Air Travel to Africa

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Jan 20th, 2006, 04:56 AM
  #1
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Air Travel to Africa

I am planning travel to Tanzania late May of 2006 and several questions have come up.

The best airline/route for me seems to be NWA from the US to Amsterdam then KLM to Tanzania. When do I book? I'm concerned that the airlines will change their schedules in April leaving me without connecting flights. But, if I wait too long, I'm concerned about higher fares. Any suggestions?

Luggage is also a concern. I have no in-country flights within Tanzania. But, I'm reading things about European flights having different baggage rules than US carriers. I want to take only 2 carry-on bags. One, a duffel that would fit in an overhead. The second, a large camera bag which should fit under the seat. This is usually not a problem in the US. Will it be a problem on this trip? Any suggestions on how to make this work?

Thanks for your help.
peter
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Jan 20th, 2006, 05:57 AM
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Re: the luggage, we had the same plan - didn't fly KLM though.

For two of us we had two small (15 lbs) duffels, one camera bag (25 lbs), and one small backpack. Carryon worked fine from US to London to Nairobi on American and British Air (coach the whole way).

On the return, we checked the two duffels (all the way through to the US even through we were on three different airlines) in Kilimanjaro. It was all dirty clothes so we didn't care if it got lost. So we just had the camera bag, backpack, an a small shopping bag of souvenirs.

British Air in Nairobi was quite strict about ONE BAG PER PERSON, and about half the people in line had to check bags at the gate. They did allow a "small personal item" (like the shopping bag we had).

Good luck!
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Jan 20th, 2006, 07:35 AM
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Here are the baggage allowances for KLM - http://www.klm.com/travel/nl_en/trav...ance/index.htm

It sounds like you should be OK with a carry-on plus camera bag. Just make sure your duffle is within their size/weight limits.

It's not too early to start checking fares now (and book if you find a good fare) on this route as KLM is the ONLY carrier flying into JRO, assuming that's the airport you're trying to fly into.

I'm not sure which flight(s) you're concerned about as far as changing schedules, your domestic to US gateway segment or something else? Where are you flying from BTW? The flight schedule for AMS-JRO-AMS is very unlikely to change. In case any flight schedule changes result in a too short or too long connection (sometimes they don't automatically re-book you on the most convenient connections), you can always look up the new flight schedule yourself and if you find a better alternative, you can contact NW and ask them to re-book you on that flight as long as there's availablity. You must do this when they first notify you of the schedule change. Once you've accepted the schedule change, you can't make further changes without incurring a penalty (unless of course NW's changes the schedule again).
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Jan 20th, 2006, 07:50 AM
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Sorry, what I should've said is KLM is the only carrier flying directly into JRO from Europe. You can also get there via Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and a few other places on other carriers.

BTW I just did a quick check of fares for hypothetical dates in May from JFK and they were pricing around $1300. This would be an example of a very good fare to JRO that I wouldn't hestitate to book.

Also I'd print out a copy of the baggage allowance from the KLM website and bring it with you in case you run into any issues at the airport.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 08:49 AM
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peter,
re: pricing to jro via europe (ams). I am still getting my orbitz "updates" even though I bought my tix for june a few months ago. I haven't really seen anything for significantly less than we paid, $2300 from SFO--maybe about $100 or so less occasionally, usually with one more stop somewhere.

So, if you see a good price, I'd snap it up.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 02:56 PM
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The fare can only go up. If you are getting a JFK/AMS/JRO return flight at $1,300 grab it.

While there have been some schedule changes over the years - season-to-season - it's never more than 15-minutes one way or another. There is still more than sufficient time for the connection coming from JFK to AMS to JRO.

On the return - JRO/AMS/JFK however, there is a very long layover for that JFK connection - has been as short as 5-hrs as long as 8-hrs. You may want to consider returning into Newark EWR, especially if NY is your final destination. Believe it's 3-hrs or less between flights and if for some reason you miss, I believe there's another flight into EWR and then the JRK flight. Check it out.

 
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Jan 20th, 2006, 03:07 PM
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Sorry, didn't mean to confuse things. I was the one that posted the JFK-JRO fare. I just arbitrarily picked JFK and some random dates to search simply as an example. I have no idea where the OP is flying from or the exact dates in May.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 05:47 PM
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When flying through AMS to JRO on KLM, one of our group was told that his duffel bag wasn't the correct size for a carry-on (small duffel, but square...thicker than 9"). The gate personnel took it and checked it through. When the bag arrived in JRO, a large package of batteries had been removed, obviously in AMS, as we could see the bags unloaded from the containers at JRO. We had to scramble around Arusha to replace them for our traveler's digital camera. On the return trip, hiking boots and other items were taken from another checked duffel.

If you try to carry on your duffel, make sure it's no larger than KLM's guidelines. Even so, they may consider your camera bag the "carry-on" and take the duffel. Be prepared for this and lock your bag up before you give it to them, as the pilfering at AMS is awful!
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Jan 20th, 2006, 06:01 PM
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What you are proposing to take sounds very mich like what we took on our recent trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. We were on everything from a 757 to a light aircraft that sat 6 people. We both had "backpacks" without internal frames (Europe Through the Back Door bags I got years ago) that fit in the overhead compartment and then a tote that would be about the size of a camera bag. The only place we had to check the larger bags was on Air Botswana going from Maun to Jo'burg. That was annoying since we had to go collect our bags and clear customs in Jo'burg, but it worked pretty well. And we were on our way home at that point.
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