way too small, with up to three strangers having to share a table area for four. Food wise, there were some pastries (tasty) and fruit. The drinks selection was fine for that time of the morning!
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At T-40 I left the lounge and headed for the gate. There was quite a queue for economy, but none for business (until the air bridge).
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9844.jpg

January 2012
Brussels (BRU) %u2013 Bujumbura (BJM)
Brussels Airlines SN 453
Scheduled: 1040-1955 (8h15m)
Actual: 1041-1931 (7h50m)
Airbus A330 HB-IQA
Business Class

Nice glass air bridges in BRU
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9846.jpg

Our neighbour heading to Luanda and Kinshasa %u2013 that%u2019s too hard core even for me! I%u2019ll stick with Burundi.
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New airline to spot %u2013 heading to the D.R.Congo too?
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9849.jpg


Papers at the door. Nothing nice in English, so I got a Belgian one


Yup, the old cabin as expected. Load was fairly light in C, roughly 20 pax in 48 seats. The front cabin had 5 rows, the rear one 3, with about 10 in each. I was initially sat next to a Burundian lady working for FIFA, but once the %u201Cboarding is complete%u201D message was done I advised her to enjoy the two middle seats to herself.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9854.jpg

Reasonable legroom in row 1 (aka row 7). The seats themselves were quite comfortable for a day flight, night time would be a different story. It was also interesting to note that there were only pillows and no blankets on the seats %u2013 on request only?


Retro controls
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0018.jpg

The aforementioned hand bag tags


Welcome drink of champagne (also water and OJ available)


Tarmac
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For some reason the catering was still not finished, so they opened door 1R filing he cabin with a rather cold breeze. The crew were constantly walking up and down the cabin, their arms full of trays and boxes.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9858.jpg

Papers


Promotional Belgian videos before the safety demo
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Moving map, my main IFE for this flight. 6,500 km to go
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Taxing out
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Air Arabia Maroc
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Airborne just a minute late %u2013 excellent time keeping with SN!
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Gaining height over a grey Belgium
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The special long-haul magazine, tailors to Africa %u2013 I wonder if the contents will change much when JFK is added in June?


The Bujumbura section %u2013 it wasn%u2019t overly useful


Duty free %u2013 I got a bottle of vodka


Africa map


Safety card, special for this plane
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Heading for Luxembourg
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Before lunch got started, I thought I%u2019d check out the toilets. Well, there wasn%u2019t much to distinguish it from Ryanair to be honest. Actually, FR is a bit better as they have liquid soap in the dispensers. I had a look in the drawers and found a bar of soap. NOT impressed.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9892.jpg

My windows were spectacularly scratched when seen at from a certain angle %u2013 what would have caused that?
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9894.jpg

Bottles of water distributed


Amenity kit %u2013 I loved the bag, except for the dangly, tassely zip. Contents were ok %u2013 moisturisers, toothbrush, lipbalm, eyeshade (economy standard) and socks.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9899.jpg
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Menu cards, which were only of moderate use given the actual lack of choice

[IMG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9902.j
pg[/IMG]
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The Alps, whist beautiful, caused some considerable turbulence just as drinks were being served
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Champagne and sparkling water please!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9913.jpg

As you can see, the turbulence was quite strong. My glass also had a crack in it.


A very nice amuse bouche. Warm salty nuts, and some smoked salmon.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9910.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9909.jpg

AF overtaking us
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9916.jpg
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The Julian Alps
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9926.jpg

Forty minutes after getting our drinks, lunch was served. I had decided on the tomato tiramisu, but was just handed a tray with the terrine. I asked the FA for the tomato and was told %u201Csorry, because of the type of plane, we can only offer one choice%u201D. What? I really don%u2019t understand why the aircraft type can stop you putting one starter on half the trays, and the other on the other half??? Either way, another fail for this plane. I didn%u2019t like the terrine at all. As you can see, the cheese and dessert were served on the same tray %u2013 apparently this was also due to a lack of galley space.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9930.jpg

The FA didn%u2019t ask me why I had barely touched the starter


We%u2019re now over the snowy peaks of Albania
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9933.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9934.jpg

For lunch I went with the shrimp and endive. I%u2019m not a fan of endive (it%u2019s very bitter tasting %u2013 I%u2019m surprised it was featured in 2 of 3 entrees) after eating this. The shrimp and rice were tasty though.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9936.jpg

Dessert was tasty
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9937.jpg

As were the chocolates, together with the handy guide
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9943.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9956.jpg

By now we were speeding towards Crete
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9944.jpg

My request for peppermint tea was met with a black look, until I had repeated myself several times. As you can see, the tray tables don%u2019t fit properly (and I can%u2019t imagine they ever did given how off they are)
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9945.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9946.jpg

Back in Africa
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9950.jpg
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9952.jpg

We%u2019re now three hours into the flight %u2013 you might be wondering why I haven%u2019t said what I was watching%u2026 well, other than the fact that there wasn%u2019t much of interested being screened, the PTV were also of really poor quality so I decided not to bother. The moving map was shown continuously on the bulkhead, so that was good enough for me, in addition to my computer and book.


Also, it didn%u2019t look like the area around the PTV had been cleaned in a LONG time. Urgh
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9954.jpg

I decided as I so often do now to fill out a comment card. I asked the purser on the way back from the bathroom, who told me that they don%u2019t have them on board, but that he could give me some paper and an envelope. I duly noted down my disappointment with the continuous disinformation in the airport, and the substandard aircraft and lack of catering. I know some of you think I complain too much, but if I had spent nearly US$4,000 for a one way ticket to Bujumbura, I would have been furious.


Flying along past the Nile
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9961.jpg

Lake Aswan
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9965.jpg

Feeling rather unsatisfied after lunch, I asked for some fruit. I was very impressed when I seemed to be given the entire fruit bowl. Oh, and a very nice Leffe, which was possibly the best thing loaded onto the flight.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9963.jpg

Crossing into Sudan
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9966.jpg
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9974.jpg

It was as we were nearing Khartoum that the purser came to have a chat. He commiserated about the seats, and explained how they were soon installing the brand new seats to the fleet (nice to know, but not much use!). He said that the crew didn%u2019t like the plane as there was too little storage in the galleys. He was polite, but at the end of the day was unable to do anything. He also apologised for the lack of toilet amenities. He said it was his job to stock them, and he%u2019d forgotten (really, it%u2019s the pursers job the stock the toilets?). Still, at least he took the time to have a chat. He asked if there was anything he could do, so I asked for a laptop charger.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9976.jpg

Catching up with FlyingFinn%u2019s Tallinn report
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With 2.5 hours left to run, ice cream was served. Like on CX it was hard as diamond.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9978.jpg

The amenities (sorry, amenity) is now available.


