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Choices for Air - AF, KLM via Europe OR SAA via JNB to HARARE, Zim


Mar 9th, 2014, 05:39 AM
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Choices for Air - AF, KLM via Europe OR SAA via JNB to HARARE, Zim

Hi all,

Booked Sept safari in Zim. Originally planned on IAD, South African air direct to JNB, transfer SAA to Harare in Business.

Found an option that would save $2K ~ it is on AF and KLM's airbus 330-300- so not a flat bed, and wonder how the transfers - JFK -CDG -AMS to HRE would be, at 2 hrs and 1.5 hrs timing. Are there transit areas without having to go through security and immigration (I imagine all airports would have a 2nd security in Europe but don't go enough to know)

Wonder how AF/KLM keep their aircrafts up; are the seats comfortable with the angled recline? Spending nearly two days I'd hope they be clean, attentive staff, decent food ~ these days who knows; anyone have recent experiences with AF/KLM 330-300?

Would hate to try to save money just to have a miserable flight/and or missed connections.
esp before a tented moblie camp for 2 weeks.

Hoping some European travelers can help me out here. Thanks so much.
Optons: JFK - CDG - AMS - HRE

or IAD on SAA airbus 340 to JNB; transfer SAA to Harare. Straighter shot, 2K more.

Don't mind switching planes but hate to have planes ready for the graveyard. The KLM flat beds NEW World are outrageously priced, including layovers of 7-11 hrs in NBO. which I'd never do. AF is working on theirs but not on this routing.
moneyburns is offline  
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Mar 9th, 2014, 08:07 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Africa is not my part of the world so I've run some test fares as an exercise in education, using www.itasoftware.com
One problem: That time-wasting hop from CdG to AMS. Out of NYC there are plenty of choices for flying non-stop to AMS with little or no price penalty. AMS is also easier for transfers.
Prices on SAA non-stop to South Africa, from either Washington or NYC, come up on its own website within $150 or so of Delta/Air France-KLM in mid-September, and eliminate one transfer. That's for Economy, which is my territory.
As to service aboard, Delta/Air France-KLM are scheduled as almost a single airline across the Atlantic. In economy, AF may have a slight edge on wine and movies (i.e French.) KLM cabin crew are heartier. And Delta is completely adequate. These are all minor concerns compared to price. The 330 is a very comfortable aircraft but you can use www.seatguru.com to see how each airline configures the cabin.
My choice would depend on number of stops, adequate transfer times, and convenience of schedule, given fares that are comparable.
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Mar 9th, 2014, 10:59 AM
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Hi Southam and thanks for your reply.

I did begin the whole process using the ITA site. When I emailed it to several ta's they laughed. Really!! they said the prices change hourly and I'd never get anything under $7K; p/p in business.

So I began watching air via the airlines's websites. Constantly. The AirFrance price of $5,800 p/p was stuck in between several pairings between $7-9K p/p. I believe because of the transfers and the "older" seats in Biz class used. NOT sure as I only began business class last year after a very difficult back surgery. In order for me to travel over 20 hours I must go biz. Yes I could fly US to Europe 7 hours in Econ. comfort most likely; but not to Africa which adds another 12 hours.

I can fly direct from IAD on SAA, but I was thinking if I broke it up, I'd be able to walk around. Sitting is the worst thing for a fused back.

I don't have a clue why ITA shows prices that travel agents don't honor and I tried to call an airline with all the routing numbers etc. and they also gave me mumble jumble that they did not have those routings; but....for several thousand more, they could book me to Africa.

So for me the ITA website did nothing more than show me what flights went to my destination. The price they show meant nothing. OR if I found a price close to their quotes, there were 11-12 hr layovers in Nairobi ~~the worst airport ever, which again I do not want.

I'll keep plugging away. Another forum member told me to never fly a 330-200 run by KLM and that segment was 12 hours so I guess that deal just FLEW out the window...

Have to keep a sense of humor; I will find it somehow!! The safari is booked and I am determined to get there. Thanks again for checking your sources!
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Mar 9th, 2014, 11:29 AM
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moneyburns, I don't know whether you've had experience comparing the angled flat-bed seats with the true-flat ones. Some people swear that they can sleep/relax just as well in the angled ones. I've been on a dozen or so of each, and for me there's no comparison: I sleep comfortably and well on the true flats, and sleep poorly/fitfully on the angled ones. So much so that I've abandoned JAL's non-stop between Boston and Tokyo, preferring a connection that gives me a true-flat seat, even though that makes the trip at least 3-4 hours longer. But, it's very much a personal preference.

SA's seats are very good for sleeping. Another excellent true-flat seat is the one that Swiss offers on their flight to/from the States and to JNB. Unfortunately, their connections to JNB are terrible -- you arrive in Zurich in the morning, then leave for JNB around 10:30pm. And definitely don't take Swiss to NBO -- really ugly business seating. Also check out BA: their flat seats are very comfortable. Unfortunately, I believe they no longer serve Harare non-stop from London.

Finally, just to be sure, is Harare more convenient for your safari than Vic Falls?
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Mar 9th, 2014, 01:23 PM
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Thanks for response...Harare is where our guide is located; he has a plane and we head out with him to Mana Pools, Matusadona, and Hwange,Zimbawbe...no Vic Falls this go 'round; we were there years ago and once was enough for me!

I LOVED Swiss; flew them last Sept to Dar for a safari in Ruaha, Tz. I did check them out for this Sept; and, as as you said I'd go around my elbow to get to my thumb flying with them.

Even nicer with Swiss, we had the same FA on the outbound and also the return; he welcomed us as family coming back to see him. Sort of makes the money spent well worth it.

Good to hear SA is good for sleeping as most flights from East Coast leave late at night; therefore I am looking for true flat. Daytime would not be a deal buster. Thanks for your view on Angled; I don't believe Mr. MB would be happy and that would not start the safari out on a positive note. I know AF and KLM are retrofitting between now and next year, but doubt they'd be finished by Sept...and the layovers in AMS are 7, 11 or 23 hours. Crazy!

I think we will stick with SAA---very short layover in JNB and on to Harare with same; get in around 9pm and start the adventure the next morning!

I really appreciate the info you and Soutam provided; it relieves SOME of the anxiety of planning a trip!
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Mar 9th, 2014, 07:36 PM
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Since the AF/KL option has you transiting through both CDG and AMS, you'll have to go through both immigration and security at both airports since you're entering Schengen at CDG and exiting Schengen at AMS.

I also sleep much better on a flat bed vs lie flat.
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Mar 10th, 2014, 07:08 AM
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Hi Patty,

Thanks for that info; never thought of it..I just assumed I was "transiting".

I've gone with South African air. Straight shot; just hope the wine is decent! LONG flight.
I download books, magazines, old movies...anything to make me tired enough to sleep as I am so excited everytime I go to Africa!

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