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South African Airways Question Regarding Connection And Flying Standby.....

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May 13th, 2004, 06:21 PM
  #1
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South African Airways Question Regarding Connection And Flying Standby.....

Please, please, please, advise me on the following issues.

Okay, here's the deal. I arrive in Lusaka, WAY too early on my final day, at 11:40AM. Because I am able to fly on the 19 seat Zambian Airways flight that scaredtodeath actually liked last year, I am going to stick with this flight, departing Mfuwe at 10:30AM.

So, now, here I'll be at Lusaka before Noon, and my flight to Joburg doesn't even leave until 5PM! Worse yet, I arrive in Joburg at 7PM and my international flight to London departs at 8:05PM, leaving an hour to make my flight. Both flights are aboard South African Airways, so I am hoping that my checked in luggage will automatically get transferred to the international flight, but that still means that I am going to stress out about personally missing the flight.

THERE IS AN EARLIER SAA FLIGHT THAT LEAVES LUSAKA AT 2:30PM AND ARRIVES IN JOBURG AT 4:30PM. How hard would it be to fly standby on a SAA flight? Although I have Business Class seats on the first flight, if necessary, I would fly economy just to get to Joburg earlier. Despite worrying about making my connection, in all honesty, the Lusaka Airport is pretty depressing, and the city of Lusaka is a 30 minute drive away, although I am not adventurous enough to even go to Lusaka for a couple hours and then turn around. Well, maybe I am, but I don't know if scaredtodeath is, hence her handle.

If there are Business Class seats available on the earlier flight, am I automatically eligible for them, since I am flying business class on the later flight?

I would love to have three hours at the Joburg airport to enjoy a couple cocktails in the very nice Business Class lounge, while typing away a little trip report on the Fodors website!

So, what are my chances of getting a standby flight on the earlier flight? Are my chances greatly increased by my Business Class seats? Do I get preference over everybody else because of my Business Class seats? Am I automatically put in Business Class on the earlier flight, if seats are available?

I do have www.awardplanner.com on the case for me, but I would like to have other Fodorites expert advice on the issue, as well.

Another major benefit of having the earlier flight to Joburg would be having the ability of checking in my excess luggage at the Joburg Airport instead of at the London Airport. I am completely familiar with the Joburg Airport and its baggage check-in facilities in the basement, while the London Heathrow Airport would be a nightmare to navigate. I do hope to weigh down my Italy travel companions with some of my excess luggage but they may have an idea or two of where I can stick that excess luggage!

Thanks!!!
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May 13th, 2004, 06:24 PM
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>>>Despite worrying about making my connection, in all honesty, the Lusaka Airport is pretty depressing

I meant to say BESIDES worrying (not despite worrying).
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May 13th, 2004, 10:20 PM
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Roccco,

With you arriving in JHB at 19h00 for a 20h05 international flight you are already transgressing airline rules of a 2 hour pre-arrival at the airport for an international flight. (Whether you are arriving for a new flight or simply connecting from another flight such as your Zambian Airways flight) No travel agent would have been allowed to have booked your flights in the manner that you are doing had you booked these flights through an agent. If you are using an agent who suggested this to you may I suggest that you fire the party. If something had to go wrong on the Lusaka flight and you arrived late or latish at Jhb you would not be allowed to quote your lateness to get onto a flight. I am saying this because you could well have found that if there are any other standby passengers they could be sitting in what was your seats or some economy passengers could have been upgraded into them.

In terms of flying on a standby basis for an international flight out of SA whether it be in first, business or econmomy class I VERY VERY STRONGLY advise you NOT to do this. Remember this is not a country where 20 flights leave for the same foreign country every day. If you miss the flight you wait - Thats it!! Only problem is that your wait can be for anything from 24 to who knows how many hours.

Furthermore as a pretty well travelled person you out of all people should know that there is one factor that you never mess around with or for that matter plan in a very close schedule type manner and that is airlines, especially international airlines.

Sorry to tell STD this piece of wise info but one does not book flights because you like them, one books flights relative to the times that they fly and as per how you need them.

Just my twopence worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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May 13th, 2004, 11:04 PM
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Hi Roccco

You should be able to make the JNB/LHR connection provided that you check in for the JNB/LHR leg in Lusaka, however, with only an hour between the two international flights you will probably make it but do not be surprised if your luggage does not!

