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My 35,191 Mile Journey On QF, SA And UA!  
User currently offlineSA7700 From South Africa, joined Dec 2003, 3431 posts, RR: 26
Posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4801 times:
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SA 1004 (Operated by SA Express Airways): BFN-JNB

Aircraft: DH8
Registration: ZS-NLY
Seating data: 1C
Boarding gate: 2
Date of departure: November 24, 2004
Time of departure: 09h40
Time of arrival: 10h45
Departure runway: 02; 2,559m (8,395ft), 44/F/A/X/U, No ILS
Arrival runway: 03R; 3,400m (11,154ft), Load: LCN 70, ICAO Cat. 2, Aircraft size max: B747-400, ILS

After months of planning and feverish anticipation, the day of my departure finally arrived! Actually, I was supposed to head out to JNB on SA1020 at 13h50, but decided to go on standby for an earlier flight.

My sister did me a big favour, rushing me out to the airport for the earlier flight, but also to “discuss” some items I had to get for her in Australia and the States. Check-in was quick and efficient, with my luggage booked through to SYD. We spent some last minutes together until the boarding announcement was made. Boarding commenced through gate 2, where SA Express Airways (ZS-NLY) was waiting for her full passenger load on the tarmac. We had an on-time departure on runway 02 in a Northerly direction, heading for Johannesburg. Shortly after the seatbelt sign was turned off, we were offered snacks and beverages. The flight was rather uneventful and it was not very long before we touched down in Johannesburg. Landing on runway 03R, we had a rather long taxi to the C-apron where all SA Express Airways and SA Airlink flights park at remote stands.


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Photo © Andrew Beckett
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Photo © Zak Economides



SA7700 (Operated by Qantas Airways as QF64): JNB-SYD

Aircraft: B744ER
Registration: VJ-OEJ (Wunala Dreaming)
Seating data: 48C
Boarding gate: A2
Date of departure: November 24, 2004
Time of departure: 17h50
Time of arrival: 14h35+1
Departure runway: 03L, 4,418m (14,494ft), Load: LCN 70, ICAO Cat. 2, Aircraft size max: B747-400, Rwy 03L, ILS
Arrival runway: 16R, 3,962m (12,998ft), Aircraft size max: B747-400, B777, Rwy 16R, ILS CAT I, Lighting: HIRL, HIAL (CAT II), T-VASIS, TDZ

From Domestic Arrivals, I made my way over to the International Terminal to meet up with some friends over a beer. Sitting on the Mezzanine level of the International Departures Terminal, we had a birds-eye view of the departures level where quite a few airlines were checking in their passengers, most notably TAAG – where there usually is some chaos involved with passengers taking home huge amounts of luggage.

Time to say goodbye to my friends and I went through Customs and Immigration to the airside. I made a quick browse through the rather sizeable Duty Free Shopping area and then went on to News Café to grab a cocktail, having a fabulous view over runway 03L and 03R to the East. On the horizon, a large red plane was coming in to land on 03R – could it be? Wunala Dreaming touched down and she would be taking me down to Sydney that evening! Boarding time was getting close and I quickly made my way down to the South African Airways Baobab Lounge where I grabbed I quick shower and then made my way to boarding gate A2.

As usual, boarding was quite chaotic, as Johannesburg have no dedicated gate seating areas at the A-apron, with tons of passengers clogging the hallways and boarding agents trying their utmost best to process as many passengers as quickly as possible. Eventually I got to my seat, noticing the B777-style overhead bins, which QF had installed on their B744ER’s – to be quite honest they effectively create more cabin space, however they do not have the same capacity as their B744 counterparts. Lucky for both myself and the lady seated in 48A, nobody was seated in 48B, so we had some extra space. The captain made his hastiness to get out of Johannesburg apparent; we were delayed by about 45 minutes now, when he announced on the PA-system that the cabin crew had about 10 minutes to take-off. From there on everything went quite speedy and it was not long before we taxied onto runway 03L and immediately started our take-off to the North. We turned to the Southeast over Pretoria and headed to the Indian Ocean, where we left South African soil just south of Richards Bay, heading to Sydney

The in-flight entertainment system was activated and the beverage- and dinner service commenced. Regrettably, the cabin crew was surly and definitely not in the mood to be of service to the economy class – just a smile here and there would have done the job. In addition, some of the PTV’s were not working at all; and quite a few overhead lights were malfunctioning, flickering on and off the entire time. This was quite disturbing, but I decided to make the best of an unpleasant situation and just put on my CD Walkman headphones, eyeshades and went to sleep.

