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Delta FF ticket: Switch b-class legs and add Arusha day?

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Jan 9th, 2006, 11:40 AM
  #1
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Delta FF ticket: Switch b-class legs and add Arusha day?

My wife and I are making our first trip to Uganda and Kenya in August. We redeemed Skymiles for business class seats from ATL - JFK - AMS - EBB for the flight out. We're spending a week in Uganda followed by 5 nights in Kenya (1 Nakuru, 4 Mara). For the return flight, I managed to secure business class seats on the direct AMS - ATL flight on Sept 4. The problem was that there were no FF tickets on KLM available out of NBO, so I had to settle for coach seats flying JRO - DAR - AMS on an overnight flight, and we're stuck buying our own NBO - JRO tickets for about $170 each.

Following advice from Patty, I've been checking periodically for any seats to become available out of NBO or for business seats to open up on our JRO - DAR - AMS leg. So far, no luck on either account, but I did find business seats out of JRO for the following day. The down side is that adding the extra day we'd need to book new AMS-ATL flight, and the business seats for that day are Skychoice. We would thus be stuck in coach (unless DL was really nice about switch) for that leg and we'd be out $50 each for changing our tickets. The advantage would be possibly a better night's sleep in business class and the chance to do a day trip out of Arusha (fly from NBO night before, O/N Arusha, day trip and fly out late that night). Here are my questions:

1. Am I much better off being in business for the overnight flight than for the trans-atlantic, or is it an equal trade?

2. Are the day trip options out of Arusha interesting enough to justify the added cost?

3. Could we offset some of the cost by driving from Mara to Tanzania, or would the financial damage be similar with a greater toll on our rumps?

Thanks for your advice.

-Matt
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Jan 9th, 2006, 03:49 PM
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Patty-

Not sure if you saw this but I thought you would know better than most if DL would ever allow me to switch my AMS-ATL flight 1 day later even though I booked w/ SkySaver and the new flight would be Skychoice. How unlikely do you think that would be?

-Matt
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Jan 9th, 2006, 04:38 PM
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Matt,
Have you checked all other options from AMS-ATL on Sep 5(?) on Delta or partner carriers even if it involves less direct routing?

You could also waitlist for business class on any Delta operated flight, up to 4 flights per itinerary I believe. So you could confirm coach AMS-ATL right now and waitlist business for the same flight plus also waitlist AMS-JFK, AMS-CVG or even CDG-ATL (and add AMS-CDG later) and see if any of them become available closer to departure. No guarantees that any of your waitlists will clear (I'd ask the agent what the current waitlist is like for those flights and perhaps choose the flights with the least number of other passengers waitlisted) but it's worth a try if you decide to change your dates. The one possible snag is that if you waitlist a less direct routing and the domestic segments (i.e. JFK-ATL or CVG-ATL) are currently available in first class, you wouldn't be able to confirm them at this time because you can't hold confirmed seats on multiple flights (I don't think). Nor would you be able to waitlist them since technically they're available. So you could end up with coach or no seats for the domestic segment at the time your waitlisted intl segment clears. Similar scenario if you end up clearing CDG-ATL and need to add the intra-European AMS-CDG segment on KLM or Air France (except there's no waitlisting possible on a partner flight). Despite this, I think it's still worth a try. You'll receive a call if one of your waitlists clears (they won't change your flights without your OK) so you have nothing to lose.

On to your questions specifically -

1. It's a toss up here. I think JRO-AMS is slightly longer. Generally I'd say business class on an overnight flight is even more preferable than on a day time flight, but I also don't like downgrading from business to coach on the second flight as I'd be more tired by then. OTOH you might have a chance of clearing into business on the second flight.

2. What are you thinking of in terms of day trips? Cultural, a visit to Arusha NP or something else? The only suggestion I can make from first hand experience is a visit to Makoa Farm where you can go horseback riding for the day and have lunch/dinner on the farm. For a day ride, it would be conducted on the farm (so not really game viewing) but you do see monkeys and birds and possibly other small animals - www.makoa-farm.com if you think you might be interested. Eben, sandi, bat or Leely would probably be able to give you more/better ideas.

3. Are you currently driving or flying from the Mara back to Nairobi? If you get back to Nairobi from the Mara early enough, you could take the 2:00pm shuttle to Arusha (instead of flying NBO-JRO). I believe this takes about 5 hours with an immigration stop at the Namanga border and costs around $30. I think Leely has taken it before. A private vehicle transfer between Nairobi and Arusha wouldn't save you much money, and I don't think the minimal savings (if any) would be worth the time spent.

Hope this helps.
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Jan 9th, 2006, 04:54 PM
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<Not sure if you saw this but I thought you would know better than most if DL would ever allow me to switch my AMS-ATL flight 1 day later even though I booked w/ SkySaver and the new flight would be Skychoice. How unlikely do you think that would be?>

If there are only Skychoice seats currently for that day, your only option is waitlisting. They won't convert the Skychoice seats into a Skysaver seats just because you're currently holding Skysaver seats for the previous day. Was that your question?