The cabin
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9981.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9989.jpg

A hazy Sudanian afternoon
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9983.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9986.jpg

I ordered another Leffe as we flew over new capital of South Sudan, Juba
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9988.jpg

And day turns to night %u2013 it was a shame to now see Burundi in the day light. What was strange was that there were basically no lights on the ground at all. Could have been flying over ocean. Something I found a little strange about the flight was the complete lack of any local African language. All announcements were made only in French, Dutch and English. No Kirundi (Burundian) or Swahili (Kenyan). I know making announcements in 5 languages is a bit (very) drawn-out, but at least a welcome or goodbye in a local language would have been nice? I guess SN reasoned that anyone able to travel abroad would also have a command of French or English?
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9990.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9993.jpg

Time to switch to gin


With less than an hour to Burundi, the final meal was served. It was cold, but it was quite nice.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9999.jpg
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Drink choice was more champagne and water
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0001.jpg

Slowly getting closer
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One last G&T to help me get through the airport
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Hot towels were handed out (they were given out after take off too)
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With the cabin secured for landing, we touched down nice and early into an empty Bujumbura Airport
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0039.jpg

It%u2019s true, I%u2019m in Africa! New country # 1 this year.


The airport wasn%u2019t very well lit
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0044.jpg

It looked like the majority of the business cabin was leaving here in BJM rather than continuing to Nairobi. I guess with the much larger choice of flight to NBO, there%u2019s no reason to fly SN unless you live in BRU and want a direct flight. As I queued in the galley to get off, I saw these for the soon to be BRU bound pax
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0045.jpg

Nearly off
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0046.jpg
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Walking to the terminal. I took a nice picture of the plane as I was walking, but got stopped and was forced to delete it : (



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 14245 times:

The visa on arrival was a bit haphazard. I filled in my arrival form (they had none on the plane), then handed my $40 and passport over. After a considerable amount of typing (during which I had time to change some money into Burundian Francs) I got my passport back, complete with a full page yellow stick on visa – very nice for my visa collection, and makes a change to all those bland Chinese ones. Here is the queue for passport control (most pax already had visas). One issue with the visa though was that I was given a 3 day visa (3 calendar days) rather than a 72 hour visa. ‘advertised’ on TIMATIC. This could be a problem as I was flying out at 0745 on day 4 (roughly 60 hours in). Well, I’m sure I can talk my way out of it…..
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And waiting at the carousel. Bags took about 25 minutes from disembarking.
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After my success in Moldova and Aberdeen, I thought I’d give Couchsurfing another go, especially given the high cost of hotel rooms in Burundi, and the fact that I could use a little assistance from someone more accustomed to Burundian life. The only offer I got was from a Belgian lady who offered me a tent in her garden. Hmm, sounded very interesting. I was picked up by the aforementioned lady, and driven off to an exclusive lakeside party – rather bizarre but great fun, and only possible though Couchsurfing!
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My lovely tent. I thought it’d get way too hot in the tent at night, but it surprisingly cool. The garden was walled and had 24/7 security guards patrolling – I felt very safe!
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A long way from home


Bujumbura
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The market


Driving out to the Stanley/Livingstone Rock, where Stanley was purported to say “Dr.Livingstone I presume”
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Bujumbura’s Musée Vivant – plenty of local wildlife
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Guinea Pigs (for feeding to the snakes and crocs) and a monkey
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Leopard
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The guide with some grass snakes


Just a stick keeping the snake in


A very nice (and lonely chimp) – he was desperate for someone to play with him – he wouldn’t let go of my hand.
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A old style local house
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The view from the top of the hill
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In Africa everything is carried on one’s head


Traveling in style
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Traveling dangerously - a very common activity here
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After a morning of experiences, it was time to stop at a nice lakeside hotel for lunch. Bujumbura is on Lake Tanganyika
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A nice fish brochette
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And an even tastier beef brochette for dinner, with a Primus.
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It was whilst I was enjoying this brochette that I decided to check my onward reservation to check the check in time for SA in BJM. I logged onto Amadeus where I noticed there were 2 e-ticket numbers….hmmm, why? What? My flight had been moved from 0745 on Wednesday to 1605 on Friday with no warning! That’s over 64 hours later! I was furious, but more than that really worried. My visa was only for 3 days but more importantly I had already booked and paid (over $600!) to go Gorilla trekking in Rwanda on the Thursday. This would NOT do.

There was no other suitable Star Alliance flight on that day I wanted, but there was an interesting looking Rwandair flight via EBB. I called BD Diamond Club. To cut a long story short (I was disconnected twice) I was denied the Rwandair flight, but put on the SA flight leaving a day earlier (about 16 hours earlier). To be honest this worked out better than the original flight as it meant I didn’t have to get up early. On the downside it screwed up my sightseeing in Burundi as I’d planned a long day trip the next day, but now would have to be back at the airport for 2pm. Diamond Club swore that they emailed me….shame the email never arrived.

It turned out that SA planned JNB-KGL-BJM service (overnight in BJM) was changed to JNB-BJM-KIG (hence a change in days and times for me). When I spoke to the SA station manager in BJM he said there were some “issues” which I presume meant that the staff/airline were unhappy with overnighting in “dangerous” Bujumbura. The change happened just after the first flight, so I guess the airline just hadn’t sorted it out properly before the launch.

On my second day in Burundi I took a day trip to the second city (?) of Gitega. The journey wasn’t too far (around 100km), but involved a lot of hair pin bends on alarming inclines.
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Gietga “Airport”
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The Musuem
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An hippo skull


A dusty road
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Another Primus with lunch
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Burundian Flag
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I wrote this before the schedule change:
“South African Airlines only started flying from Johannesburg to Kigali and onwards to Bujumbura on 17th January. After overnighting in Bujumbura, the A319 flies back to JNB via KIG the next day. I would be on the 4th ever flight out of BJM operated by SA.”

Original Schedule:

Bujumbura (BJM) – Kigali (KIG)
South African Airlines SA 89
Scheduled: 0750-0845 (1h05m)
Airbus A319



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 14240 times:

Airline Route update

My driver dropped me back at BJM exatly 2 hours before schedule departure. I was careful with photos, so they might not be the best.
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The terminal was nearly deserted. I had my bags scanned, and I was let into the check in area. http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0216.jpg

I was slightly concerned to see my flight not on the FIDS
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0221.jpg

There were no signs on the desks so went to a bored looking woman and asked if I could check in for SA here to Kigali. She looked a bit surprised and said that it left at 2pm (it being around 1403 by this point). My first thought was “FFS, they change the schedule, send me a new itinerary the day before, and it’s not even bl**dy correct”.

I noticed on the inbound FIDS that there was a flight due in from JNB
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0222.jpg

I soon learnt to not trust the FIDS (it was just something pretty to look at). The ET flight from ADD wasn’t showing, nor was their new ETD despite showing a delay.

