Tips on booking intra-africa flights

May 30th, 2006, 04:47 PM
  #1  
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Tips on booking intra-africa flights

Hello all-

I had been postponing buying my flights from EBB to NBO and NBO to JRO (now ARK?) in hopes of switching my award tickets to flight home from Nairobi instead of Kilimanjaro. I've given up on seats becoming available so I'm looking to purchase soon.

At some point I thought both flights would be on Kenya Airways and I could book online directly and get an e-ticket. However, it looks like the evening flight to Arusha I was planning on is with Precision Air.

My question is this: Would I be better booking the Precision flight (or both) through my ground operator? If I did book directly w/ Precision, does anyone have a recommendation on how to pick up my tickets. Would it be possible to do so when I first fly into NBO a few days before?

Thanks very much for your suggestions.

-Matt
99mkw is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 06:02 PM
  #2  
 
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You might want to double-check that NBO to JRO flight on the Kenya Airways website. They have a partnership with Precision Air so you may be able to purchase a Kenya Airways ticket on their website for a flight that is actually operated by Precision Air. That is exactly what my wife and I did for our trip in July.

I booked our later flight from JRO to Zanzibar directly with Precision Air but it was a more difficult process. You can't buy tickets online at their website, so I had to email their reservation department. They aren't very quick in responding so the back-and-forth process took around a week to resolve. You may want to call them instead, especially if your trip is relatively soon. We made the reservation over email (we received a confirmation number from the reservation agent named Harold in Arusha) but we will have to purchase the ticket in cash at the Precision Air counter once we arrive in JRO.
kumasawa is offline  
May 31st, 2006, 06:49 AM
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kumasawa,
Did you buy NBO-JRO tickets on www.kenya-airways.com? I don't see Kilimanjaro listed as a destination on their website. It appears that you can only choose cities which have KQ operated service.

Matt,
Where do you book Kenya Airways flights online and get it eticketed? I need to book NBO-DAR, but it looks like booking on www.kenya-airways.com requires picking up paper tickets at NBO and I'm not sure I want to deal with that. I went pretty far into a fake booking, but perhaps I'm missing something. I must admit I haven't really investigated other options, so if you know of a third party source I can book KQ tickets through and either get etickets or paper tickets mailed to me in advance, I'd love to know. Thanks.

ARK is the airport code for Arusha. Precision flies to JRO. You could also check fares on Air Kenya which flies Wilson-JRO. They're usually a little cheaper but only have the one mid-day flight. We ended up going with Precision because we wanted a morning flight and needed that extra 5 kg of luggage allowance We bought our tickets through our tour operator last time (cost was the same as me buying here) but this time their price is a little higher than what I'm finding on the KQ site.

Sorry no seats opened up for you to return from NBO. Are you planning to do anything around the Arusha area?
Patty is offline  
May 31st, 2006, 01:32 PM
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To sort of answer my own question, it appears that I can purchase my tickets through Kenya Airways by phone 866-536-9224 and they'll send paper tickets to me. Prices quoted over the phone for NBO-DAR were the same as through their website at $281.50 for economy class and $372.50 for business class plus a fee of $15 for sending the paper tickets plus a 3% surcharge for paying with a credit card (isn't that against merchant processing agreements in the US?) or I can pay by check.

What I found peculiar was that despite the above fares being full fares for their respective classes of service (fare classes are S and J), there's still a $100 penalty for cancellations. Apparently they don't offer a fare that allows you to cancel without a fee. I forgot to ask if a fee applies for date/time changes but assume so.

I also forgot to ask if they could issue a NBO-JRO ticket. I called the same number back a few minutes later and it just rang and rang and rang.

My tour operator quoted $315 for economy class and stated that they intend to purchase the tickets as soon as my deposit is received. I'm going to check what cancellation/change penalties there are if they book it for me. I'm not sure that it's really necessary to book a flight in December this far in advance.
Patty is offline  
May 31st, 2006, 07:02 PM
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Patty,
You are correct that you can't find a NBO->JRO flight on the front page of the Kenya Airways website. That appears to be a bug with their software. To work-around the problem, click on the "Multi-City" radio button under "Book & manage flights" which will re-direct you to another page.