At about 14h30, the cabin crew started scrambling around preparing the cabin for landing in Sydney. Somewhere along the line, I must have missed either a breakfast or lunch, but hey who cares, the outskirts of Sydney were coming into view. We aligned for runway 16R and got a beautiful view of Sydney Harbour, Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. At 15h00 we touched down on 16R; taxiing towards the International Terminal. On the left hand-side of the plane, fellow spotters could clearly be seen on a boat, speeding on the waters of Botany Bay, next to Wunala, taking pictures – I guess they got lucky that day!
Eventually we docked at the International Terminal and I made my way to Customs and Immigration as quickly as possible, in order to avoid any queues. Welcomed in Australia with my passport stamped, I got my luggage from the carrousel, just to be picked out by an AQIS agent (Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service) to unload the contents of my entire suitcase for his scrutiny. Well anything to keep Australia clean, but the question about the presence of laundry detergent in my luggage, was actually quite puzzling.
Quite irritable at this stage, I decided to afford myself the luxury of a taxi to the Avillion Hotel in Pitt Street - rather than wasting any more time on the tedious Kingsford Smith transporters. It was time for my Aussie holiday to start!


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Photo © Brendan Vanderwerf
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Photo © Dale Coleman



SA7701 (Operated by Qantas Airways as QF63): SYD-JNB

Aircraft: B744
Registration: VJ-OJN
Seating data: 48C
Boarding gate: B34
Date of departure: December 1, 2004
Time of departure: 10h35
Time of arrival: 15h30
Departure runway: 16R, 3,962m (12,998ft), Aircraft size max: B747-400, B777, Rwy 16R, ILS CAT I, Lighting: HIRL, HIAL (CAT II), T-VASIS, TDZ
Arrival runway: 03R, 3,400m (11,154ft), Load: LCN 70, ICAO Cat. 2, Aircraft size max: B747-400, ILS

Checked-in at Sydney International Terminal, with my luggage booked through to San Francisco, I had my boarding passes for SYD-JNB-JFK in hand and headed through customs. With no lounge access, I wandered through the B-pier, checking out the duty-free shopping as well as doing some spotting on the runways. Boarding commenced on time, we pushed back from the gate, and taxied out to runways 16R/34L, ATC still deciding which runway we would use as the wind direction was changing at that time. Eventually we took of at 11h15 and used a huge section of 16R before rotating.
With the flight completely packed, I decided it would be best for my own sanity to listen to some of my CD’s and try to get to sleep. “Thankfully” I missed lunch, not in the mood elbowing the elderly lady next to me, just in order to cut a piece of meat.
As usual it felt as if the flight would take forever, being daylight the entire 14 hours, with virtually nothing to see, except for some amazing icebergs floating down in the ocean on the way to Johannesburg.
In contrast with the cabin crew on QF64 down to Sydney, the crew on the flight to Johannesburg were amazing. They really did their utmost best to make our long flight as comfortable as possible, assisting wherever and whenever they could. Through small gestures, they walloped their counterparts on QF64’s behinds and rendered invaluable service to passengers despite the fact that we were seated in Y-class. Accolades to this particular crew!

At 15h55, we touched down on runway 03R at Johannesburg International and taxied towards gate A2 at the International Terminal. Transferring to another international flight, I quickly checked with South African Airways ground staff whether my waitlisted upgrade to J-class had cleared – alas, no such luck.


