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Feedback on Kenya accomodations with a little bit of Tanzania - long post!

Feedback on Kenya accomodations with a little bit of Tanzania - long post!

Aug 16th, 2005, 09:58 AM
  #41  
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bat,
I believe KLM still assigns seats at 90 days prior to departure. I plan to call later this week for my outbound flights and call back next month for my return. My husband and I are also on 2 different record locators as we had to ticket out of separate Skymiles accounts. That shouldn't be a problem as you should be able to just give KLM your flight number and passenger names. I'll let you know for sure later. This was the procedure last year.

Are you flying to/from JRO?
Patty is online now  
Aug 16th, 2005, 10:21 AM
  #42  
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Thanks Patty, I feel reassured. So we have to make two calls--one for the in-bound and one for the out-bound. We are flying into JRO and out of Dar (thanks to your earlier advice that we did not need to return to Arusha from Zanzibar).
bat is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 03:44 PM
  #43  
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Yep, it's still 90 days. I just got my seat assignments for the ATL-AMS flight on Nov 14. I have to wait until tomorrow for our AMS-NBO flight. I spoke with NW/KL international reservations. They can look up your reservation by date/flight/name. Once they locate it, ask them to give you your NW/KL record locators (they're different than the DL locators). Then you can just give them those when you call back.

I believe the AMS-JRO/DAR flight is still operated on the MD-11. Here's the seat map -

http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/KLM/KLM_MD-11.php
Patty is online now  
Aug 17th, 2005, 01:21 PM
  #44  
bat
 
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Thanks Patty--that was very thoughtful of you to post the seating map (and I wondered which plane it would be).
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Sep 13th, 2005, 06:08 PM
  #45  
 
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Patty-

My wife and I have been hoarding skymiles for two years to get business tickets to Africa. We're would like a little over two weeks between mid-Aug and early September but are flexible on exact dates. I've already learned quite a bit from your posts but I'm still a bit intimidated by the prospect of getting those tickets. Would you mind indulging a newbie with some advice on the ins and outs of FF tickets to Africa?

1. Since you can only book 331 days out, do you wait to inquire until that many days prior to the return flight, or is it possible to lay claim to a particular outbound flight earlier?

2. In the spring I got a Skymiles ticket from Atlanta to Juneau via their new relationship with AK Airlines, but it involved a long time with the reservations agent. Is that just b/c the route was new, or should I plan on spending 45 min plus on the phone? Any general tips on how to handle that call?

3. What's this NW Japan site you mentioned, and what other sites would you recommend to figure out flight itineraries?

I would really appreciate any advice and I apologize in advance if these questions are naive. I've done a little research on the FF topic but I know I could be better informed. Thanks.

-Matt
99mkw is offline  
Sep 13th, 2005, 08:35 PM
  #46  
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Matt,
I'd be glad to try to help in any way I can. Which country in Africa is your intended destination? How many Skymiles do you currently have? If you can answer those questions, I may be able to provide more specific advice.

1. It's possible to put an award reservation on hold for 14 days. If your itinerary is 2 weeks or less, you can call for your outbound seats, put them on hold, and call back later to try to secure your return seats. You don't have to wait until your return dates fall within the 331 day period. If your trip is over 2 weeks, you may be able to get another extension after your initial 14 day hold. I say 'may' because that used to be the policy (granting the extension) but recently I've been hearing that Delta is tightening up on award holds, so I would check with Delta directly. I haven't needed an extension beyond 14 days recently so haven't had the opportunity to test it out.

Also 331 days is just the first day you can call, that doesn't necessarily mean that all possible award seats are loaded at that time. Award inventory changes constantly up until the day of flight departure. That said, it's always a good idea to start checking for award seats as early as possible if you have firm plans. I've actually never tried calling at the 331 day mark. I normally book my awards 3-6 months in advance. So if at first you don't find anything available, keep trying, it's not hopeless.

2. When you call Delta, speak with the Partner Award desk. These agents are most knowledgeable on partner carriers and routing possibilities and can check award seat availability on Delta and all Delta partners. It still may involve a long time on the phone since there are many different carriers and routing options to check.

3. Unfortunately the Delta website only checks for award availability on Delta operated and not partner operated flights, so I use a Northwest site to gather the information I need.