Once on that second page, click on either "Round-Trip" or "One Way" (I'm not sure what option you want) and then manually type JRO into the "To airport" text field. Fill in the rest of the info (like dates) and click the "Search" button and you will see the available flights.

(I stumbled across this process because I actually booked a multi-city ticket NBO->KGL->NBO->JRO as we're first flying into Nairobi from the USA then going to Rwanda to see the gorillas then going on safari in Tanzania)

Yes, if you buy tickets on the website, you have to pick up the paper tickets at the airport (NBO) but they don't charge the 3% credit card surcharge.

Good luck!
Darren
kumasawa is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 09:21 AM
  #6  
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Thanks for the helpful advice. I had been so confused to see KQ flights from NBO to JRO on kayak.com but, like Patty, not see it as an available city on their website.

Patty-
The e-ticket option may be particular to the itinerary. When I select one-way EBB-NBO from the front page of the website all the flights that pop up have an "e" in a green box that's listed as "e-ticket option" in the legend. When I follow Darren's advice and do multi-city, the NBO-JRO flight appears but the e-ticket option goes away once I add that leg.

Darren-
Thanks for pointing out that work-around. I feel more comfortable booking on Kenya airways even if I have to pick up the ticket in NBO when I arrive.

-Matt
99mkw is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 09:46 AM
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Darren,
Thanks for the tip! Are you planning to pick up your tickets at NBO on the day of your flight or earlier?

Matt,
My flight NBO-DAR also shows the green "e" next to it. However if I go further into the booking process, under the ticket delivery information section, it only gives two options - Pick-up paper ticket at Jomo Kenyatta Int'l airport or Pick-up ticket at any Kenya Airways ticketing office (with the latter, I don't know if they mean any KQ office or one in Kenya). This is after I enter my name, email and phone number and click purchase.

I just noticed that the NBO-DAR fare has gone up today to $319.75. Guess I should've purchased it over the phone yesterday The base fare is exactly the same at $236 but I think they've increased the fuel surcharge by almost $40

That fare quote from my tour operator makes much more sense now.
Patty is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 12:41 PM
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I found this under their FAQ's -

Q Can I e-ticket through the website?
Not at the moment, but this option will be made available on-line soon.

Patty is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 06:31 PM
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Glad my work-around for the Kenya Airways website was helpful! You won't believe how many hours I spent on that site figuring out our travel itinerary!


Hi Patty,
I have to pick up my ticket at NBO on the day of my flight. We are flying into Nairobi from USA on Emirates Air. Once we land, we have to get a transit visa, pick up our luggage, go to the Kenya Airways counter to pick up our tickets / check-in / drop off luggage again, then go back through visa control to catch our flight to Rwanda. I'm a bit nervous about this process as we only have a 3 hour window, but I'm crossing my fingers everything will work out.
Darren
kumasawa is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 10:46 AM
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Good luck, Darren! Provided your EK flight arrives in NBO on time, 3 hours should be OK. Are there any flights to KGL later that day just in case?

I wonder if you had your KQ tickets already, would EK through check your bags to KGL? You could stay airside and pick up your boarding pass at the transfer desk.

Please let us know how it works out.
Patty is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 05:27 PM
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I'm hoping 3 hours is okay, but there are a lot of variables in the equation so a decent chance for havok with the plan.

When I bought the NBO->KGL ticket on the Kenya Airways website, there was no option for requesting printed tickets to be mailed to me. The only options were to pick them up at NBO or another Kenya Airways office. I suppose that I could have tried to call and see if they could be mailed, but I didn't think of it at the time and now I'm not sure that I want to risk it with only a month to go until the trip.

I'm more worried about our luggage getting delayed than I am about missing our Rwanda flight. That is the last flight that evening, but there is another one first thing in the morning.
kumasawa is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 03:32 PM
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Hello,

A good option for booking the more obscure intra-Africa flights is checking in Sidestep.com

http://www.sidestep.com

This is a great search engine that pulls in flights from more sources than usual -- it's definitely the only one I've seen which lists Air Botswana flights.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jun 3rd, 2006, 05:26 PM
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Patty, After reading a few of the posts above I think I need a paper bag to breathe in! I am wondering if I should be concerned about some of the items as well!