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Photo © Brenden
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Photo © Peter Unmuth - VAP



SA203: JNB-DKR

Aircraft: A343E
Registration: ZS-SXA
Seating data: 76D
Boarding gate: A8
Date of departure: December 1, 2004
Time of departure: 19h40
Time of arrival: 02h25+1
Departure runway: 03L, 4,418m (14,494ft), Load: LCN 70, ICAO Cat. 2, Aircraft size max: B747-400, Rwy 03L, ILS
Arrival runway: 18, 3,490m (11,450ft), Rwy 18, ILS CAT III

A quick check through the security point and I was on the airside again, making my way to the SAA Baobab Lounge to grab a luxuriously, long, hot shower, some free sandwiches and snacks, as well as litres of water. I still had a long way to go and had to keep myself hydrated at all costs.

Once again, I browsed through the duty-free shopping and had a chuckle at the inflated prices, with fragrances the only real items being marginally cheaper than you would have paid in South Africa.
Overall, the airside was getting busier by the minute, with the majority of international flights getting ready to depart. Johannesburg Airport being a silent airport, with no boarding announcements or name-calling, I started to walk down to gate A8, where ZS-SXA was waiting with her crew to carry us from JNB-JFK via DKR. Boarding commenced on time and I quickly found my coveted seat, 76D, with no seat situated in front of me and enough legroom fit for a king. I could practically see the envious faces of other passengers, who would have to endure the cramped seats for this jawbreaker of a flight. Luckily, the flight was not fully booked, so passengers had the opportunity to make use of empty rows and spread out.
Flying time from Johannesburg to Dakar-Yoff - Leopol Sedar Senghor International Airport would be approximately 08h50min, with a one-hour fuel stop in Dakar, where after we roughly had another 08h55min to New York JFK Airport. We departed Johannesburg on time and shortly after the seat belt signs were switched off, we had a full bar service and a truly delicious dinner. The cabin crew was truly fantastic and went out of their way to make the flight as enjoyable as possible – being both very friendly and professional.
After dinner service, duty-free sales were offered, where after passengers began settling in for the night, either trying to sleep or making use of their in-flight entertainment. I was in the most relaxed mood, having all the legroom I could possible want, wrapped under my blanket and getting mellow from a sleeping tablet I took earlier on. Meanwhile I was also enjoying the comfortable ride on the A343E, slow climber or not, the cabin humidity was perfect. Off to sleep…….
The seatbelt signs were switched on and the cabin was prepared for landing in Dakar. It was quite clear that almost everybody felt quite groggy about the early morning landing. Touching down in Dakar on time, we taxied to the terminal building. At this stage, the purser made specific announcements about the procedures that all passengers had to follow once we stopped. First, passengers continuing to JFK, had to allow disembarking passengers in Dakar the time and space to get of from the plane, before getting up themselves. After disembarkation of Dakar-passengers, JFK-bound passengers had to collect all our carry-on luggage, return to our originally assigned seats and keep our carry-on luggage with us. Our cabin crew from JNB-DKR would also be leaving the plane, having a stopover in Dakar, while an entire new SAA crew would accompany us to JFK. Shortly thereafter, security personnel came on board to search the entire aircraft – checking every nook and cranny, literally ripping the unoccupied seats apart to check for any hidden devices or left carry-on luggage. Once they were finished, we were allowed to stow our carry-on luggage again and almost immediately thereafter, some joining passengers started to board the flight to JFK.


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Photo © Hannes Meyer
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Photo © French Frogs AirSlides



SA203: DKR-JFK{/b]

[b]Aircraft:
A343E
Registration: ZS-SXA
Seating data: 76D
Date of departure: December 2, 2004
Time of departure: 03h25
Time of arrival: 07h25
Departure runway: 18, 3,490m (11,450ft), Rwy 18, ILS CAT III,
Arrival runway: 31R, 3,077m (10,095ft), Rwy 31R, Lighting: HIRL, CL, MALSR

We departed Dakar at 03h10 and immediately started crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Our new cabin crew offered light snacks, consisting of delicious rolls with Chicken Mayonnaise or Vegetarian fillings, as well as fruit juices.
Some passengers immediately went back to sleep, but I have had my share. For the rest of the flight I watched movies such as the Bourne Supremacy, sitcoms and documentaries. Having a look now and again at the “Flightpath” on the PTV, I could see that we would have an early arrival at JFK at about 06h40.
Breakfast was served and shortly thereafter, the cabin crew started preparing the cabin for landing. We were heading for runway 31R and eventually made a gracious landing on US soil. We had quite a long taxi passing Terminals 7, 6, 5 and 4, docking at Terminal 3. Disembarking, we went down an eerie escalator into the Customs and Immigration Hall, were a particularly unfriendly US Customs agent yelled at everybody who entered her hallowed chamber - so much for a welcome to the USA. Nonetheless, passengers were processed extremely quickly, as South African Airways is the only international flight arriving at T3, that early in the morning.
By 07h30, I had collected my suitcase and handed it in for inter-terminal transfer to Terminal 7 for the final leg of my journey to SFO.


