Jo'burg connections

Apr 2nd, 2003, 08:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 123
Jo'burg connections

We must spend a night in Johannesburg in order to make connections to Maun. Any suggestions for sightseeing, etc.? On the return from Victoria Falls, there is a 2 hour connection for the So. African Air flight to Atlanta. This is perfectly legal per the airlines but the travel agency wishes us to leave Vic Falls on the morning flight. Any thoughts as to the on-time schedules of So. African Air.? The flight to US would not be held if the local flight is delayed.
Lee is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2003, 08:41 AM
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Dear Lee,

I have a friend who lives in Joburg-she can give marvellous suggestions I'm sure. I know she also takes people around. Let me know & I will e-mail her ASAP because she doesn't always look at her e-mail every day.
pattysuericia is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2003, 10:34 AM
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If you have a free night (not day), my advice would be to head to Sandton Square, which is a very safe area to walk around, with good restaurants, including one of my favorites, The Butcher Shop. There's also a casino at Montecasino that's part of another big complex with great shopping.

In my experience the SAA flights have been on time, but it only takes your flight to be delayed to screw up your trip. Better to spend the time in JNB airport, which is pretty good especially if you can access either the BA or SAA lounge, than risk missing flight.
thit_cho is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2003, 11:20 AM
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My feeling might be that it is not even so much the delay that you need to worry aobut but the issue of connecting. Find out from the travel agency if you can check your luggage straight through from Vic Falls to Atlanta and if once you go through immigration in Vic Falls do you have to exit the International section at Jhb airport and then re check in to your flight.

If you have to pick up your luggage at Jhb airport then the whole business of getting your luggage, checking in for the international flight and going through security can take a long time.

It gets very hectic especially as it gets closer to take off time when there are a number of international jumbo jets departing at the same time.If that is the case then 2 hours will not be enough.

If you have just one night in Jhb on arrival and are leaving the next morning, you may be interested in staying at the Caesars Gauteng Hotel and Casino which is a few minutes from the airport.(free transportation is provided by the hotel.) It has a whole complex of restaurants, entertainment options, shops, pools and a health club with massage options. It has a 3 star section and a 5 star section.

It might be a consideration to just relax and unwind after a long flight.
Waverley is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 09:39 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I saw you post that you have a friend that lives in Jo'burg. Would you be able to ask her about ideas of sights to see. We have 2 1/2 days there and would like some ideas. We leave 9/7 and will be in Jo'burg 9/15-9/17. Here is my email address [email protected]. Thank you for your help.
dterrell69 is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2003, 05:05 AM
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Lee -

We left VFA on the 4pm flight and 2hrs. later landed in JNB. However, in this case we were spending the night in Sandton before leaving the next morning to Kruger.

However, our return flight from Kruger area was from Nelspruit - we departed between 5-6pm, a 1-hr. flight, arrived in JNB in Domestic terminal, collected our luggage and walked leisurely to the International terminal. There was a very long line, that moved rather quickly - weighing luggage, doing a bag search, reservations agent provided boarding pass, went thru departure procedures at customs/immigration and finally inside the International terminal gates.

Long line at the Thos. Cook window to exchange Rand to USD (or other currencies), then found our way to our gate where hand baggage was searched, then boarded plane.

We found the process very efficient and quick and had more than enough time before the flight to JFK departed at about 8:05pm.

You might want to check whether SAA will thru=check your bags from VFA (via JNB) to ATL, if so, then that's great.
But SAA will know how many passengers on their VFA flight will be connecting in JNB to ATL, and if the delay is a short one, will hold the plane. They make up short delays in the air which should get you into ATL on time. We arrived in JFK almost 1-hr. earlier than scheduled.

Should you decide to take the earlier flight (believe it's about 12N maybe 2pm [schedules do change] you'll either have a 4-hr or 6-hr layover in JNB and you'll probably want to do something during that time - Or maybe shop or catch some sleep.