I booked my intra-Africa flights (posted below) through Great Lakes Safaris. I have been nervous about not getting a PTA number for my flights or confirmation for my hotel at the Gorilla’s Nest but I thought perhaps I am just on American Time and over focusing on Details ala American Style? I leave for Tanzania on Thursday, June 8th.

1. I am trying not to check luggage but I am not sure of the weights on these flights but I assumed if I have to check the luggage it would be checked through from JRO to NBO to KGL.

2. Transit Visa-will I need this? (I assumed I was in a Free Zone)

3. Do you think the time between my flights will work?

Kilimanjaro to Nairobi

Flight 1 Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Departure: 09:15 Kilimanjaro, Tanzania - Kilimanjaro
Arrival: 10:05 Nairobi, Kenya - Jomo Kenyatta Int'l

Nairobi to Kigali

Flight 2 Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Departure: 12:50 Nairobi, Kenya - Jomo Kenyatta Int'l
Arrival: 13:15 Kigali, Ruanda - Gregoire Kayibanda
Kigali to Nairobi

Flight 3 Saturday, July 01, 2006

Departure: 14:00 Kigali, Ruanda - Gregoire Kayibanda
Arrival: 16:20 Nairobi, Kenya - Jomo Kenyatta Int'l


Nairobi to Kilimanjaro

Flight 4 Saturday, July 01, 2006

Departure: 18:00 Nairobi, Kenya - Jomo Kenyatta Int'l
Arrival: 18:50 Kilimanjaro, Tanzania - Kilimanjaro

01 July - Depart Kilimanjaro to Amsterdam at 8:55 pm. Arrive Amsterdam at 7:15 am (02 July)
02 July - Depart Amsterdam to Dulles at 12:55 pm. Arrive Dulles at 3:30 pm.

Den
Denbasking is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 05:44 PM
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Den
Checked baggage allowance on Precision Air and Kenya Airways is 20kg. If you have all of your tickets, you should be able to through check your bags in which case, you wouldn't need to clear immigration at NBO between JRO and KGL. You can stay airside and walk between gates. The transit times in NBO should be fine.

I'm unsure of the transit situation at JRO and whether there's any sterile transit. The airport is tiny, so even if you have to claim/recheck with KLM, you should be OK. In case you have to recheck with KLM, you would need to pass by immigration. At that point technically your original Tanzania visa would no longer be valid since you left the Kenya/Tanzania/Uganda zone. However, they may have some provision for those connecting same day.
Patty is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 05:55 PM
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Patty,

Thanks for your response. Do you think it is 20kg for Rwanda Air Express also? Is this carry on & checked? Do we have to check?

No I do not have my tickets…
Early on Great Lakes Safaris said: “we pay/buy the ticket on your behalf and send you a PTA / ref. no. which you will show to the KQ office upon check in on the 28th. They will already have your name and reference in the System and you will not be bothered.”
When I asked for my PTA number on May 4th I got this response:
2: Your PTA Number and flight issues: Now for the time being you can not have a PTA ticket number because we have not yet purchased the ticket though it’s booked and the booking reference number is (and the number).
After we have purchased it, this will not even take longer than 10 minutes to have the Ticket number and references sent over to you, only that I am wondering if you will be in touch OR if you can be able to call / telephone us for this number. – please advise.
I responded with (sandwiched in between other nice Q & A’s):
I will not have any way to contact you once I leave the USA and will not be able to make any changes now or after arriving in Tanzania for my activities or my flight back home.
As all bookings and my flight back home are planned around the flights and the Gorilla Permit that I thought were already secured through you and Great Lakes Safaris I feel my plans are up in the air and would feel more comfortable having those flights and the PTA Number confirmed as soon as possible before I leave the USA. I will be on my own and the thought of arriving and spending my time at the airport without confirmation and possibly having to make new arrangements or being stranded does not sound appealing to this inexperienced traveler.
I will follow up on the other issues I am just hoping to reach you before you leave for the day and I don’t want my heart racing all weekend…
And I have not heard back yet! Perhaps this was offensive? I have been very worried about this do you think I should be? Will I be able to give just my name at the KQ office and get visa if I need to?