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Photo © Anne Deus



UA7: JFK-SFO

Aircraft: B757
Registration: N544UA
Seating data: 26D
Boarding gate: 7
Date of departure: December 2, 2004
Time of departure: 11h30
Time of arrival: 14h50
Departure runway: 22R, 3,493m (11,459ft), Rwy 22R, Lighting: HIRL, CL
Arrival runway: 28L, 3,231m (10,600ft)

I had a very brisk walk to the Air Train and got off at Terminal 7 for UA7 to SFO. An extremely helpful UA check-in agent printed my boarding pass in minutes and I was on my way to security check, which by the way, went quite smoothly for that time of morning (07h50). Had I known that I would be through Customs at Terminal 3 and checked-in at Terminal 7 for my 11h30 UA-flight, I would have booked an earlier one, but you never know. With time to spare I grabbed some magazines, which I bought in Johannesburg, put on the headphones of my CD Walkman and relaxed at gate 7 until it was time to board.
At about 11h00, we started boarding and to my delight, I was seated alone on my particular side of N544UA. Alas, one of the guys seated in the row in front of me asked if he could have the window seat – how could I refuse? We took of from 22R, like only a 757 can do, about 15 minutes after scheduled departure time. Soon, lunch was served and I continued reading and listening to CD’s. At that stage, I had no idea how long we still had to go before landing in SFO and my back was starting to kill me – it was about the 44th hour out of 47 hours worth of flights and layovers. Looking out of the windows, all I could see was snow and mountains – praying that SFO and the Bay Area would miraculously appear and that we would be able to land. No such luck, however. Eventually the cabin was prepared for landing and the Captain informed us not to be alarmed - there would be a parallel landing with our plane touching down on 28L and another flight landing on 28R. We made a very quick exit onto one of the taxiways, parking at the UA terminal. Proceeding to baggage claims, it was obvious that the UA domestic terminal could do with some refurbishments. Most importantly however, I was safely in SFO after about 47 hours of travelling! I needed my luggage, a taxi and the Orchard Hotel in Powell Street!


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Photo © Matthew Wallman



UA1288: SFO-DEN

Aircraft: B777
Registration: N782UA
Seating data: 33A
Boarding gate: 80
Date of departure: December 7, 2004
Time of departure: 08h00
Time of arrival: 11h30
Departure runway: 01R, 2,713m (8,900ft)
Arrival runway:16L; 3,657.6m (12000ft)

The day has dawned for my first flight on a B777! For years, I have been watching SQ and EK 777’s climb into the air at Johannesburg International Airport, and vowed that one day I would be on one of those birds. Therefore, when I started planning this holiday, United Airlines was the natural choice for my domestic flights, using B777’s on quite a few sectors.

It was a cold wet morning in San Francisco and I took a cab out to San Francisco International Airport, early enough not to get caught up in the morning rush at the security lines. With my luggage checked through to DCA, I did the obligatory belt-and shoes off ritual and passed through security with flying colours. Grabbing a muffin and coffee to go, I headed to gate 80, where a sizeable group of people already were waiting for the first boarding call of UA1288. Having a quick browse through my newspaper, with compliments of the Orchard Hotel, the gate agents started boarding First, Business and Elite passengers. Seated in 33A, it was not very long before I boarded my a 777 for the first time – at last!
The cabin crew went through the usual cabin preparations before take-off, including the safety demonstrations; which once again to my astonishment very few passengers paid attention to. We pushed back from the gate and taxied to runway 01R. It actually took quite a while before we took off, as there was quite a lot of aircraft activity. At 08h15, N782UA's 777 engines revved up and we started charging down the runway, taking off like a bat out of hell. I was sold on this airplane and found the flight, accompanied with live ATC on Channel 9, a total blast! The extremely friendly cabin crew served light refreshments, but I was so engrossed with my new toy being Channel 9, which I politely declined. It was not very long before we were passed on to Denver Approach and Departure Control and the “discussions“ on Channel 9 just got all the more livelier. UA1288 was instructed to make use of runway 16L and in the meantime, the cabin was prepared for landing. Graciously UA1288 touched down on runway 16L, making it’s way to gate B42. My first B777 flight was over, but the next one was just an hour or so away, departing to Chicago O’Hare.