Suggest you contact SAA and find out the "on-time" arrival status of your particular flligt from VFA-JNB, and if delays how they handle them.
Sep 2nd, 2003, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 596
Lee, we just had the same situation a couple of months ago and we chose to spend the night at the Sun Intercontinental Hotel which is literally a few yards from the terminal doors (still within the airport parking area). It is a 5 star and we used the evening to get over jet lag and relax before the big trip. If you want to sightsee, your travel agent or your hotel should have some ideas for a legitimate tour guide should you want to go that route. Otherwise run a search here on Fodors for Johannesburg, J'burg and Joburg for more tips. On your return, you should go with the travel agency's advice on the morning flight. The J'burg airport has a lot of shops and casual restaurants. And you may have to go through the VAT process (where you pack your purchases separately and show them with receipts at the VAT desk) and then stand in the exchange line. It's better to have more time there than not enough. There is also a transit hotel completely inside the airport where one can rest if you feel the need. Let us know how it went.
Clematis is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2003, 02:03 PM
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Re the VAT refunds that Clematis mentions - we obtained our South Africa VAT refund at the mall where we made our purchases, namely at the V&A Mall in Capetown. Didn't have to wait till we got to the airport.

While we made lots of purchases of small items in Victoria Falls, they weren't due any refund and we were never questioned about them on our return to JNB.

If you make purchases in JNB Airport, then you'll have to get VAT refund there; otherwise the VAT can be obtained possibly where they were purchased (at a mall) as ours were in a CPT.
Sep 3rd, 2003, 11:14 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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Sandi, that's cool to know. Where did you go in the V and A to get your refund?
Clematis is offline  
Sep 4th, 2003, 04:20 AM
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Clematis -

I did lots of my souvenir/trinket buying at Out of Africa (they also had a shop at the JNB Airport) at the V&A Mall, about USD$150 and the sales person gave me my sales slips and directed me to a booth either right on that floor or the one above or below (don't exactly recall) - there was a kiosk in the middle of the floor. They handled it right there. Easy!
Sep 8th, 2003, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097

Not sure of what you mean when you say that "they handled it right there" but as far as I am conerned it is a waste of time to go to the V&A to do your VAT returns. The reason as to why I say this is because all that the VAT office in the V&A handle is the fact that they see your purchases and hand you an envelope which you have to produce at the airport once again to say that they have done this. One STILL has to go to the airport VAT office to enventually collect your cheque. All in all you might as well do everything in one move at the airport imho.

The story that the VAT staff throw about saying that the line for "envelope holders" will be quicker is also a lot of nonsense as I have seen this line to be so long that travellers would take much longer than the normal line of no envelope holders.

Furthermore if you have purchased anything at any other venue other than the V&A one still has to go through the normal line anyway as you cannot use the "envelope line " to show your purchases from other places.

My suggestion is do all in one move at the airport when you leave and as has been correctly pointed out leave yourself with enough time to do so. (30 minutes extra should be adequate)

Hope this all helps.

Selwyn Davidowitz
Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Sep 8th, 2003, 12:04 PM
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Selwyn -

You are probably absolutely correct as to the VAT procedure.

However, with the exception of stopping in every pharmacy at the JNB airport to buy drugs unobtainable in States (and before check-in), I never stopped anywhere at the JNB airport once in the International departure terminal - not even to have Rand converted to USD (I had none left). I went right to my gate.

I got my $18 someplace and the only place I made any purchases in SA was at the V&A. I can clearly see the guy at the mall handing me the money. Maybe the procedure has changed since I was in SA 2 years ago. That was my experience.

Still have my receipt for the VAT refund which I got at the V&A Mall.
Sep 9th, 2003, 08:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 123
This is an answer to my own question.
We opted to spend the day resting at the Sun across from the airport and felt we did not miss any shopping or sightseeing experience by not leaving the hotel area.
On the return to the US, the long layover at Jo'berg airport (1:30 to 7:30) was boring. The shopping at airport shops was extensive but very expensive. Try to do all shopping at Vic Falls. There is a transit hotel at Jo'berg airport--6 hour minimum, $48 for single and $73 for double room.
Lee is offline  

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