Den
Denbasking is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 05:56 PM
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Sorry for the lack of white space...
Denbasking is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 06:04 PM
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Patty I meant my last contact date to be May 24th.
Denbasking is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 06:31 PM
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The 20kg for Precision and Kenya Airways is for checked baggage. Our carry on was not weighed. The Precision flight from JRO-NBO will be on either an ATR42 or ATR72 so the overhead bins are small. I'm not sure if you could avoid checking. I guess it depends on what size bag(s) you have.

I don't know what Rwandair's allowance is. Have you checked their website?

When do you leave the US and is Great Lakes aware of your departure date? Did they book the Tanzania portion of your trip too? I'd ask them to purchase your tickets prior to this date so that you can have confirmation of ticket issuance before you leave. I assume you've already paid your final balance? If so, I don't see a reason why they can't go ahead and purchase the ticket. You sent the above reply on May 24th and haven't heard back? Have you tried re-sending? Perhaps they didn't receive it.
Patty is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 07:19 PM
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Yes I did check the Rwanda website but they do not have that information (the website seems like a work in progress which is understandable).
I also checked the KQ website and found different weights posted there and then I have a friend flying KQ on different flights and she was told 26 kg and 15 lbs carry on. So, this is why I was inquiring about JRO storage possibilities!
I leave the US for Tanzania on this Thursday June 8th and return to the US on July 1 from JRO after my flight back from Rwanda. Yes, Great Lakes is well aware of my before and after dates. No, they have nothing to do with the Tanzanian portion of my trip. Great Lakes has been very nice and pleasant to work with and I have felt very confident about them I think I just have “first time jitters” and am used to confirmations being a tad firmer.
I have paid the requested amount 3/4 by wire and was asked to bring the balance in cash which seems to be pretty typical and they have a good reputation for this working out. Also, the fees to transfer are so hefty if I would have known I actually would have paid all at once but this way it will give me more money to treat the guide on the Golden Monkey treks and such which we have planned.
My nervousness came with the switch from this below correspondence on May 22nd:
5. How do I connect with the guide at the airport?
You will see a person with a poster – with your name DEN BASKING – Great Lakes Safaris, so you know he is the one!

6. In Nairobi, do you have any advice for me on how to connect in a timely and safe manner to my next flight? I have tried to find a map to for the airport and gate information to no avail.
I believe you can get such details from the Kenya Airways Website, your travel agent can also perhaps advise on this – there’s always advise and info given to first time passengers in transit, I am not conversant with this but I only caution you to be careful and keep alert, don’t just talk to many strangers, keep attractive things that tempt thieves far and pay attention to what you are told. Otherwise being one Airways you are using from Arusha and to Arusha I presume you will have no problem even when in transit.

7. I will need the PTA / ref. no. which you mentioned that I will show to the KQ office upon check in on the 28th. I assume that KQ stands for Kenya Airways?
The Travel Company is going to get in touch with you immediately and confirm all issues to you. (This Travel Company was news to me)

8. What are the carry-on and checked luggage allowances for my flights?
The Travel Company is going to get in touch with you immediately and confirm all issues to you.

9. Do you know if there is storage available at Kilimanjaro airport for the things I will not need in Rwanda?
Not sure about this, but I have to ask and let you know – have asked the travel agent to advise.

10. Do I personally need to do anything else with the Flights and Gorilla's Nest Reservations?
Nothing, on your list just carry your personal, camera, good hiking boots, insect repellents, warm clothes for evenings and rainy day, etc….
I will be back to rectify on other things too.

Then the next correspondence when I mentioned that I had not heard from the “Travel Company” switched to as I stated that they had yet to purchase the tickets…

I think I will just call them on Monday at this point and ask for the “confirmation of ticket issuance” to use your term. You are probably right that maybe they just did not get my email and this was all set up awhile ago.

Well anyway I am glad to have read this thread as I need to find out the others things it brought up and at least I have it off my chest a little!

Thanks Patty, you really are wonderful to listen and tend to all the travelers that you do.

Den
Denbasking is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 07:09 AM
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Great Lakes has received excellent feedback here, so I believe everything will get sorted out. They probably don't issue airline tickets themselves which may explain the reference to the Travel Company. Many tour operators are not set up to do this and will use an outside travel agency for the actual ticketing. I agree it's nerve wracking though when you're just about to leave for a trip and are unsure of all of the details. Good idea to call. Keep us updated and good luck!
Patty is offline  

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