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Photo © Jay Piboontum



[b[UA942: DEN-ORD[/b]

Aircraft: B777
Registration: N782UA
Seating data: 34J
Boarding gate: B42
Date of departure: December 7, 2004
Time of departure: 12h45
Time of arrival: 16h10
Departure runway: 8; 3,657m (12000ft)
Arrival runway: 32L; 3,963m (13,001ft), ICAO Cat. 3A/3B, Unlimited Aircraft size

We were requested to board and as soon as my section was called, I got on. I got seated next to the chatty type of old lady, bless her dear soul, clutching a portrait of her grand children between her knees! I politely listened to her chatting for a while, but popped my headphones on ASAP. For the time being we were staying put at the gate, as the weather in Chicago apparently started acting up. At 13h10, we started our pushback from the gate, taxiing out to runway 8, where we took of at 13h20. The flight was quite uneventful, until we got closer to Chicago, now experiencing some heavy turbulence. According to ATC, UA942 would be landing on runway 32L and the pilot made the necessary adjustment to align N782UA. I could have sworn that we made a turn over Lake Michigan at some stage, but due to dense cloud cover, it was quite difficult to tell. At 16h15, we touched down in pouring rain on runway 32L and taxied to Gate C10. Later on that evening, ship N782UA would make her way as UA942 to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. In the meantime, I was hauling myself over to the B-concourse for my final flight of the day, ORD-DCA.


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Photo © David James Clelford



UA624: ORD-DCA

Aircraft: A319
Registration: N831UA
Seating data: 22A
Boarding gate: B9
Date of departure: December 7, 2004
Time of departure: 18h05
Time of arrival: 21h03
Departure runway: 22L; 2,461m(8075ft)
Arrival runway: 19; 2,094m (6,870ft), Lighting: Standard/Centreline/TDZ

Scheduled to depart on UA624 at 18h05, it was quite apparent when I arrived at Gate B12, which was the original gate for my flight, that there was a major muck-up in the making. Another departing flight’s passengers were still waiting for their flight to arrive, let alone depart. From the terminal flight information monitors, it was quite clear that my flight was still on its way from San Diego and would not be leaving ORD any time soon – with an expected departure time of 20h00. I decided to grab a bite to eat and something to drink; as it would be quite late should I eventually arrive in DC that evening. As usual, time went painstakingly by and I cut my hamburger in bite-size pieces, while slowly sipping on a Millers Light, just to get the time by. Back at Gate 12, I discovered that UA624 would now be departing from Gate 9 – where the gate agent informed us that our incoming flight was circling over Chicago, but were unable to land due to dense cloud-and fog cover. At 20h30 the gate agent announced that they were expecting our flight coming in anytime soon now as it was actually low on fuel. Understandably, people were getting irritable with the delay, but unfortunately it was weather-related and in all fairness, United could do nothing about it. At about 20h50, the San Diego flight arrived at Gate 9 and the passengers disembarked, some scattering in all directions to see whether they could still make connections to their final destinations for the day. At about 21h20, our quite empty flight, pushed back from the gate and taxied towards runway 19, where we immediately started our take-off as soon as we were on the runway. Once through the cloud level, we were flying over the most amazing site ever – the city of Chicago and environs covered with a thick layer of cloud - radiating an intense orange colour through the cloud cover. Above the eerie-like orange cloud cover, one could see many planes with their flickering red lights on their respective flight paths to other destinations.
The flight was quite bumpy from start to finish and listening in on Channel 9, I could here ATC instructing the pilots to use the Potomac River approach. We passed the majestic National Cathedral and the Lincoln- and Washington Memorials came into sight – it would not be long before touchdown. We docked at Gate 29 at 23h40 and I quickly made my way to baggage claims, only to discover that my luggage came in on an earlier DC-flight and was waiting at the United Baggage Counter. Whatever happened to the rule that if the passenger is not on the flight, the bag does not go, is still somewhat of a mystery to me?! However, I was very tired and just wanted to get to my hotel, grab a hot shower and get into a comfortable bed.