I asked to speak to someone in charge. The lady walked off, returning a few minutes later saying “they’re in a meeting”. I asked her to confirm if there was actually a flight, but she couldn’t. She said to take a seat, which I did. After around 10 minutes I got up and asked someone else, who pointed me towards the KQ office. I asked in there about the SA flight. A lady looked at me, clearly surprised that anyone might be flying that flight. It turns out she was in charge of check in. She ushered me back to check in, then headed into another office. A few minutes later she came back with the station manager, and started a manual (and very laborious) check in. The station manager apologised (sort of) and said that they didn’t have my contact details, so couldn’t tell me about the change. They weren’t expecting me! Turns out I was the first SA pax to fly just BJM-KIG. What an honour!

I watched as they SLOWLY filled in all the documentation (God help them if they ever get more than 1 pax per flight, it could take days) – eventually I was given a hand written boarding pass (and hand written tags).
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/IMAG0135.jpg

The manager escorted me through VIP security (hardly necessary given the lack of other pax), and into the “VIP” lounge. There were no drinks/snacks.
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After around ten minutes of staring into space, a guard came in and asked to see my passport. Ten minutes later he came back saying I had the wrong sort of passport (i.e not a diplomatic one). I tried explaining that I had a business class ticket, but he didn’t accept that. It was hardly a negative being chucked out as the main terminal was infinitely more interesting. The guard did disappear with my passport though to get a stamp, leaving me waiting.

The duty free shop


Departures


The open-air terminal was filled with sound as the late ADD flight landed. I’m surprised they used such a large aircraft on the route as there were barely 30 people in the departure lounge
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I was delighted when, a few minutes later, a SA A319 touched down. Around 1530 a guy walked into the terminal, saw me and asked if I was going to Kigali. I said yes, and followed him, with eyes of the 30 delayed ET pax watching me. As expected, I was led out to a private van at the end of the open air corridor.
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My bags were already in there, blocking the door.
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With the van to myself, I could finally take some photos!
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Anyone know what this Lockheed is doing here?
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And finally my A319
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0233.jpg

January 2012
Bujumbura (BJM) – Kigali (KGL)
South African Airlines SA 88
Scheduled: 1605-1700 (0h55m)
Actual: 1607-1634 (0h27m)
Airbus A319 ZS-SFF
Business Class

It was quite a nice feeling being the only passenger boarding – just a shame the plane had people already waiting from JNB. At the top of the stairs I was greeted by a smiling guy saying “Ah, so you’re our special passenger then!” The plane was pretty empty, with 5 pax in C, and 15 in Y.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0310.jpg

My legroom
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Tarmac
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You can barely see (I only noticed after take off) on the far right the remains of an Air Burundi Caravelle. I wonder if the DC3s are ever used?
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Taking in some fresh Burundian air


I was quite thirsty after the experience of BJM, so asked for a glass of water


Manpower
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SA have their A319s kitted out with 5 rows of 2x3 C seating, which is fairly comfortable.
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Before pushback I was given a personal safety briefing, and then over the PA the smiling FA said “and we would like to welcome the passenger joining us here in Bujumbura” winking at me at the same time! Oh, I feel so special!

Seat back contents


Timetable is now incorrect
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0247.jpg


A useful card telling what you can use when


After a lot of faffing around with paperwork, we finally pushed back
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Turning around
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And off we go, just a few minutes late
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And there she is, nearly missed her!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0258.jpg


The guy opposite recorded take off : )
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Bujumbura
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0262.jpg

And Lake Tanganyika
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0263.jpg

After just a few minutes the smiling FA asked what I would like to drink. I missed the PA saying how long the flight would be, and given the schooled of 55 minutes I thought food *might* be served. Just a drink it was though. “A G&T and some sparking water please”!

Very nice, a Tanqueray served just 7 minutes after wheels up. I just LOVE those miniatures!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0265.jpg

Enjoying the views


I managed to get about half way through a page before the seatbelt sign came on, and the captain announced our descent. Oh, that was a quick flight, no time for food in the end then I guess.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0268.jpg

Another FA came through and handed out some chocolate bars – see, I thought there’d be some food!
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With me still clutching my glass, we started our descent into Kigali
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Touchdown after just 27 minutes. New country # 2 this year. The smiling FA made a welcome announcement reminding everyone not to leave personal items aboard “including spouses and children”.
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Silverbacks are mature gorillas
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Tower
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Terminal
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Rwandair
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0308.jpg

Welcome
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0306.jpg

Disembarkation. We were bussed the short distance to the terminal, which it took around 5 minutes to fill out the arrivals card and clear immigration. Plastic bags are illegal in Rwanda, and the Lonely Planet says to expect your bags to be search, and ‘contraband’ seized. No one checked my bags though.
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I got some Rwandan Francs out of an ATM, then jumped in a cab to my hotel.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0315.jpg

My handwritten tag
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0321.jpg

So, what did I think? Overall the SN flight was ok. We arrived early and safely. Drink choices were excellent, food less so. I think it was very unprofessional for SN to fly this plane around, especially when there is no mention of it on their website, and when their timetable states that all planes have been refurbished. I mean it’s just a blatant lie there for the sole purpose to deceive customers. Staff either didn’t know about the plane, or just said that the plane was refurbished. Big thumbs down to SN for that. I was quite looking forward to my flight after reading abrelosojos’s report, but as always there are two sides to every story!

South African Airlines, after the schedule change and ‘confusion’ at check in, were quite good for a very short flight. No complaints! I thought the cabin crew were great.

As always, not sure when the next part will be out as internet access with sparse. I spent the last few days up in the Volcano National Park in Northern Rwanda (on the Congolese and Ugandan border) tracking gorillas…..awesome!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG0452.jpg

All comments and questions welcome!

Some of my other TRs:

Africa Part 1: BD LHR-CMN, TP CMN-LIS, SN LIS-BRU in Y and C
A.net meeting in snowy Tallinn. U2/FR STN-TLL-LTN
easyJet and bmi up to Aberdeen, LTN-ABZ-LHR
The Costa del Sol with British Airways. LGW-AGP-LCY
Mysterious Moldova (and Transnistria). Lufthansa LHR-MUC-KIV
BA to the Austrian Alps. LHR-MUC, INN-LGW
I can't get no Jetisfaction: LH LGW-FRA inaugural
Colombia Part 4: Colombia to London via FRA/MUC/HEL on LH & BA
Colombia Part 3: Colombia with Avianca (AV). SMR-BOG-MDE-BOG
Colombia Part 2: Colombia with Avianca (AV). BOG-MDE-CTG
Colombia Part 1: London to Colombia via ARN/MUC/FRA on BA & LH
USA and Mexico Part 4, British Airways Mexico City – London, World Traveller Plus
USA and Mexico Part 3: Around Mexico with Aereo Calafia Cessna 208B & Viva Aerobus B733
USA and Mexico Part 2: Sightseeing tour of San Diego Airport, and American Airlines San Diego - LA – Dallas - San Jose Cabo
USA and Mexico Part 1: easyJet Luton to Paris, and BA Paris to San Diego via LHR in World Traveller Plus
British Airways to Scandinavia (LHR-CPH,GOT-LHR)
Where’s my bag? British Airways, Milan to London
What airline am I flying again? Bmi/Lufthansa Italia LHR-MXP
Albania and Macedonia: Austrian LHR-VIE-TIA, Macedonian Airlines SKP-ZRH, Swiss ZRH-LCY
Part 1, Lufthansa London-Munich-Frankfurt-Nanjing, Economy Class A321 and A343
Part 2, Cathay Pacific Shanghai to Tokyo via Hong Kong, Business Class A330 and B747-400
Part 3, ANA Boeing B767 Tokyo to Shanghai, & Air China Airbus A340 Shanghai to Beijing, Business Class
Part 4: Chinese domestics, inc. Joy Air Xi’an MA60, Tianjin Airlines ERJ, and China Express Airways CRJ
Part 5: Lufthansa Beijing-Frankfurt-London City, Economy Class A388 and E90
5 Countries, 5 Flights, 5 Days, with Ryanair (FR)
bmiFriday: Welcome to Sunny Norway, London to Bergen, A319)
Royal Jordanian, London to Aqaba via Amman. A330 and A320
Royal Jordanian, Amman to London, A330
London City to Antwerp with Cityjet and the Fokker 50
Croatian Airlines, LHR-ZAG,PUY-ZAD-ZAG-LHR, A319 and Dash 8
British Airways, Iberia & Binter to Tenerife and Gran Canaria, LHR-MAD-TFN-LPA-MAD-LHR, A320,ATR, A321
British Airways, London To Amsterdam, LGW-AMS-LHR, B737 & A321
British Airways up to a snowy Glasgow, with a change of flights and delay, LHR-GLA-LCY A321 and E90
Turkish Airlines Business Class from London to Istanbul. From Terrible To Fantastic
Turkish Airlines Business Class from Istanbul to Batumi (Georgia). Not again!
bmi Business Class, Tbilisi to London via Azerbaijan
Tallinn to London, with Estonian Air and BA, via ARN
Cuba! BA/IB London-Madrid-Havana, Business Class
Aerocarribean, Baracoa to Havana
Asia Trip, Pt 1: Qatar Airways Business Class (LHR-DOH-ICN)
Asia Trip, Pt 2: China Southern and Hainan Airlines (A321/A346)
Asia Trip, Pt 3: Malaysia Airlines, Hong Kong to Penang
Asia Trip, Pt 4: Qatar Airways Economy (HKG-DOH-LHR)
A weekend in Transylvania with Blue Air (LTN-SBZ)
Helsinki for the weekend on BA and KF
Easter in Ukraine with Austrian
UAE and Oman with BA and Air Arabia. Y & Y+
HKG-LHR-HKG Air New Zealand, Premium Economy and Economy
US Airways LGW-DCA-MSP-LGA-LGW
London Heathrow - Zurich - Venice on Swiss Business for the weekend
Chasing the Eclipse on China Eastern
Taiwan: EVA Air (HKG-TPE rtn), UNI Airways (TSA-HCN), Daily Air (TTT-KYD rtn)
UA HKG-SIN-HKG Y Class, SQ KUL-SIN C Class
Bangkok to Beijing, Egyptair Business Class
Air China Beijing to Harbin, B777 Economy outbound, A330 First Class return
Tiger Airways, Singapore to Darwin return
A selection of Chinese Domestics; China Eastern, Air China and Shenzhen Airlines
Hong Kong to London on Singapore Airlines (744/380/77W)
Qatar Airways Beijing-Doha-London Heathrow (A330/A340)
Air China First Class. Beijing-Guilin via Xi’an
Round Asia Trip. URC-HTN,OSS-FRU,ALA-URC-LHW-KMG-JHG-KMG-SYX,HAK-NKG-PEK-NRT-LHR,
Hainan Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Lucky Air, ANA, Economy and Business Class.

SAS and Lufthansa Business Class, LHR-OSL-FRA-FRA, B73G and B744



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
User currently offlineCaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 677 posts, RR: 21
Reply 4, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 13828 times:

Hi Gabriel,

awesome report with some nice pictures, especially like the ones from Bujumbura. Always interested in reports from Africa. Too bad your experience on SN was only so and so, never tried them myself but so far I have heard mostly good things about them.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
She printed my boarding card, and tagged my two bags. I then had to have both my hand bags weighed and tagged. Never had that happen like that before. I wonder why they are so strict about Africa bound bags?

I guess they do that on flights to Africa because a lot of the traffic is VFR and most people use up all the allowed baggage capacity. Plus they would bring like 20 kg or more of 'carry-on' if it wouldn't be checked.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Oh, and a very nice Leffe, which was possibly the best thing loaded onto the flight.

Now that's cool, one good thing about flying a Belgian carrier. Leffe is actually my favorite Belgian beer. To bad there were no fries to eat   ...

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I watched as they SLOWLY filled in all the documentation (God help them if they ever get more than 1 pax per flight, it could take days) – eventually I was given a hand written boarding pass (and hand written tags).

Nice story with all the mess, that is Africa, but also nice that in the end it always works out somehow.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
With the van to myself, I could finally take some photos!

Interesting architecture here. Are these solar panels?

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
At the top of the stairs I was greeted by a smiling guy saying “Ah, so you’re our special passenger then!”

What a nice welcome  

Now I got to check out your first part of the trip, and of course looking forward to read the next parts about your adventures.

CaptainRed


User currently offlineAlwaysOnAPlane From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2010, 305 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 13769 times:

Gabe.

As expected, part 2 is really interesting. You are quite the adventurer and flying into some of these less well covered places is brilliant.

From your pictures I feel the SN J product on this ex LX bird was slightly rusty and unorganised. The food looks a bit bland, but ok I guess?

Really good pictures from Burundi and that beef brochette looks amazing. Interesting to see another local brew also.

I like the sound of the SA service. Really nice you got those few extra personal touches and the wink off the cabin crew.

Roll on part 3.

Cheers, Lee.


User currently offlineeastafspot From France, joined Jan 2008, 660 posts, RR: 12
Reply 6, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 13676 times:

some really good pictures, too bad to hear about your ordeal with SAA

thanks a lot for sharing with us and looking for to the next part



Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 7, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 13616 times:

Thanks for the replies so far!

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 4):

awesome report with some nice pictures,

Thanks!

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 4):
Too bad your experience on SN was only so and so, never tried them myself but so far I have heard mostly good things about them.

Well, has they had a proper SN plane on the BJM route then things would have been better

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 4):
I guess they do that on flights to Africa because a lot of the traffic is VFR and most people use up all the allowed baggage capacity. Plus they would bring like 20 kg or more of 'carry-on' if it wouldn't be checked.

I didn't see anyone with that much hand luggage. Weighing and tagging a C pax's 2nd bag that only wiehged 2 kg seemed a bit petit

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 4):
Now that's cool, one good thing about flying a Belgian carrier. Leffe is actually my favorite Belgian beer. To bad there were no fries to eat ...

