Tight JNB connection and luggage

Aug 17th, 2011, 06:24 AM
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Tight JNB connection and luggage

We have a tight connection in JNB to CPT (one hour 20 minutes). Since JNB will be our first stop in Africa, I'm assuming we'll have to pick up any checked baggage and go through customs before heading to domestic terminal. Am I wrong in thinking that an 80-minute connection would make this a challenge?

I had planned to check our main bags because of the 3 oz liquid restrictions, but am now wondering if it would be wiser to ditch the extra liquids and carry our duffel bags onboard. (Then we at least wouldn't have to wait for the luggage to show up on the carousel in JNB.) SAA biz class allows two bags for a total of 36 pounds from what I've read, so we should be OK on weight. But I've read on this forum that they are super-strict about both weight and size limits once you get to JNB.

Any recent experience with doing this kind of connection would be helpful.

- Elaine
egbear is offline  
Aug 17th, 2011, 07:05 AM
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I did it once and the gate agents were vigilant about getting all the JNB arrivals onto the plane to Cape Town. They're used to this procedure. I even goofed up somehow and didn't get my boarding pass verified or something and still had time. Check in advance on the paperwork procedures upon arrival so your documents are in order.

I was worried about the time frame and wanted my agent to change it. They assured me that this time frame was common place and they were right.

I did make sure I carried everything with me and no checked bags. I always wear a safari travel vest to help with that task and adhere to weight restrictions in carryons even though it looks both dorky and bulky. Binoculars can become a fashion accessory if needed--even more dorky, but so what.

The plane change time frame worked fine for me, even with my goofup that caused more delay. However, our landing was on time, not late.
atravelynn is offline  
Aug 17th, 2011, 07:12 AM
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It's encouraging to hear that the time frame is normal and doable. Thanks.
egbear is offline  
Aug 17th, 2011, 07:44 AM
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I have done it many times over the years including once last week but in the reverse (CPT-JNB-ATL).

If your ticket from JNB-CPT is on Sout African Airways AND it is the same airline ticket then in this case ONLY I think you will be ok. If the SAA flight from the USA is running late they will automatically re-book you on the next flight before you land. Flights on SAA leave JNB for CPT almost hourly.

It also depends on what time you arrive. If lots of other planes land at the same time you may have a big line at immigrations. On my last few arrivals in South Africa the government seems to have hired a lot more immigrations officials so passport control is much quicker than it used to be. If passport control took any longer than 30 minutes OR your flight is delayed any more than 15 minutes you will in all liklihood miss your connection.

Like I said, if this is booked on one SAA ticket you should be ok.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
Safari_Craig is offline  
Aug 17th, 2011, 08:45 AM
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Craig - Glad to hear that you have done it! Yes, both flights are on one SAA ticket. Are you including picking up checked luggage when you say we should be OK or only if we just have carry-on?

Our flight arrives at 5:20 p.m. on a Saturday, which I'm hoping is a slow time. If we miss the 6:40 and we get booked on another flight to Cape Town, that's not a big deal.

- Elaine
egbear is offline  
Aug 17th, 2011, 09:08 AM
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Elaine - based on about 40 landings at JNB in the past six years (I tend to pass through JNB 2-4 times per safari) I would say my checked bags are almost available by the time I clear immigrations or within 5 minutes. Rechecking the bags add another 5 minutes.

Don't get me wrong, you are cutting it close but since you are going to Cape Town and not trying to make the last flight of the day to a $1,000 per night safari lodge your risk is mitigated.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
Safari_Craig is offline  
Aug 17th, 2011, 10:09 AM
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Craig - It's now a risk I'm prepared to face well-informed. Thanks Elaine
egbear is offline  
Aug 17th, 2011, 05:28 PM
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Make sure to check what the next flights are if you miss your connection. It's good to be prepared with a plan B if you misconnect.

I misconnected on my recent Zambia trip, and ended up having to spend the night in Lusaka instead of South Luangwa. Luckily, my travel insurance covered my overnight stay and the lost night at the lodge. There should be plenty of connections between JNB and CPT, so you should be fine.
lifelist is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 12:55 AM
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I would not worry too much as its been noted SAA has hourly flights JNB to CPT, so if you miss it they will put you on the next flight. However, we recently did that route and the luggage was very slow to come off, in fact at one point we were told all the luggage was off the plane and several folks (including us) assumed our luggage was lost and high-tailed it over to the baggage claim desk! Meantime another cart of luggage eventually came off(thankfully ours included.) Many folks were about to miss their connection. So, you just never know.

Also, as I noted in another thread, our carry-ons were never weighed nor did I see anyone's being weighed. And getting through immigration was very fast.
jczinn is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 04:40 AM
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Thanks jczinn. I did a practice-pack this past weekend, and got to 18 pounds in my duffel bag pretty easily. We are going all carry-on, which will at least let us skip the baggage carousel (and the worry about lost luggage). Glad yours finally showed up.
egbear is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 07:48 AM
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Make sure your duffel is the correct dimensions as well as the proper weight... 22" x 14" x 9". Some duffels are taller than that 9" restriction. I've seen an airline make a passenger check a carry-on duffel because it was 12" x 12".
ShayTay is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 08:13 AM
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I would say carry the bags if you can - We had 90 minutes before our internal departure, and unfortunately had a 40 minute delay in London so missed the flight. (For my flight we had to collect and re-check bags through customs in JNB which was what killed our time). Our next few flights were overbooked so we ended up having to rent a car and drive - I'm sure to Cape Town the planes are bigger and more frequent than ours going on safari, but we were booked SAA throughout and they didn't do much to help hold the flight. I would say to check first if you'll be expected to recheck bags as that may make a big difference
rachelnyc04 is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 09:41 AM
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Hmmm, on SAA's site I only saw a 45-inch total limit for a carry-on bag. Duffel is 11 X 23 x 11, so it would meet the 45-inch limit exactly.

ShayTay, can you tell me more about the 9-inch height limit? Is that for Bateleur or Federal maybe?
egbear is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 09:49 AM
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Rachel - thanks for the warning not to expect much help from SAA. I'm going to make a list of the next available flights so I'll be ready just in case.
egbear is offline  
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