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Photo © AirNikon
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Photo © Danny Fritsche



METROLINER 210: WAS-NYP

Date of departure: December 11, 2004
Time of departure: 11h00
Time of arrival: 14h00

The snowstorm the previous year, on December 6, 2003, devastated my DCA-LGA flight plans. On top of that, Delta’s Customer Care Agents just threw their hands in the air, rolling their eyeballs – not giving clear-cut answers. Luckily, an elderly gentleman at Travellers Aid came to my rescue, phoned Amtrak and suggested that I make use of Amtrak to get directly into Manhattan, as the lines were clear.
Since then, it has been the only way I travel between Manhattan and Washington DC. Amtrak takes you from Union station in the middle of DC to the centre of Manhattan in three hours time. I cannot fathom why there are actually people flying between the two cities, as airport waiting times, security lines, the drives to and from the airports and the actual flight takes far more than three hours!?
The First Class cabin of the Metroliner was virtually empty – an oasis compared to most commercial flights. I once again had time and peace to read my book, listen to music on my CD Walkman and just watch the landscape passing by. Just past 14h00, caught in the mayhem on the street level at Pennsylvania Station – I quickly got a cab and directed the lunatic driver behind the steering wheel to my hotel in Times Square. I had some Christmas shopping to do!


SA202: JFK-JNB

Aircraft: A343E
Registration: ZS-SXB
Seating data: 2A
Boarding gate: 5
Date of departure: December 14, 2004
Time of departure: 17h55
Time of arrival: 15h55+1
Departure runway: 31L; 4,480m (14,698ft), Aircraft size max: 747, ILS, Lighting: HIRL, CL, LDIN, VASI (V12)
Arrival runway: 21L, 3,400m (11,154ft), Load: LCN 70, ICAO Cat. 2, Aircraft size max: B747-400, ILS

The last day of my stay in the US dawned, rather prematurely. Postponing checkout until the last minute and eventually leaving my luggage with the concierge, I went off for some last minute shopping on 5th Avenue and Union Square. Alas, time had sneaked up on me and it was time to get out to the airport. The bellhop quickly got me a cab and I was on my way to Terminal 3 at JFK International Airport.
Thanks to a mileage-upgrade, I would be travelling in J-class to Johannesburg. Check-in at the South African Airways J-class counter was a breeze.

