The Horror, the Horror II

Johannesburg Travel Blog

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And so, the battle of luggage retrieval needed to be waged.

At the point at which I'd checked in - all those ages back in Cape Town - my luggage had been booked through to Singapore. The reason for Singapore being that I was waitlisted for an earlier flight, and confirmed for a later one, and hoped to arrange my luggage, and my, simultaneous arrival in Sydney.

Ho ho ho.

That was before the nightmare began.

Still, once I managed to persuade some kindly ACSA lady to allow me the wrong way into International Arrivals in OR Tambo, and some patient SAA supervisor to track down the itinerant luggage, it was well after sunset. Michelle - bless! - had found a guest house which had room! And so, a few calls later, I was overjoyed to be making my way to Kempton Park, to a bed, a shower, somewhere to brush my teeth.

And then - darkness! The whole area - including the airport - plunged into darkness.

Starving, we drove round and round looking for somewhere, anywhere, that had power, could supply food, even "food". Eventually landing up at Festival Mall, finding a fish and chip shop, my hypoglycaemia subsided, and I could manage a coherent sentence once more. Heading off to the guest house, our relief was palpable as the power surged back and coffee, a hot shower, and a warm room became possible.

That night, I slept like the dead.

Net morning, after a hearty breakfast, I was in the check-in queue for the Singapore flight. Name down on the standby list, I went off to find somewhere to sit, when Michelle phoned with news of space on the JNB - SYD SAA flight! Just as well, as a few hours later I was horded in a holding pen with two dozen other disappointed people whom Singapore Airlines could also not accommodate on the flight. All bounced from the previous day's delays. Booked up for the rest of the week, it wasn't looking good, so I went off to the SAA counter to get sorted there.

And, with help from Michelle, I was soon checking in to fly off to Sydney.

Triple security checks followed.

And the horror of being seated behind *five* squalling babies.

But by that stage, so grateful was I to be going somewhere that I couldn't have cared if they'd seated me net to Hendrik Verwoerd. Maybe.

Delays as passengers boarded late, cargo needed offloading, and clearance was sought for take-off, but finally we were airborne, and that wonderful G-Force moment kicked in and the ground sank away below us. Off, at last!
elnaerasmus says:
This really sounds horrible.
Posted on: Sep 17, 2007
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If it were funny, it might pass as a Comedy of Errors. As it stood, it was more tragedy than farce. From the start - the delays in booking, the trouble amassing the great pile of documents the Ozzies require, the delayed issuing of the visa that led to the rescheduling of flights, the last minute after-hours couriering of the passport - it was a touch-and-go business. Still, arriving at Cape Town airport in good time, I was in good spirits.

Which were very soon to be dashed. Firstly, my flight was quietly cancelled and I was booked onto a later flight, and told of a delay - the flight would leave at 11, and arrive minutes before the connecting flight to Singapore was due to leave. The SAA check-in guy assured me they'd hold the flight - he'd been in touch with Singapore Airlines - and that I should go to International Departures to the Singapore desk and ask them for a boarding pass, to save time. My luggage was booke straight through to Singapore, so I wouldn't have to worry about that. Off I went.

Anyone who's been to Cape Town International Airport recently will know what a disaster area it is. Large scale construction is still underway - will it ever stop - and it just gets worse and worse. Moving from domestic to international terminals requires the skills of a Rambo or a Terminator. Still, once I got there, I discovered there was no "Singapore Airlines desk", merely a couple of staff checking people in for the direct flight I'd been unable to get onto, and they couldn't issue boarding passes except for their own flight. Back to domestic.

Where it soon became obvious that no flights were going anywhere, and bodies piled up way beyond the health and safety limits, with no floorspace left to walk on. Emergency personnel struggled to get to passengers needing their care, and information was scant and out of date. Tempers frayed. Toilet queues lengthened, abetted by the free coffee announced around midday. When flights finally left it was a stampede.

Welcome to Jozi. Running to the flight I was told they'd hold, I found it long gone. Now, if Cape Town airport is an obstacle course, OR Tambo in Johannesburg is like an obstacle course on steroids! Orienteering rather than cross country running is the order of the day - and the distance is like that between Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 at Heathrow. Without the train. Or the travelators. Or the shelter - Jozi had been blanketed in snow, and the temperature was around 4 degrees Celsius.

Singapore Airlines were friendly, but not able to help much beyond waitlisting me for today's flight. They really didn't deserve the flood of tears they got as my hypoglycaemia - nothing to eat, and only a few sips of water all day - got the better of me. Trying to track down my luggage was another performance. Luckily Michelle stepped in and found me somewhere to stay - temperatures plummeted below zero and a power outage took down a huge area.

(to be continued - about to run out of wifi credit!)

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