SAA to JNB- airport time HELP!

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Jul 17th, 2005, 03:44 PM
  #1
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SAA to JNB- airport time HELP!

I need some advice from you guys that have had experience with flying SAA to JNB. We're flying from ATL on Tue. 10:20am, Aug. 31, arriving Wed., 10:30am. Now here's the trick....I have to book a BA flight leaving for Vic Falls at 11:25am.

Now I am certifiable, and I'm sure there are papers somewhere, (even if they aren't to be found in a hospital!), I'm sure I must have been certified by now....but what do you think, am I crazy to think,
"Sure, youbetcha! We'll make the flight!"

I tell myself it is such a looong flight they must have plenty of time to make up for any lost time.
That sounds logical to me.

But DH often doesn't get my logic, but then you know how irrational the males of species are with all that missing genetic material.

I've been checking the BA site for JNB-VFA availability forever and there's been loads of seats.
UNTIL... while online I was finally making our reservation FOR THURSDAY a message popped up reading "whilst you were making your reservation" all the seats were bought....!!!!!!
"WHILST", now that's what I call timing! Lots of seats any other day, just not THURSDAY. Therefore we have not one day but one hour between flights.

Well, at this point all I can say is "I'm so excited I just can't hide it." EEEEEK!!!

I should mention we always travel with only carry-on baggage ;>

I called SAA to check out my long flight-on time theory and was told "That's the stormy time of year in Johannesburg."....sadist. DH reminded me of how we used to get stuck in New Orleans after Jazzfest...sadist.
OH! But wouldn't that mean the flight to VFA would be delayed?! I must go bring that ray of sunshine and logic into his life ;-D

PLEEZE advize or bring hope on any of the topics mentioned. I've called Delta Rewards and changing flights to arrive in SA earlier is impossible at this point without someone canceling.
mzcuriouz is offline  
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Jul 17th, 2005, 04:59 PM
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You will probably miss the flight. It is a long flight but that is because you are going a long way. I would not chance it -- if you miss that flight will you be able to get on another one or will you use your money.

You can look into flying to Livingstone. Perhaps that flight leaves later.
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Jul 17th, 2005, 05:05 PM
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bwanamitch
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I would recommend a stay of at least 2 hours at JNB, that means don't book any flight that departs before 12:30. All these long flights to JNB have some delay, and if you have a connection flight only one hour later, chances are good that your checked luggage doesn't make it. I once had this experience in JNB... not a good start for a safari.

Mitch
 
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Jul 17th, 2005, 07:40 PM
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I was in JNB last week. Arrived from London and was through immigration and customs in about 20 mins and then a quick walk to the domestic terminal to catch my connection to CPT. I know this question has been asked before but why the need to go through immigration/customs if you are going on to VFA? You could simly transit JNB and your only worry then would be that the bags make it to the BA flight.
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Jul 17th, 2005, 08:53 PM
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An airline make the schedule based on projected flying time, plus possible time for delay at departing airport.

Headwind/tailwind between the US and Africa is pretty constant during the year, so the projected flying time shouldn't vary too much. Added time for ATL will be the same whether you're flying Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama, or Johannesburg.

Therefore, if you're late late leaving ATL, then you'll arrive JNB late. You cannot "catchup" during a long flight. Your logic is flawed.
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Jul 17th, 2005, 11:03 PM
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Although the BA/Comair flight is called "Regional", it leaves from the Int/ terminal. So you do NOT need to clear immigration or customs, it's a "transfer" and there is a transfer area before immigration/customs. And your luggage can be checked through if you ask for that on departure, even though it is a different airline. (This is contrary to what BA/Comair told me recently.)

BUT . . . you're taking a huge chance! You're assuming that the flight will be on time or better. There is every chance that either you or your hold luggage (or both) will not make the next flight. For example, one of the two BA flights from LHR this morning will be four hours late.

BTW, I'm male. And using my brain as well as my experience.
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Jul 18th, 2005, 04:56 AM
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First of all, you need to decide if you want the ATL-JNB and JNB-VF flights to be on the same ticket. If they're on the same ticket (that is, itinerary), then the connection time has to be a "legal" one for an SA-BA intl-intl connection at JNB. (I have no idea if it is, but your travel agent can tell you.) If the segments are on the same ticket, you are protected if your incoming flight is late and you miss the connection. ("Protected" means that BA will put you on the next available flight.)

If you ticket the ATL-JNB and JNB-VF flights separately, then you have no protection. If you miss the BA flight, you might lose some or all of the money you paid for the ticket (depending on your fare rules), and you wouldn't have any priority for rebooking a new flight.

While trans-oceanic flights do sometimes arrive early, they are also subject to delays: traffic delays at departing airports (and Atlanta is notorious for that), unusual winds enroute, and mechanical issues are the most common reason.

Depending on the airport layout, you would expect to make a 55-minute connection anywhere from 20-80% of the times you tried it. Your luggage would have about the same chance, or maybe a bit less. Whether or not that risk is acceptable is up to you.
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Jul 18th, 2005, 05:23 AM
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Is the ATL/JNB flight landing at 10:30? I heard it was landing later with the Airbus planes. Also heard they have been changing the seating in the Airbuses so there is more legroom. You may be lucky and get one that has been reconfigured.
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Jul 18th, 2005, 09:41 AM
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I seem to recall others mentioning that SAA flight to JNB frequently makes an unscheduled stop to refuel -- sometimes in Cape Verde I believe -- and that it is not rare for it to arrive late.
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Jul 18th, 2005, 10:26 AM
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All SAA flights now stop at SID (Sal, Cape Verde Island) both ways to refuel. The scheduled layover time is just one hour, so it's not going to help much if the flight is late getting out of ATL. Maybe a little, but not by much.

