I'm looking at making my flight arrangments to Jo'burg for July 2010. This world cup tournament seems to be making things challenging. The frequent flyer miles I was planning on using won't be honored during that time on South African Airways.
So I've been researching airline ratings and fares. I've come up with a $2200 fare to Johannesburg from Houston on Qatar Airlines. It is routed through Doha, Qatar. The airline receives excellent reviews. However at the danger of appearing an ugly American, I've got my concerns using a middle eastern airline.
Has anyone had any experience with this airline?
I am not familiar with Qatar Airlines although I can say that some of these Middle Eastern airlines are quite nice, new planes, good service... $2,200 seems like a good airfare for that time of the year. There are two things that you need to think about, one is book your flight very early (like now) because as you mentioned the World Cup is making it very difficult to get flights... The other is that you need to look into the airline rules and regulations for the transport of firearms as well as the laws of the countries that you will have layovers in...
It now looks like we're going to fly with British Airways through London. I'm hearing that London is a bit more challenging to flying with rifles, but the good folks over at Gracy Travel seem to have that down.
The biggest reason for going BA is they have a direct flight from Phoenix to London, removing an east coast or midwest flight. The other reason is there is actually a pretty healthy layover in London. I view this as a positive on the outgoing leg. If my flight is even several hours late leaving Phx, I should still easily be able to make the London to Jo'burg flight.
I am leaving New Zealand in several days to work my way towards South Africa for a hunt with Kevin Thomas Safaris.
My flight plan takes from from:
On my return I'm booked:
Arusha <----stopping for a few days
then onwards for work before returning to NZ
I'm booked though Emirates from NZ to Dubai and back (Emirates has an excellent reputation...have flown them before...new aircraft fleet, great experience overall). I've done a couple dozen very long haul trips before and I believe Emirates ranks up there with Air New Zealand and Qantas.
Most of my African flights are Kenya Airways (except for the J'berg to Port Elizabeth and back being SAA). Kenya Airways looks to have one of the newest fleets in the region, possibly the world...but they seem to have had some industrial strike action in the recent past that could result in scheduling issues.
Kenya Airways just cancelled my flight from Dubai to Nairobi, which would have stuffed up the whole trip.
They were great to deal with, and I was fortunate enough to rebook on a cheap Qatar Airlines flight from Dubai-Doha-Nairobi for which Kenya Airways is going to partially/fully credit me.
With so many flight segments, travel is the biggest risk of trip compromise for me.
The funny/scary thing is the only other possible option offered to get around the cancelled flight was a Qatar Airlines flight transiting through Libya...no thanks!
If Qatar Airlines in the air is anything like the quick, easy, efficient, and cheap experience I had booking through them, then I should be OK.
I hope to report back good news upon my return.
Have flown them numerous times. Efficient friendly service; English accents in the cockpit; excellent food and wine; and older movies. I would have no concerns.