My suggestion is that when you arrive in Lusaka airport go to SAA and try to get onto the earlier flight. You may need to pay in for a ticket change, no clue as to what it might be but when I have done this domestically it has been a few hundred rand. Whether you get onto the flight or not will depend entirely on seat availability and seats are provided on a first come first served basis, and within the cabin class. That means that your business class ticket will not put you ahead on the list for an economy seat but I doubt that the business class cabin will be full. If someone has an economy class ticket on a later flight and they are on standby for a seat on the earlier flight, it is very unlikely (virtually impossible) that they will be upgraded to a business class seat on the early flight (unless they are prepared to buy a one-way business class ticket)! Unfortunately, unless you have a full price ticket that allows changes I do not think that you will be automatically entitled to a seat on the earlier flight.

In terms of your chances of getting onto the earlier flight ? I think they are pretty good (but do factor in the day of the week ? Fridays are always busier).

Even if you make the earlier flight - check through to LHR from Lusaka just to be safe as clearing customs, passport control and checking in at JIA during peak times (from 5pm to 8pm) can be bedlam.
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May 14th, 2004, 05:56 AM
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Is the earlier flight from Lusaka fully booked? If not, won't they let you pay a fee and make the change now?
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May 14th, 2004, 06:40 AM
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The earlier flight is not fully booked. I may still buy tickets on Travelocity, so I think there is a good chance that Award Planner may be able to get me on the earlier flight.

Regarding Selwyn's words about firing my travel agent..."Rocco, You're Fired!!!"

Trust me, I would rather have this very minor dilemma than to have paid double for my Zambian portion of the trip. Award Planner had no clue what Star Of Africa was going to be able to put together for me for my flight back to Lusaka. AP was most likely giving me the very most time to make my way back to Lusaka, in case I wasn't able to arrive in time for the 2:30PM flight.

Because I will be in the international terminal at Joburg for my arriving flight from Lusaka and in the same terminal for my departing flight to London, I am quietly confident that I will be able to make my flight, either way...unless Zambian Airways pulls the same stunt that they did last year and is late getting me back to Lusaka.

Last year, on our way from Lusaka to Mfuwe, just as the passengers were ready to board the plane, we all watched our plane enter the taxiway and go bye-bye! Seems that the other half of the Zambian Airways fleet (two planes total in their fleet), had some mechanical problems in Harare. Therefore, instead of taking us one hour away to Mfuwe and then going to Harare, some hare-brain thought it would be a good idea to leave us all stranded at the Lusaka Airport for an extra four hours so they could go pick up the stranded passengers in Harare.

Really, that would not be a problem this year, as I have 5.5 tedious hours at the Lusaka Airport scheduled.

I'll let you know, but I think that between Award Planner and I, that we will fix this little hiccup.

Thanks for all the advice. I will definitely try to check in all the way to London, beginning in Lusaka.
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May 14th, 2004, 07:31 AM
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Roccco,
I don't think the issue is having a business seat (in terms of priority) it's having an award seat that may be the issue here. I would think SAA would let you go standby if they have availability but it is an if...some airlines are real sticklers about not changing award bookings in advance...although when I missed a connecting flight in Frankfurt last year they swith the reservations around and put me on the next direct flight home.

In terms of flyings advice I think the very best thing to do is...call SAA directly and ask their policy and post a note on FlyerTalk...either in the SAA section or the general travel forum. The Flyertalk people are incredibly knowledgeable about flying.

There is no definative answer to your question because even if SAA with put you on standby it still depends on availability.

Perhaps you can watch STD's DVD player to pass the time!
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May 14th, 2004, 07:39 AM
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Welltravelledbrit,

Regarding STD's DVD player, now that is a very sensitive issue!

Don't believe her, she will be more than happy to let me watch along with her.

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS!

I must have the greatest travel agent ever! I called SAA directly this morning and without a problem at all, I was able to make the switch to the earlier flight, meaning that I have a 2.5 hour layover in Lusaka and a 3.5 hour layover in Joburg.

Now I will have plenty of time to use the luggage check at the Joburg Airport AND write a little trip report while waiting for my flight!
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May 14th, 2004, 08:28 AM
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Just a sidenote...I will be flying Business Class throughout. For the last flight, all I have to do is go to a Delta counter at LAX, allowing about 30 minutes extra, and they will reissue my paper ticket for the Lusaka - Joburg segment.
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