I prefer their Japan based site because I find its award search capability more user friendly. In my opinion, the award search functionality of the US based NW site just isn't as good even though they're both supposed to access the same inventory.

Here's the link to the NW Japan site -

http://book3.nwa.com/jp/booking/asp/...S=YES&TYPE=NEW

Click on 'English' in the upper right corner if you see Japanese characters. At the bottom there's a pull down box to select Standard (for Northwest/KLM), Air France, Delta, Continental, etc. depending on which carrier you want to check for seat availability. Do not choose Rulebuster as you don't have that option available to you when redeeming Skymiles. The rest should be mostly self-explanatory, but if you have any questions, please ask.

If seats are available, the flight choice(s) will display on the following page along with a list of classes of service (economy, business, etc.). A circle next to a particular class of service indicates that there are award seats available in that class of service.

While the actual purpose of the site is for the redemption of NW Worldperks miles, I've found that with very minor exception it's the same inventory that you would have access to if using Delta Skymiles.

I also check segment by segment to piece an itinerary together. None of these award booking engines are very good at producing results if you input a complex itinerary. So for instance, I would check LAX-AMS, AMS-NBO, etc. each as a separate search. Once I find availability on all of the segments I need, I call the Delta Partner award desk to reserve my seats. You cannot reserve online.

A few other pointers -

With a Delta/Multi Airline award you can mix and match any combination of Skyteam carriers (Delta, Air France, KLM, Continental, Northwest, Czech, etc.) My current itinerary using a 120K mile award looks like this -

Delta LAX-ATL
KLM ATL-AMS-NBO/JRO-AMS
Air France AMS-CDG-LAX

If you're planning to use a non-Skyteam partner airline award such as a South African Airways award, then you're limited to combining 2 airlines at most (SAA plus a Delta connection to the gateway city, if necessary). I don't know where to look for SAA award availability online. BTW SAA is supposed to be joining Sky Alliance soon, so may end their relationship with Delta.

Familiarize yourself with all of the available carrier and routing options for your origin/destination.

You're able to waitlist (for a different flight or different class of service) Delta operated flights, but you cannot waitlist partner operated flights, so you'll have to check/call back periodically.

You're allowed one stopover or one open jaw on an award itinerary, but not technically both. A stopover is defined as a connection of 12 hours or longer on an international award itinerary. If there are no award seats in your class of service, they may allow a connection of longer than 12 hours (in addition to one included stopover or open jaw) based on the 'first available flight' exception. Some agents may not automatically offer you this option, so you have to ask.

You're not facing an easy task. August/September is high season for transatlantic flights, so if you're routing through Europe, you're competing with lots of other passengers trying to redeem awards to Europe. August/September is also high season for East Africa destinations. I'm not sure about Southern Africa.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Best of luck!
Patty is online now  
Sep 14th, 2005, 09:20 AM
  #47  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Patty-

Thanks so much for all the information. I feel much more prepared to attack the situation now. In answer to your question about where in Africa and how many miles, I would say my first choice is Kenya in hopes of catching the migration, and we also wanted to try see some primates. I was thinking of trying to fly into Entebbe, see Chimps in Kibale and swing through Queen Elizabeth on the way to gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Bwindi, or both. Then we'd fly from Kigali to NBO and spend a week or so in Kenya. I definitely want 3+ days in the Mara but I haven't settled on where else would be a must see. Then we'd fly home out of NBO.

Having said that, we are pretty flexible. If East Africa is impossible that time of year, I would opt instead for a mobile safari in Botswana, perhaps looking for an open jaw to spend a day or two in Capetown. I can't tell from the SAA website if they are officially in Star Alliance now or not, but I know that their previous arrangement with Delta expired at the end of '04, so they must have renewed something. I'm hoping that, in the words of someone on flyertalk, SAA can continue to "sleep around."

I currently have just over 130,000 miles and my wife has just over 137,000. Hopefully Delta's continued financial troubles will not render this all moot. Thanks again for all of your help and I would definitely appreciate any other advice you may have to offer.

-Matt
99mkw is offline  
Sep 14th, 2005, 12:47 PM
  #48  
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For East Africa you're pretty much limited to KLM into Nairobi or Entebbe on a single award for 120K miles. If you can't get seats out of NBO, try JRO (Kilimanjaro) as an alternate. You'll need to purchase your own ticket NBO-JRO.