With my boarding pass in hand, I made my way to the Air Train to get a ride to the new Terminal 4. Entering Terminal 4, I was truly impressed by the large open public spaces, variety of shopping and restaurants, in contrast with the Delta Terminal (3). I browsed for a while in the terminal and decided to have a drink at one of the restaurants; where I spend a tad too much time if you know what I mean and suddenly realized that boarding time for SA202, back at terminal 3, was not all that far off. I quickly made my way back to Terminal 3, went through security and on to duty-free shopping. Despite the fact that Terminal 3 is quite dilapidated, at least the fragrances offered in duty-free are cheaper than those back in South Africa – I stocked up!
I proceeded to the Business Elite Lounge, where I got a final Jack Daniels and a very comfortable seat. Relaxing for a while with some reading matter, the first boarding call for SA202 were made and I made my way to Gate 5, where for change I got some preferential treatment from the Business Class boarding agent. As always, every passenger on SAA got a warm welcome at the aircraft door - this time, I got a fuzzy feeling, knowing that I was on my way home. The purser showed me to my seat and courteously took my jacket for stowage in the jacket closet. Finally settled in my comfortable seat, a crewmember offered champagne, orange juice or water – this time I opted for the juice.
Being summer back in South Africa, the flight load was very heavy and it took quite a while before all the passengers was boarded. Luckily, departure was on time and we were pushed back from the gate and then taxied to runway 31L, where we didn’t have a long wait before we took off.
Shortly after take-off the seatbelt signs were switched off and the cabin crew immediately went into action, placing table cloths out for those J-class passengers who wished to have dinner. A selection of nuts in small porcelain dishes were offered along with a full bar service. As soon as the drinks were served, the crew proceeded with the serving of starters and took orders for the main course dishes. Every morsel of food was exceptional and the desert out of this world! Before we turned in, we were presented with little individual boxes of chocolates, where after we received our duvets, large pillows and unisex Delsey toiletry bags. With a flatbed seat voted as the best in the airline world, what else could you do other than recline into the 180 degree flatbed position, drifting off into sleep? Despite the glamorous seat, this 15 hour non-stop journey was going to be exhausting. I could only think about those passengers in economy class, where I usually spend my time, and the gruelling trip they had to endure.
The Business Class crew woke us up for breakfast, shortly after we passed into Namibian airspace, and once again, we were presented with tablecloths, a continental breakfast as well as an excellent hot breakfast!
The obligatory South African arrival video was showed and Custom declaration forms handed out for completion. Our individual jackets, taken for storage at JFK airport, were returned to us. Shortly hereafter, the captain made some announcements on the PA system, thanked us for flying with SAA and told the cabin crew that they had about 20 minutes to prepare the cabin for landing. Time sped by and quite soon; we touched down on runway 21L, prior to the scheduled arrival time. As usual, landing on runway 21L or 03R, we had quite a long taxi to the terminal building. Docking at Gate A2, the seatbelt signs were switched off and we were allowed to disembark. Customs went quite quickly, unfortunately the same could not be said for baggage services – it always takes at least 30 minutes for your suitcases to appear on the conveyer belts. Passing through the declaration channels, I entered the arrivals hall in order to recheck my suitcase for my domestic flight back to Bloemfontein – just in order to be informed that my onward flight had been cancelled and that SA Express Airways had rebooked me on the 08h00 flight the next morning. At this stage, I was less than impressed, but at least were offered complimentary accommodation in the Airport Sun Intercontinental, just across from the main terminal.
With a fair view over both runways 03R and 03L, I spend some time lying on the King-size bed spotting aircraft movements. Ironically, for me anyway, Qantas was taxiing towards 03L for her departure to Sydney – wait for me!!


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Photo © Phil Derner Jr.
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Photo © M.Oertle



SA1003 (Operated by SA Express Airways): JNB-BFN

Aircraft: DH8
Registration: ZS-NLX
Seating data: IC
Boarding gate: E11
Date of departure: December 16, 2004
Time of departure: 08h00
Time of arrival: 09h15
Departure runway: 03L; 4,418m (14,494ft), Load: LCN 70, ICAO Cat. 2, Aircraft size max: B747-400, Rwy 03L, ILS,
Arrival runway: 20, 2,559m (8,395ft), 44/F/A/X/U, No ILS

After a good nights rest, I made my way to the Domestic Terminal to check-in for my flight to Bloemfontein. Check-in went smoothly and I immediately walked to the security checkpoints, in order to get to the airside. Once checked, I walked over to the SAA Baobab Lounge where there were excellent views over runway 03L, and to some extent 03R. Spotting planes, I got up as soon as boarding of flight SA1003 to Bloemfontein was called and continued to the lower level of the terminal were Gate E11 was located. As usual, passengers going out to the remote stands on the C-apron, are left standing on the bus until all passengers have beed checked through the boarding gate. At last we were transported out to ZS-NLX, which would be flying us down to Bloemfontein. Being a public holiday, December 16, the flight was not all that full. With all formalities completed, the pilot started up the engines of the DH8 and we taxied to runway 03L. We soon took off to the North and then turned out over Sandton and Parktown, far below. Still quite tired from the long flight the previous day, I fell asleep and woke up when we touched down in a very hot and sunny Bloemfontein - Home sweet Home.


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Photo © Julian Whitelaw




When you are doing stuff that nobody has done before, there is no manual – Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs)
10 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineZRHnerd From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 4722 times:

excellent report(s). Just one thing which confused me: Why did you fly back from SYD to JNB and then all the way to the west to SFO instead of just flying a transpacific? I'm pretty sure that that would have been much faster.