Yeah, chips would have been great...or a gaufre!

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 4):
Interesting architecture here. Are these solar panels?

It's Burundi so I doubt it!

Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 5):
As expected, part 2 is really interesting. You are quite the adventurer and flying into some of these less well covered places is brilliant.

Well the more I travel the more I realise that I am definately not a trailblazer - so many foreigners around here, although probably not that many tourists (except at the gorillas). Glad you liked part 2 though!

Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 5):
From your pictures I feel the SN J product on this ex LX bird was slightly rusty and unorganised. The food looks a bit bland, but ok I guess?

The p[lane was rusty. The food was adequate, but nowhere near proper C class. I bet an SQ/CX/QR FA would have a heart attack witnessing the flight!

Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 5):
Really good pictures from Burundi and that beef brochette looks amazing. Interesting to see another local brew also.

Thanks. That brochette was really good, although I think it may be been the one responsible for making me sick the next day....

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 6):
some really good pictures

Thanks! I'm currently enjoying the peace of Gisenyi!

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 6):
too bad to hear about your ordeal with SAA

Me too - lucky it worked out though



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
User currently offlinejwhite9185 From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 1150 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 13470 times:

Funny how you stayed in the Stanhope hotel... I was actually looking at that one for March but went for the Progress Hotel instead as its nearer the train station, and main road.

Good TR as usual!



A300,A319,A320,A321,A333,A343,A346,A388,732,733,734,735,738,741,742,744,752,763,772,77W,788,Q400,DC10,E145,E170,E175,E19
User currently offlinedeltamartin From Sweden, joined Dec 2010, 1061 posts, RR: 7
Reply 9, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 13458 times:

Hi Gabriel!

As usual a very nice and interesting tripreport!
You seem to have a pretty nice time in Africa, too bad about that schedule change mishap though.
The longhaul C product you experienced with SN didn't seem to be the best one. As you mentioned, it might have been a completely different experience if you'd have gotten another aircraft though.
It was also nice to see some pictures of Brussels, I was there in 2010, it's a nice town!

Martin


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1692 posts, RR: 18
Reply 10, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 13443 times:

Hi Gabriel

Thanks for posting, I've been looking forward to the second part of your African adventure.

Although the flight on the A330 does not seem to have been too much fun for you, it was good to see those old Swissair Business Class seats in action. I spent many blissful hours dozing away on those seats when the aircraft still flew for SR/LX. They seem so dated now.

So am I right in assuming, also from part 1, that SN are much better on their medium/short-haul than on their long-haul product?

I was also rather intrigued about the concept of couchsurfing, which I'd never heard of before. I'm more the pampering luxury kind of traveler. I thought it was quite funny because I guess a tent in a strangers back yard is probably not the typical kind of accommodation for your average Business Class passenger.

In any case, I'm looking forward to reading your next installment. I'm quite enjoying this. The pictures of Africa are just lovely.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 13396 times:

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 8):
Funny how you stayed in the Stanhope hotel... I was actually looking at that one for March but went for the Progress Hotel instead as its nearer the train station, and main road.

Well for the price I couldn't say no

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 8):
Good TR as usual!

Thanks!

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 9):
As usual a very nice and interesting tripreport!

Thanks

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 9):

The longhaul C product you experienced with SN didn't seem to be the best one. As you mentioned, it might have been a completely different experience if you'd have gotten another aircraft though

I guess it would have been better in the normal SN plane

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 10):
Thanks for posting, I've been looking forward to the second part of your African adventure.

Glad you liked it!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 10):
Although the flight on the A330 does not seem to have been too much fun for you, it was good to see those old Swissair Business Class seats in action. I spent many blissful hours dozing away on those seats when the aircraft still flew for SR/LX. They seem so dated now.

They ARE dated. Thankfully they;re not long for this world

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 10):
So am I right in assuming, also from part 1, that SN are much better on their medium/short-haul than on their long-haul product?

Well, that's my experience. I didn't think the longhual crew were terribly friendly. I built up more of a rapport with the IB crew going MAD-HAV

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 10):
I was also rather intrigued about the concept of couchsurfing, which I'd never heard of before. I'm more the pampering luxury kind of traveler. I thought it was quite funny because I guess a tent in a strangers back yard is probably not the typical kind of accommodation for your average Business Class passenger.

I like to keep myself guessing! I often find myself 5* one night, no frills the next, or first class one day, hostel the next. Makes travel more interesting! Camping was excellent, and I;m so glad I did it rather than paying a lot for a souless hotel room in a town I would be too scared to visit on my own

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 10):
The pictures of Africa are just lovely.

Thank you!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
User currently offlinePieterBoth From Belgium, joined Jan 2010, 64 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 13300 times:

Nice report again! Doesn't look as though SN was that great , it's a shame! Maybe indeed it might have been different had it not been the ex-LX aircraft, but the whole long haul fleet will apparently get refurbished as from this year, don't know over what timeframe though. But that's no consolation   Great pics from Burundi especially that first photo from your trip to Gitenga of the road and the dense trees.

User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1085 posts, RR: 32
Reply 13, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 13123 times:

Hi Gabriel.

I had no idea you had been out adventuring in Africa. Good stuff.. . . I am just reading Blood River at the moment and discovering how recently turbulent that whole area was. . .

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
bmi, London-Casablanca, Economy A319
TAP Air Portugal, Casablanca-Lisbon, Business ERJ
Brussels Airlines, Lisbon-Brussels, Business A319

Africa 2
Brussels Airlines, Brussels-Bujumbura, Business A332
South African Airlines, Bujumbura-Kigali, Business A319

Africa 3
Ethiopian Airlines, Kigali-Entebbe-Addis Ababa, Business B737
Ethiopian Airlines, Addis Ababa-Dar es Salaam-Zanzibar, Business B767
Undecided, Zanzibar-Dar es Salaam

Africa 4
Swiss, Dar es Salaam-Nairobi-Zurich, First A333

Africa 5
Swiss, Zurich-Athens, Business A320
Aegean, Athens-Larnaca, Business A320

Africa 6
British Airways, Larnaca-London, Business B767

Bloody hell! A six part series.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Our neighbour heading to Luanda and Kinshasa

Lordy . . . not a flight I fancy yet, I can imagine that getting through those airports smoothly is wishful thinking.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Lake Aswan

Beautiful. Almost this time last year I was cruising up there on the weekly ferry to Egypt.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
rather bizarre but great fun, and only possible though Couchsurfing!

Exactly! Don't get that with hostels that is for sure.

Flights looked very plain, and kudos for commenting on it. I mean, a bar of soap in business class should be a sackable offence. Thought the food looked really tired too. SN don't have to be too competitive on these niche routes, but that will change when Gulf carriers start to move into the region more.

SA flight seemed cool and unique. Approve RE g&t!