Flying into South Africa opens up more choices. SAA, KLM, Air France are all possibilities at the 120K level. AF also has a first class option for 160K. I believe the SAA award includes a connection to other southern Africa countries as well.

You can also redeem a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class award to South Africa but the cost is 180K.

Other options using multiple awards at higher mileage levels (if you're able to accumulate more between now and when you redeem) -

SAA to East Africa via Johannesburg - 120K + 50K

Delta/SAA to South Africa via Sao Paulo - 90K + 80K

Delta/Malaysia to South Africa via Buenos Aires - 90K + 100K

Emirates to East or South Africa via Dubai - 120K + 95K or 145K

This last combination might be really stretching it value wise considering the flight from Dubai to Nairobi is only something like 5 hours(?). I'd probably consider the Emirates award in combination with a purchased DXB-NBO economy class ticket.

There's also a first class award on Emirates to Dubai for 160K. Have you read the article in the September issue of Conde Nast Traveler? Private sleeping pods in FC on the JFK-DXB A340-500. I may have to save up my miles for this award next, though I'd hate to get used to flying this way

Those are the award possibilities that I can think of. I may have missed a few. Some of the latter combinations might make for interesting stopovers.

FT has a wealth of info as well. Good luck!
Patty is online now  
Sep 14th, 2005, 12:53 PM
  #49  
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Keep an eye out for Kenya Airways as well. They're supposed to be joining Skyteam as an associate member. I have no idea if and when that will translate into redemption for Skymiles members, but I'll be watching for any news.
Patty is online now  
Sep 15th, 2005, 07:26 PM
  #50  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
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My wife and I are also planning a trip to Kenya/Tanzania suing Skymiles. She had one itenarary on hold that was 80K Skymiles each using Amsterdam as the free sopover and flying into Nairobi. Currently we are looking at using the Round-the-world award (120K each) Lisbon-Amersterdam-(in to Nairobi)-(out of Dar Es Salaam)-Amsterdam-Bangkok.
kingfish254 is offline  
Sep 19th, 2005, 02:57 PM
  #51  
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kingfish,
I've never used Skymiles for a RTW award, so I have a question for you. I've always assumed that the no backtracking rule would make the AMS-NBO/DAR-AMS impossible to include on a RTW itinerary as you would be traveling west-east/east-west. Is this not the case? I have to admit I haven't really done much research on allowable RTW award itineraries.

Also I believe it's 140K in economy, is it not?
Patty is online now  
Sep 29th, 2005, 10:02 AM
  #52  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 121
Patty-

Sorry to resurrect this thread but I had few more questions. Your tips on searching for award tickets were extremely helpful and I found a few options for flights to East Africa from AMS. In particular there was a direct flight into EBB around the time that we wanted to go. Since this flight is only three days a week, I'd like to grab it.

The problem is that there seem to be no award tickets for flights from East Africa back to AMS or LHR. I've even backed up several weeks prior to my departure and I've found nothing, which makes me think that returns aren't going to just pop up in the next week or two. Is it possible to book the outbound flight only and then pay a fee to add the return flight when it becomes available? I would rather not pay the extra money but I'd feel much worse if those outbound seats had vanished by the time the return seats came around.

On an unrelated note, I appreciated the link (www.porini.com) that you gave to lyban regarding Mara flying safaris. It gave me a much better sense of the step-ups in price for the various camps. The prices struck me as lower than some I had seen on lodge websites (especially Mara Intrepids), so I was wondering how realistic they were. In booking Kicheche and Ilkeliani for your trip, were you able to negotiate pretty close to those rates? Thanks again for all of your help and advice.

-Matt
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Sep 29th, 2005, 11:48 AM
  #53  
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Matt,
I'm not sure about ticketing just a one way. I've never tried doing that. I'd ask the partner award agents if you'd have any problems converting a ticketed one way award to a roundtrip later.

Do you have your outbound on hold right now? I'd keep checking during the hold period and try asking for additional extensions on your hold. Hope for a sympathetic agent

The other way is to ticket your reservation with any return date that's available for right now (if there are any) and pay a change fee later. The award change fee is $50 per ticket.

Sorry I don't have any better suggestions. It's not easy to find award seats on KL in high season. Don't give up yet though. Good luck!