[Edited 2005-07-12 01:12:59]

User currently offlineSA7700 From South Africa, joined Dec 2003, 3431 posts, RR: 26
Reply 2, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 4515 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting ZRHnerd (Reply 1):
Why did you fly back from SYD to JNB and then all the way to the west to SFO instead of just flying a transpacific? I'm pretty sure that that would have been much faster.

Hey there ZRHnerd, only one explanation - I love flying! Who am I kidding, I'm a total mileage whore. I could have accumulated miles on QF flying SYD-LAX, but it wouldn't have counted towards my tier-levels and the sum-total of accumulated miles wouldn't have been that handsome.  Smile

I'm doing a "similar" trip during this coming November / December, but I'm adding MEL to it.


Rgds

SA7700



When you are doing stuff that nobody has done before, there is no manual – Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs)
User currently offlineZRHnerd From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 4499 times:

Oh alright hehe Big grin

Can't wait for the report of your upcoming trip bouncy 


User currently offlineSA7700 From South Africa, joined Dec 2003, 3431 posts, RR: 26
Reply 4, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4279 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting ZRHnerd (Reply 3):
Can't wait for the report of your upcoming trip

It took me a long time to compile and finish this one. I will try to get the next one on as soon as I'm back in December. Big grin


Rgds

SA7700



When you are doing stuff that nobody has done before, there is no manual – Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs)
User currently offlineAirnewzealand From New Zealand, joined Oct 2000, 2542 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 4181 times:

Hello SA7700,

I was onboard your flight going back to JNB. How funny, it was my first flight to South Africa as Operating Crew, and i loved every bit of it! What a country you have.

I was serving E/D Zone.

cheers


User currently offlineSA7700 From South Africa, joined Dec 2003, 3431 posts, RR: 26
Reply 6, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 4097 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting Airnewzealand (Reply 5):
I was onboard your flight going back to JNB. How funny, it was my first flight to South Africa as Operating Crew, and i loved every bit of it! What a country you have.

Now that is what I call coincidence, actually I can't believe it! Once again thanks so much for your specific crew's great service, I truly appreciate it!

Glad you enjoyed South Africa, and yes, we have a marvelous country!

Where or what is the E/D zone?


Rgds

SA7700



When you are doing stuff that nobody has done before, there is no manual – Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs)
User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9595 posts, RR: 52
Reply 7, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 3942 times:

Wow that is an impressive trip. I don't think my body could handle it though. The insane time zone changes and long grueling hours of dead time. But it sounds exciting and thanks for sharing it with us.


If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20506 posts, RR: 62
Reply 8, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3804 times:

Excellent report, thanks for taking the time to write it up.  Smile

Quoting SA7700 (Thread starter):
I cannot fathom why there are actually people flying between the two cities, as airport waiting times, security lines, the drives to and from the airports and the actual flight takes far more than three hours!?

A couple of years ago I asked a friend who lives back east why she flew the shuttles instead of driving or taking the train, and her one word answer was: Acela. Apparently, not everyone is as impressed with Amtrak.

Living on the west coast it's just natural to fly between most cities as distances are much further, and it does indeed seem silly sometimes not to take the train when in the east, but there you are.



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineAirnewzealand From New Zealand, joined Oct 2000, 2542 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3682 times:

Hey There SA,

I can actually remember that flight like it was yesterday, All of the crew were in very high spirits as we were going on Safari...hehe...

E/D Zone are the specific zones in the aircraft. If we refer to a call light it will say E Zone LHS (Left Hand side).
E Zone is the Last section of the aircraft in Y/C. D Zone is where you were sitting, from the Doors three toilet to The Galley at Doors 4 is known as D Zone.

Hope that explains it.

Cheers
AirNewZealand.


User currently offlineSA7700 From South Africa, joined Dec 2003, 3431 posts, RR: 26
Reply 10, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 3662 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Hey Airnewzealand

Thanks for the explanation. Hope to see you onboard again with your friendly crew! Going downunder in November!!


Rgds

SA7700



When you are doing stuff that nobody has done before, there is no manual – Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs)
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