Rgds

Luke



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1067 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 13074 times:

It was worth reading your report just for that fantastic picture of the gorilla. it was so unexpected. Fantastic. I never really had any interest in seeing them before.

User currently offlineokapi From France, joined Jun 2006, 206 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 12934 times:

Hello Mr Gabriel, a truly nice report indeed. I've followed your trips from the start. So far I have the feeling inconsistency is pretty common amongst airlines nowadays. As you mention Abrelosojos' famous report from FIH to BRU, I too expected you to taste the usually outstanding service given by Belgian FA's on their almost African airline. What a pity! That plane is a shameful reminiscence of the late 80's or early 90's. I hope they refurbish it asap.
On the other hand, I'm happy you had a good time in Burundi. Quite a funny place where no one is ever in a hurry, but it's the same all over Africa. The nice fresh Primus probably helped forgetting all those imperfections. You can find Primus in hardcore   DR Congo too. Belgian heritage of course.

I suppose the distant view of both the Caravelle and a Gorilla will be the true highlights of this epic journey.

I wish you the best for the rest of your trip.

Take care.

OKP


User currently offlineSR117 From Mexico, joined Jun 2000, 793 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 12808 times:

Hey Gabriel

Thanks a lot for the report, wow, that looks like a fun trip, you're quite brave and flexible to go from nice hotels one day to "couch" surfing in someone's yard in Bujumbura the next ; ) But variety is the spice of life.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Yes, definitely the old Swiss plane

Wow, HB-IQA, Swissair's first ever A330-200.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Yup, the old cabin as expected.

This is when "historic" and a nice business class experience seem to come at odds. Those seats might have been fine in 1998, but not anymore ; ) At least the flight wasn't too long.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
It was also interesting to note that there were only pillows and no blankets on the seats %u2013 on request only?

Wow, strange they didn't have blankets on each seat.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
My windows were spectacularly scratched when seen at from a certain angle %u2013 what would have caused that?

Ahh yes, the scratched window, probably happens when plane is being cleaned or something. They are the worst enemy for anyone who likes to take pictures from their window (along with condensation). When combined with bad lighting, they can totally ruin your inflight pictures ! Sorry you had to run into one.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
It was as we were nearing Khartoum that the purser came to have a chat.

After the so so catering and the lack of amenities in the restroom, it was nice of the purser to come and discuss it with you. While he may not be able to do much about the catering, at least it's a nice touch that he took the time to discuss it with you.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Bujumbura’s Musée Vivant – plenty of local wildlife

Wow, are those real live breathing reptiles in front of you??

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Another Primus with lunch

Ahh, looks relaxing, a nice lunch in East Africa with a nice cold beer to cool down.

Good thing you managed to fix the itinerary before you got to the airport and that it worked out in the end. I guess that's the risky part of routes that are only flown a couple of times a week. Changes can really put a dent in your plans.

That's one interesting looking terminal in Kigali btw.

Definitely looks like an amazing experience, hope you are enjoying it. Look forward to the next installment.

Ricardo


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 17, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 12616 times:

Quoting PieterBoth (Reply 12):
Nice report again!

Thanks!

Quoting PieterBoth (Reply 12):
Maybe indeed it might have been different had it not been the ex-LX aircraft, but the whole long haul fleet will apparently get refurbished as from this year, don't know over what timeframe though

The SA)">HB plane should be done aroiund April, the rest by Q1 2013

Quoting PieterBoth (Reply 12):
Great pics from Burundi especially that first photo from your trip to Gitenga of the road and the dense trees.

Thanks

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 13):

I had no idea you had been out adventuring in Africa.

Yup, and I'm still here!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 13):
Lordy . . . not a flight I fancy yet, I can imagine that getting through those airports smoothly is wishful thinking.

It would make for an interesting SA Linhas Aereas">TR though!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 13):
Flights looked very plain, and kudos for commenting on it. I mean, a bar of soap in business class should be a sackable offence. Thought the food looked really tired too. SN don't have to be too competitive on these niche routes, but that will change when Gulf carriers start to move into the region more.

Well, SN will still have a lot of monopolies direct from Europe, not to mention *A.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 13):
SA flight seemed cool and unique. Approve RE g&t!

I was most pleased to see a little green bottle this time!

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 14):
It was worth reading your report just for that fantastic picture of the gorilla. it was so unexpected. Fantastic. I never really had any interest in seeing them before.

Glad I can inpsire you!

Quoting okapi (Reply 15):
a truly nice report indeed.

Thanks

Quoting okapi (Reply 15):
So far I have the feeling inconsistency is pretty common amongst airlines nowadays

UNfortunately it';s true

Quoting okapi (Reply 15):
I hope they refurbish it asap.

In the next 2/3 months

Quoting okapi (Reply 15):
I wish you the best for the rest of your trip.

Thanks!

Quoting SR117 (Reply 16):

Thanks a lot for the report,

Thanks

Quoting SR117 (Reply 16):
But variety is the spice of life.

Indeed it is

Quoting SR117 (Reply 16):
Wow, SA)">HB-IQA, Swissair's first ever A330-200.

And still flying with the original seats!

Quoting SR117 (Reply 16):
This is when "historic" and a nice business class experience seem to come at odds. Those seats might have been fine in 1998, but not anymore ; ) At least the flight wasn't too long.

Yes, and thank goodness it was the daytime flight, not overnight

Quoting SR117 (Reply 16):
After the so so catering and the lack of amenities in the restroom, it was nice of the purser to come and discuss it with you. While he may not be able to do much about the catering, at least it's a nice touch that he took the time to discuss it with you.
Quoting SR117 (Reply 16):
Wow, are those real live breathing reptiles in front of you??

It's not called the Living Museum for nothing  
Quoting SR117 (Reply 16):

Definitely looks like an amazing experience, hope you are enjoying it.

I am! Got another 3 nights in Rwanda before Ethiopia and Tanzania



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2430 posts, RR: 53
Reply 18, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 12542 times:

Hi Gabriel,

Nice follow up of your African adventure. Excellent story, especially the VIP treatment you got on a short SA hop to KGL. The personal approach made you indeed very special.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
and you get angry people trying to not let you in (understandably).

Did you have to say aloud to them that you were in fact flying Business Class?

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
I got a bottle of vodka

That’s a nice deal.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
My glass also had a crack in it.

Ouch! Did you ask a replacement. The crack could be dangerous.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Oh, and a very nice Leffe, which was possibly the best thing loaded onto the flight

Nothing beats a good Belgian beer.  


Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Time to switch to gin

Your signature drink.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
I took a nice picture of the plane as I was walking, but got stopped and was forced to delete it : (

This does not encourage me to fly to Africa.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
Guinea Pigs (for feeding to the snakes and crocs)

How cruel! Those cute Guinea Pigs! I would have bought all of them and taken back home.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 3):
The guy opposite recorded take off : )

Did you strike a conversation with him? He might be interested in A.net.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 3):
The smiling FA made a welcome announcement reminding everyone not to leave personal items aboard “including spouses and children”.