And as we all know, one more leg means one more chance of delay, for a variety of reasons.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 03:45 PM
  #11
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Thanks everyone for your resonses ;-D

I'm sorry if anyone took offense at my "Y" comment ;>. I certainly don't think guys lack intelligence, and some of my best playmates , including DH, have been males. But in general I do think there is a gawd awful price paid for that need-for-dominance wiring. How could not being in control not drive guys a little nutty, eg. asking for directions, and BTW you must have noticed the prison populations? I'm just guessing, but I bet it has something to do with the info that's on that 2nd "X". But I'm here to learn, and I am Mzcuriouz.

ANYHOO, ABOUT MY FLIGHT!
After talking to another BA agent, oh!, I couldn't book on line because they only accept "country of origin" (SA) credit cards. BA-USA, Expedia, etc., is much more expensive.

I do not have to be a citizen of SA, so I could purchase through a SA agent. Any referals?

I've decided to get the Fri, Sept. 2nd flight that arrives in VFA at 1:00pm...and on to DumaTau ;-D!
BA tells me that the legal time between the JNB_VFA flight is one hour. SOOO, if the Wed. flight is on time we'll go to the BA desk and see if we can get on the 11:25am flight. If not we'll be really-really rested when we start our safari.

AGAIN, MUCHAS GRACIAS. It really helped to be able to write you and I very greatful for your time and consideration. It made a difference.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 09:28 PM
  #12
akimyai
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It is curious that so many of us are in the same predicament. I am also trying to connect thru JNB to Vic Falls, coming in on a Virgin flight at 9:15 and departing on BA at 11:25.

I've spoke to many people at both airlines but never seem to get a consistent answer. Half of the people at Virgin say don't worry, the other half say it is a BIG risk, especially if I am checking bags, since I'll have to collect my bags at JNB, clear customs, then re-check in, this time with BA.

The folks at BA say they same thing - they are split 50/50 as to whether or not it is enough time to make my connection. I'm surprised that there is no written policy.

ArthurSA you are always so helpful. In your post, you mention that baggage can be checked thru on BA from JNB to Vic Falls, even if I'm arriving at JNB on a different carrier?

Does that mean Virgin can tag my bag as JFK-LHR-JNB-VFA, even though I am only taking Virgin to JNB?

Also, for mzcuriouz, I am wondering who told you 1 hour was the "legal" limit. Is that only for travel from one BA flight to another BA flight? For different carriers, I've been told it was anywhere from 2-3 hours (again no consistent answer).

Interestingly, on BA's website, they mention that check-in for Flight 6285 to VFA closes 20 minutes before departure (for most other flights it is usually 45 minutes - so maybe they are used to people like us making a mad dash thru the terminal?)

Another interesting tid-bit - I've called Virgin to inquire about on-time performance for their JNB flights - they don't have any! (at least that's what the agent said, and I confirmed with customer care in a different department).
 
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Jul 20th, 2005, 10:46 PM
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akimyai, from my experience of airlines and travel agents, please don't take my research as "gospel". Especially as what I was told by BA this week was directly the opposite to what I had been told a few weeks ago!

But it seems that the answer is yes, you can check bags through from a different carrier. When I called BA this week I was especially insistent, because some of what I was being told wasn't clear enough for me. So (perhaps in desperation, to get rid of me?!) the consultant put me through to a desk at the airport and they also confirmed that the baggage could be checked through, Int. to Int. (Or in the case of the Vic Falls flight, "regional".) With repeated reminders that nothing was guaranteed, regarding either the baggage or the passenger getting on the flight!

If the baggage is accepted at check-in as being checked all the way through (and surely Virgin at your end should know their policy, that's where it is implemented?), then you do NOT have to clear either immigration or customs. And of course if you had hand luggage only (as I do myself, my trips being usually less than a week) then there is absolutely no doubt. You go through a transit area, just as you'd do at airports such as LHR.

It is different if you are travelling on to destinations in South Africa. Then, you have to collect hold baggage, clear immigration and customs, and walk down to the Domestic terminal.
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Jul 21st, 2005, 12:36 AM
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akimyai, I've only just realised that you and I also posted in an earlier thread, about that routing. And where I gave directions on how to get from Int. arrivals to Int. departures.
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Jul 21st, 2005, 12:39 AM
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Sorry, posted by mistake before I finished . . .

Those directions were based on that earlier info that I had got from BA/Comair, when they told me that your luggage could't be checked through from a different carrier. So, if the later info is correct, I guess you can ignore those directions!
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Jul 24th, 2005, 11:00 AM
  #16
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Hi again, about that transit time. It seemed to me the BA agent was looking it up on a computer. And the guy used the phrase "legal time", anyway I was awfully impressed.
Professional "in-group" talk is always such a turn-on, but then I'm pretty easy because I have such a high value on fun and learning new stuff ;-D

Anyway, although we're booked on Friday's flight, I'm secretly, excitedly confident we'll make the Tuesday flight. DH is happy with the security of the Fri. tickets and so we're both happy
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Jul 25th, 2005, 11:40 AM
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akimyai,
Whether or not your connection meets the 'legal' minimum connect time is only relevant if your VS (JFK-LHR-JNB) and BA (JNB-VFA) flights are all on the same ticket. In that case, you'd be protected on the next BA departure if you were to miss your flight.

If you have two separate tickets for your VS & BA flights, then it really makes no difference if your connect time is legal or not. Neither airline will be responsible for your mis-connect and worst case scenario, you may have to purchase a new ticket on BA for their next departure.

Regardless if you have 1 or 2 tickets, VS should have an interline agreement with BA, so you can check your luggage through to your final destination.
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