If you changed your flights, would you be flying JRO-AMS on Sep 4 arriving AMS early morning on Sep 5? I have one more idea - have you checked flight options for AMS-ATL on Sep 6? If you can find available business class seats on Sep 6, you could make an argument for the extended connection in AMS even though you're already flying open jaw using the next available flight (in your class of service) exception (normally you're only allowed connections of up to 12 hours on an intl award itinerary). This has worked for me on occasions when I couldn't get a same day connection in business and I already had an open jaw or stopover elsewhere on my itinerary. If you get an uncooperative agent the first try, politely end the call and try again. I've found that some agents can be resistant (they either don't want to go through the trouble of getting it approved or don't know it's an option).
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Jan 9th, 2006, 04:57 PM
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Of course, that last option would incur additional expenses of overnighting in AMS but just thought I'd throw it out there. At least you're not traveling in winter which would further complicate packing

Did you end up getting a GPS for Christmas?
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Jan 10th, 2006, 09:17 AM
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Patty-

Thanks for the suggestions. After my last post I remembered that you were able to finagle both an open jaw and AMS O/N with that business exception, so I'll look into that. We're driving back from Mara but I bet we could make that 2:00 shuttle - definitely cheaper than flying and something to consider.

For the day trip I would probably do something around Arusha NP. Maybe the canoeing that Sandi has mentioned in a few posts. Another thing I read about was a camel ride from a local Masai community (Mkuru?). I had been feeling sorry about not seeing Kilimanjaro so I am excited about the prospect (but I guess it could be too cloudy anyway).

It looks like there is a skysaver AMS-LGA-ATL on Sept 6, so I'll see how my wife feels about the extra time. Thanks again.

-Matt

PS: I got the Garmin GPSMap 60C as a gift, so I'm trying to figure that out.
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Jan 10th, 2006, 09:43 AM
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If you're driving back from the Mara, just be aware if you go with the shuttle option that will be a very long day on the road (over 10 hours total). I think you're also doing some long drives in Uganda right? The NBO-JRO flight might be a nice splurge at that point in your trip. Or you could take the 11:00am flight from the Mara back to Nairobi and take the shuttle to Arusha. We paid $111 for that flight in November. We originally planned to drive back but decided it was just one drive too many after spending 2 weeks on the road.

Good luck with your flights!
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Jan 10th, 2006, 09:49 AM
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Matt,
bat will be leaving Feb. 1 for her trip to Tanzania. Her party is planning on doing the canoe trip in Arusha NP, so when she reports back you will still have plenty of time to decide. I'm waiting to hear about it as well...

Also, if you do end up taking the shuttle bus from Nairobi to Arusha, you may be lucky enough to see Kili. We were, although we would have missed it (looking the other way) if a gentleman hadn't tapped us and said, "The roof of Africa."

I do think driving from the Mara to Nairobi and then to Arusha would be a LOT of driving in one day, though.
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Jan 10th, 2006, 11:54 AM
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Matt:
Look for a report on the Arusha canoeing at the end of Feb. I booked directly wih Green Footprints.
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Jan 12th, 2006, 04:11 AM
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bat-

I look forward to reading about your trip. I was wondering what the cost of the canoeing was and if they can pick you up from your Arusha area lodge. Thanks.

-Matt
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Jan 12th, 2006, 08:40 AM
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Matt:
They are picking us up at our lodge. The canoeing is part of a full day trip--We are paying $120 for the vehicle/guide, plus $25 park fee pp, plus $20 canoeing fee pp, plus $32 for the actual canoeing pp. (so our party of 3 is paying $120+$75+$60+$96=$351 for a full day including pick up and return, game driving and canoeing. We bring our own picnic lunches). We were told that it is possible that the Arusha Park fee could go up to $35 pp.

I tried pricing the canoeing alone because we were not sure we wanted to devote a full day to the Park but it does not make sense to do that because you have to traverse part of the park to get to the canoeing location, you have to pay the Arusha NP general park entrance fee anyway, and you have to pay for transportation to and from your lodge. The cost of getting to and from the canoeing location was going to cost the same as game driving [perhaps there is a way to do it less expensively but I could not find it]. You might as well see other parts of the park and do some game driving.

You can book the day trip with Green Footprints or, as I understand it, book the day trip with some other provider and ask them to book the canoeing as part of your day trip with them. They will turn you over to the Green Footprints folks in the park for that segment.
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Jan 13th, 2006, 10:13 AM
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bat-

Thanks for the information. I see your point about staying for the entire day, especially since the park fees are slated to be $35 pp when we would be there. I got a price quote from Green Footprint without any transportation, and they now charge $40 for the canoeing. So it would be 35+20+40 = $95 per person if you could magically teleport to the edge of the lake.

I think I'll wait to hear how you find the experience. The opportunity to switch the tickets around may be gone, but right now the cost of changing tickets, getting lodging and transportation, and doing the canoes is too much without a first-hand recommendation. Thanks again.

-Matt
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Jan 14th, 2006, 09:44 AM
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Matt:
I noticed with interest some comments that aby made about Arusha NP.

"The magnificent forest mainly around Ngurdoto caldera ("mini ngorongoro")
with the best observations of forest monkeys both Colobus & Blue + easy duiker spotting & foest birds (maybe more appealing to the more experienced, not first timer)
The view points with different colour lakes + flamingoes & Mt. Meru in the backgroung makes it a first class scenary. (must admit flamingoes r seasonal & unpredictable)
+ an opportunity go to up on Mt. Meru with your 4X4 easily reaching the higher vegetation belts
+ short nice walk to the falls, outside the gate, meeting some beatiful examples of Strangling Fig. etc"

It has 3 distinct areaas to it--Mt. Meru, the crater, and the lakes--so perhaps a worthy destination in itself.
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Jan 14th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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p.s. thanks for the description aby.
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