  


Thank you for sharing and have a nice weekend.

Best wishes,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 19, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 12499 times:

Hi Suryo

Quoting akhmad (Reply 18):
Excellent story, especially the VIP treatment you got on a short SA hop to KGL. The personal approach made you indeed very special.

Well having good crew only made up for the terrible check in!

Quoting akhmad (Reply 18):
Did you have to say aloud to them that you were in fact flying Business Class?

No, I didn't say anything!

Quoting akhmad (Reply 18):
Ouch! Did you ask a replacement. The crack could be dangerous.

I didn't ask for a replacement, but I did point it out to the FA

Quoting akhmad (Reply 18):
Your signature drink.

Yup

Quoting akhmad (Reply 18):
Did you strike a conversation with him? He might be interested in A.net.

Flight was too short!

Quoting akhmad (Reply 18):
Thank you for sharing and have a nice weekend.

Thanks, you too!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
User currently onlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8430 posts, RR: 55
Reply 20, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 12445 times:
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Hi Gabriel,

Great read as one expects these days!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
There was a %u2018Fast Lane%u2019 for C pax, however, it just led near the front of a normal lane meaning there is still a queue, and you get angry people trying to not let you in

- I hate these types of queues, as you point out, those Y pax that have been in a long queue don't like to give way to premium passengers who just cut the line in effect, I can kind of see their point.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
My glass also had a crack in it.

- How poor, BA gave me a cracked mug once but you never noticed until the coffee started to seep through some minutes later.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I asked the FA for the tomato and was told %u201Csorry, because of the type of plane, we can only offer one choice

- Get off, I bet LX never said that to their passengers when they flew this bird!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Diamond Club swore that they emailed me….shame the email never arrived.

- Diamond Club are terrible for sending e-mail 's, even of flight bookings!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
There were no signs on the desks so went to a bored looking woman and asked if I could check in for SA here to Kigali. She looked a bit surprised and said that it left at 2pm (it being around 1403 by this point).
Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
The station manager apologised (sort of) and said that they didn’t have my contact details, so couldn’t tell me about the change. They weren’t expecting me! Turns out I was the first SA pax to fly just BJM-KIG. What an honour!

- What on earth was going on? I assume the bored woman had no idea the flight was due?

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
After around ten minutes of staring into space, a guard came in and asked to see my passport. Ten minutes later he came back saying I had the wrong sort of passport (i.e not a diplomatic one). I tried explaining that I had a business class ticket, but he didn’t accept that. It was hardly a negative being chucked out as the main terminal was infinitely more interesting

- How inviting, not a country I think I need to worry about, you've done it for me, cheers  
Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Plastic bags are illegal in Rwanda

- Great move, more countries should adopt this policy.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I was quite looking forward to my flight after reading abrelosojos’s report, but as always there are two sides to every story!

- I bet you you were, all in all it looked quite disapointing, however with no competition on the route and few choices to get to the place, how good does your service and product need to be?

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333,342
User currently offlineroberts87 From Netherlands, joined Dec 2011, 909 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 12299 times:

Wow, a really interesting trip report again. I'm not sure I would like go 'off the beaten path that much'. Great that you also cover your destinations this extensively, definately not a destination covered in many reports.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Time to check out the Sunrise Lounge, opened specially for the African flights. The friendly lady on the door welcomed me, gave me some wifi cards and then ASSURED me that the plane had the new seats.

So only Africa pax are allowed in this lounge? Or also other non-Schengen pax?

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
What? I really don%u2019t understand why the aircraft type can stop you putting one starter on half the trays, and the other on the other half???

Yeah, that's strange.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
I know some of you think I complain too much, but if I had spent nearly US$4,000 for a one way ticket to Bujumbura, I would have been furious.

Too bad your experience wasn't what you had expected. I can understand why you would send a complaint.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
My flight had been moved from 0745 on Wednesday to 1605 on Friday with no warning! That’s over 64 hours later! I was furious, but more than that really worried. My visa was only for 3 days but more importantly I had already booked and paid (over $600!) to go Gorilla trekking in Rwanda on the Thursday. This would NOT do.

Ouch. Fortunately things worked out.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 3):
I watched as they SLOWLY filled in all the documentation (God help them if they ever get more than 1 pax per flight, it could take days) – eventually I was given a hand written boarding pass (and hand written tags).

Oh well, an interesting experience I'd say.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
It was quite a nice feeling being the only passenger boarding – just a shame the plane had people already waiting from JNB. At the top of the stairs I was greeted by a smiling guy saying “Ah, so you’re our special passenger then!” The plane was pretty empty, with 5 pax in C, and 15 in Y

Private van to the airplane, personel welcome on board. LH First Class Terminal Africa style?  
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 3):
The guy opposite recorded take off : )

Another trip reporter?  


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 22, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 12262 times:

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 20):
Great read as one expects these days!

Thanks!


Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 20):
- Get off, I bet LX never said that to their passengers when they flew this bird!

I'm sure they didn't!

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 20):
- Diamond Club are terrible for sending e-mail 's, even of flight bookings!

They sent me a change of schedule as soon as I spoke to them, so they can do it sometimes

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 20):
- What on earth was going on? I assume the bored woman had no idea the flight was due?

Well she didn't work for SA. SA only started BJM a week earlier, and the times had just changed so no reason her her to know!

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 20):
- I bet you you were, all in all it looked quite disapointing, however with no competition on the route and few choices to get to the place, how good does your service and product need to be?

Well there is increasing competition now. I mean now there are 3 *A carrier in BJM (more than Belarus/Molodva/Iceland/Chile etc. Hopefully SN will have to up their game

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 21):
Wow, a really interesting trip report again

Thanks, glad you liked it

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 21):
So only Africa pax are allowed in this lounge? Or also other non-Schengen pax?

In the morning it's just African pax, in the afternoon they open the border and Schengen pax can use it too

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 21):
Oh well, an interesting experience I'd say.

Very interesting

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 21):
Private van to the airplane, personel welcome on board. LH First Class Terminal Africa style?

Almost!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26507 posts, RR: 58
Reply 23, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 12252 times:

WOW what can I say what an adventure ! Love the Tin Tin feature on the building in BRU !

You are so brave to take a tent in someones garden . Fair play to you .

Lovely photos and one of the best African TRs I have seen. Really something different .

The SN product looks a mixed bag shame you didnt get the new product as Im sure its alot better.

Looking forward to the rest of the reports.

Regards

Philip  



AEGEAN-OLYMPIC AIR - ΟΛΥΜΠΙΑΚΗ " μέλος στη Star Alliance
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 24, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 12154 times:

Quoting OA260 (Reply 23):
WOW what can I say what an adventure !

Thanks Phil

Quoting OA260 (Reply 23):
Love the Tin Tin feature on the building in BRU !

So did I - I love Tintin!