To address the second part of your post, I've never booked through Gamewatchers Safaris but they seem to be a reputable operator, so I don't think they would post prices that they weren't able to offer. It's very possible that a tour operator may be able to offer rates lower than what's posted on a lodge or camp's own website. And not every tour operator will offer the same rates for any given camp.

Are you looking at the flying package rates for Kicheche and Ilkeliani? It's a bit hard for me to compare my rates as we're doing an all drive safari and utilizing our tour operator's vehicle and guide for our game drives and those rates listed are for flying packages with game activities provided by the camps. Both Ilkeliani and Kicheche list flying packages rates on their own websites if you want to look at those for comparison. I don't know if this answers your question. I've asked my tour operator for a cost breakdown and can post what each night at Kicheche and Ilkeliani is costing us when I get those figures.
Patty is online now  
Oct 9th, 2005, 03:59 PM
  #54  
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Let's try this again and see if it will post this time...

Here's the final tweak to our itinerary. After we were able to change our air reservations to fly in a day earlier, we decided to spend our first two nights at El Karama Ranch in Laikipia. I became interested in the place after coming across these pics -

http://www.jameswarwick.co.uk/elkarama/

Of course, MY photos will look nothing like that

I'm looking forward to the variety of activities available on the ranch (day and night game drives, safari walks, horse riding, etc.) and most of all, the privacy.

So our final, final (really ) itinerary is as follows -

Nov 14 - depart LAX at 9:40am for NBO (via ATL/AMS)
Nov 15 - arrive NBO at 8:25pm, transfer to Hilton
Nov 16/17 - El Karama Ranch/Laikipia
Nov 18/19 - Olea Africana Lodge/Mweiga
Nov 20 - Mbweha Camp/Lake Nakuru
Nov 21/22 - Samatian Island Lodge/Lake Baringo
Nov 23/24 - Malu/Lake Naivasha
Nov 25/26 - Kicheche Mara Camp/Fly Camp/Masai Mara
Nov 27/28 - Ilkeliani Camp/Masai Mara
Nov 29 - Nairobi Hilton
Nov 30 - morning flight to JRO, transfer to Makoa Farm/Kilimanjaro area
Dec 1/2/3 - horseback/camping safari on Ndarakwai Ranch
Dec 4 - depart JRO at 9:45pm for LAX (via AMS/CDG)
Dec 5 - arrive LAX at 3:55pm
Dec 6 - plan next safari

The cost for our revised 13 night Kenya portion is $2907pp.

I also broke down and bought a new pair of chaps last weekend. I thought it was better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. I found a very thin, lightweight pair that take up about the same amount of room as a pair of jeans and weigh in at only 2 lbs.

Rocco may have The Vest, but I have The Riding System -

http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...9&x=0&y=ger7iw

This is one of those moments when I'm very happy I use a point and shoot camera Can't imagine how I'd be able to carry anything bigger!

The second pic is one that Elisabeth sent of a recent safari.

I can't believe we're leaving in 5 weeks!
Patty is online now  
Oct 9th, 2005, 08:01 PM
  #55  
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
Patty:
Congrats on the final tweaking. It looks like a great trip and at a great price. Love the chaps photo--armed and dangerous!
bat is offline  
Oct 10th, 2005, 06:46 AM
  #56  
 
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I so rarely get a chance to say this: Nice chaps!
Leely is offline  
Oct 10th, 2005, 06:48 AM
  #57  
 
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Patty, this looks like a VERY interesting trip. Im already looking forward to the trip report.

Thanks for showing the chaps. Id put the camera more towards the back. Im too envious to comment the fact that youll be riding among elephants.
Nyamera is offline  
Oct 11th, 2005, 11:48 AM
  #58  
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Thanks, Nyamera. I'll try that out.
Patty is online now  
Sep 28th, 2006, 11:52 PM
  #59  
 
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Patty,

How did you like Larsen's? How does it rank amongst the tented camps you've stayed at?
simbakubwa is offline  
Sep 29th, 2006, 06:27 AM
  #60  
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simbakubwa,
I didn't end up staying at Larsens on my last trip. My post dated 10/09/2005 shows my final itinerary for that trip. I will, however, be staying at Larsens this December, so if you can wait until then I can let you know what I thought of it. When are you traveling?
Patty is online now  

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