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Old 16.11.2020, 18:25
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Travel to South Africa

For anyone thinking of going there, as many do for the warmer climate come November, I finally got to go there last week. Below is a report I made for the Business Traveler Forum in case anyone is interested.

Mrs. LP drove me to a deserted Zurich airport. Only a few desks were open with less than a third being manned. Bit of a queue for security even for the premium lane but took no more than 5 minutes.

Straight to the lounge through an almost empty duty free shop and an empty concourse. All the shops, cafes and restaurants were closed.
Lounge in A was about half full, and they had set aside a section for F and Senators, but no-one checked who went to sit there. Before entering you had to disinfect your hands and they had set up a one way system in and out. Normal food and drink selection. I was there about 40 minutes before heading off to the gate.

Departure was from “D” as the “E” terminal was closed (as were all the other lounges in A).

During my walk I passed not a single person. Straight up to immigration and to the gate where boarding had started. Despite lanes for Business and Gold’s no-one seemed to take much notice and it was a general melee with some people distancing and many not. However, to travel to South Africa you needed a negative C19 test so i guess we were all Covid free??

And here treatment was the same for all – no matter class of travel.

Now the strange thing. A bus pulled up with LX288 on it, and we all had to board the bus. About 50 of us. We were all masked but impossible to social distance, though I stood by a seat and the door and stuck my bag in such a way only one person could stand behind me. I just wonder why Swiss, with all their commitment to hygiene etc did not provide 2 buses, or at least board us at a gate – after all there were plenty of empty gates available.

We then drove about 5 minutes to the plane and boarded via the stairs. I waited at the foot of the stairs till they were clear so I could just walk up and sit down. We all had to keep our masks on throughout the flight, and only remove them for eating and drinking. Normally I don’t eat on the flight, but as it was a 1650 departure and you could remove your mask, I took everything but did not touch it.

The flight had a total of 50 pax on a 340 seater 777 and while normally I look forward to an empty flight, this was very sad. The hostess told me on her last flight to New York, there we only 7 pax!!

I managed a few hours of sleep before landing at 4am (ugh) to a deserted JNB airport. I was among the first off and just before immigration was a port health official. He checked the C19 cert. and took the health declaration before allowing me to join the queue – of 5! From aircraft to exit took just 10 minutes – a record. The airport was empty, all restaurants were closed.

Back to the airport at 1015 for my 1110 flight with Safair. Health declaration presented and through security. No queue. I had priority boarding and there was a separate queue, so it was very fast. Safair allow you to pay to block the middle seat for R.750 which I did, but I think I was the only person who did so as the flight was full and I could see no empty middle seats. A large “Blocked Seat” sticker was fixed by the hostess to my middle seat.

It was my first time with Safair and I was impressed. More legroom than Kalula (now in business administration) and easy to book and keep the middle seat free. If and when Kalula fly again I’ll now fly Safair instead.
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