Quoting OA260 (Reply 23):
Lovely photos and one of the best African TRs I have seen. Really something different .

Thanks!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
25 Post contains images sultanils : Hi Gabriel, I read your report with great interest. I found it nice to see something familiar here, now you see what I see everytime I post a report e
26 gabrielchew : Yes, it was nice to have a look around BRU It's hard to read a great TR then do a similar flight without expecting something similar Well, that and t
27 MEA-707 : Cool read Gabriel. I am sure you are also the first person to fly in Business Class to Africa and then spend the night in a tent within the city bound
28 gabrielchew : Thanks! Propbably - what a distinction! Yeah, was my first Caravelle sighting I wish you the best! Well apparently Goma is safe, but the visa is $285
29 9w748capt : My goodness, what an brilliant report - and apologies to abrelosojos, but this may be the best, most random, and most adventurous putting-yourself-out
30 signol : Hi Gabriel, nice to read your next leg! Business class on SN does seem to be hit and miss - After Abrelosojos's glowing report, I was expecting better
31 gabrielchew : Thanks! Thanks again, although I didn't pay $4K for my flight (I spent miles!) Thanks Well the proper SN fleet has had lie flat seats for years. The
32 Post contains links and images abrelosojos : First of all, can I tell you how much I enjoyed your trip report? Really fantastic stuff. It really made my lazy Sunday morning over coffee perfect. T
33 gabrielchew : I'm glad I could brighten up your Sunday morning! I actually had a read of that last night! Well at least she just let me pass rather than cause prob
34 LXM83 : Hi gabrielchew Nice 2nd part of your itinerary. Glad you got found a way to leave BJM again, after all that confusion by SA. I'd love to try a Primus!
35 MSS658 : Hi Gab Great report you have got there. It was a nice read! First of all It was a pleasure meeting you in Brussels last week! I must say I really enjo
36 767747 : Interesting to read your report on SN and SA. I'm not too impressed with SN's service on such a long-haul flight; the idea of a lack of space seems bi
37 gabrielchew : Thanks! So am I, I was a bit nervous! I'm sure you can track them down somewhere in CH Thanks! Was very nice to meet you too! Thanks, hope you liked
38 Tomskii : [imghttp://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/africa1/CIMG9849.jpg[/img] This airline is a joint venture of SN & LH to start in the DRC(Demo
39 gabrielchew : I thought so. I agree, the livery is much better than the SN one Well, I think it depends a lot on the crew, and the aircraft (and expectations)
40 jimmyjames : Awesome trip report. That's an old SR aircraft! They still even have the really old blue business seats from over 10 years ago. Kind of cool to see th
41 Post contains images gabrielchew : Thanks! Hm, I'm glad you liked the sight of the old blue seats Well, all of the fleet has lie flat seats except this LX plane
42 PlaneHunter : Hi Gabriel, really interesting report about your Africa adventure. SN's J Class product looks rather average IMO. Unbelievable! Wow, what a mess! Very
43 globalflyer : Hi Gabriel... WOW! What an amazing adventure. Wonderful photography. Cannot wait to read further. Cheers, Will
44 gabrielchew : THanks! Yes, very mediocre Yeah, it was. I'm surpised that that's nor part of what cleaners have to do. It didn't look like it had been cleaned in a
45 Post contains images FlyingFinn76 : Hi Gab, A wonderful continuation of your journey. Hope Africa treats you well. Shame about that old fashioned equipment and J cabin you got - it's qui
46 Post contains links and images debonair : Great TR, nice to read such "exotic" destinations... Well, indeed the BusinessClass looks pretty poor and old fashioned... I can't understand why SN h
47 Post contains images gabrielchew : Thanks! I've enjoyed most of what I've experienced in Rwanda - off to ADD and ZNZ tomorrow Yeah, it wasn't too awful overall Yeah, I;d still amazed b
48 The777Man : Hi Gabriel ! Thanks for a very interesting part 2 in this Africa series! Too bad the experience in J on SN wasn't all that great..... BJM looks intere
49 chepos : Excellent trip report, very well written and interesting. The schedule change for your SAA flights is unacceptable. I am looking forward to reading yo
50 gabrielchew : No nprobem, glad you like it Yeah, they could have been so much better It WAS interesting - glad I decided to go! Thanks! Yeah, althogh it was BD's f
51 Post contains images LH4116 : Hey there, Gabriel Chew Chew. Great report! I also saw that hotel on Hotels.com. 5 stars for such a cheap price, surely there had to be a catch. Nice
52 gabrielchew : Thanks Jo-jo-jo-jonas Well, I think that normal rates are over 100 EUR, not sure why my rate was so low I guess my FTL card would have worked Ha, unf
53 alexeu : Hi, Thanks for this beautiful trip report! I always found SN management interesting for their decision to be serving a large number of African locatio
54 gabrielchew : Thanks! Well, they don't fly to each destination very often. They ponly ghave a fleet of 5/6 A330, so can't compete on frequency, just range of desti
55 Post contains images Tomskii : Yes that are some factors as well, I have not tried my flag carrier yet on long haul, but with the new cabins being introduced in the coming months I
56 FLIEGER67 : Hi, Gabriel, what a story. It seems you should be really flexible with travelling around Africa. Great pictures also, especially you´re last Gorilla
57 Post contains images 717Flyer : Hi Gabriel, After a tough week full with exams your report was a great way to relax. From your tent accommodation to the itinerary change and the chec
58 gabrielchew : No problem, glad you liked it! Please do - I'd be interested to know what he thinks Yes, very flexible! Thanks! Glad you can relax with the sound of
59 Post contains images fasty : Hi Gabriel, Extremely interesting and detailed report about your experience in the Great Lakes Checking in to African flights is always a mess, and ho
60 gabrielchew : Thanks! SN is trying to prepare you for Africa! Yes, I'm pretty sure - once the African flights are gone, the doors to T are opened and they become A
61 Tomskii : Although the doors are opened and the remaining gates become A gates, the sunrise lounge is only open in mornings for the african (and from June NY) f
62 Post contains links gabrielchew : Hi! I just checked the SN website: http://www.brusselsairlines.com/com/...nformation/default.aspx?item=20474 BRUSSELS LOUNGES - LOCATION AND OPENING
63 Post contains images infodesk : Hi Gab, I'm writing this whilst you're in the air on the way to ATH. Your report is fascinating, you're a real globetrotter. Shame that SN was a disap
64 gabrielchew : Glad you liked it - was great to meet you earlier! Yeah, prices in ZRH were horrendous! More expensive than UK duty-paid booze! I WAS worried - getti
65 Post contains images eastafspot : Gabriel Finally, i got myself the time to seat comfortably and read carefully your awesome Africa Tour. I'm really pleased that you changed your usual
66 gabrielchew : Hi Léonard! Yeah, it wasn't the best flight, but not the worst either No. I had my certificate, but no one anywhere asked for it Yeah, I felt very sa
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