Cancelled by COVID: Day 4

So, we’ve now made it across one continent, over an ocean to another, and down one more. This morning we arrive in Johannesburg!

The day has just begun, though, and by bedtime, we’ll have crossed another border.

Johannesburg:

On arrival, we would first need to clear immigration and customs. That is the most worrisome part of today’s schedule. We arrive mid-morning and need to be on the next flight in the early afternoon on a separate ticket.

A previous experience at this airport had us waiting in the queue for around three hours! But, other occasions had very minimal wait times, so it can be very difficult to predict.

I imagine we would race off the plane as quick as possible with fingers and legs crossed, as I invariably need to use the facilities moments after the final seatbelt sign goes on signaling our descent (not unlike Pavlov’s dog), then my first introduction to a country is learning their WC quirks.

If all went well, and we had extra time before the next flight, we would try to visit a lounge for second breakfast and maybe a shower. I’m not sure if we would have had access to the Aspire Lounge due to our previous flight with Swiss, but, if there were any possibility of accessing the SLOW lounge, I’d be all over it, as it is one of my all-time favourites.

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SLOW Lounge

Most likely, we would’ve had to use our AmEx Platinum’s included Priority Pass to access one of the other lounges, like the Bidvest, which is also quite nice.

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Bidvest Lounge

After stuffing ourselves and enjoying our first Appletisers of the trip, we were to board our flight on South African Airways’ A320 to Windhoek.

As COVID-19 progressed throughout the world, we looked at our options to get a refund for this flight. Early on, the flight had a schedule change. It wasn’t a big change, but it could have allowed us to cancel with no penalty. Again, we ran into difficulties trying to find a way to actually speak to the appropriate person to manage this. As this was happening, the airline itself had ceased operations and gone into liquidation, and the country had closed it’s borders until just before our flight date. I tried a number of different email addresses and got a variety of responses. Ultimately, we ended up with a voucher credit good for two years from the date of booking (in this case, it definitely does NOT pay to book early!).

After two hours, we would finally be in Windhoek! Time to pick up our rental car and look for baboons along the road as we head into town for some groceries to get us through the next few days.

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Roadside Baboons

I usually use AutoSlash to get a good rate and monitor prices for my vehicle rentals. Otherwise, I spend a ridiculous amount of time checking and cross-checking all possible discounts from the various offers I’m privy to through credit cards, loyalty programs, and even my old university Honour Society. In this case, Autoslash was the winner and my unpaid reservation for an SUV was easily cancelled.

We hadn’t yet booked a hotel in Windhoek, but I was debating between the Hilton (because points), and the tried and true Arebusch Travel Lodge (because of proximity to a good grocery store/mall with a pet store that sells catnip).

Arebusch Travel Lodge in 2016

Either way, the goal was to stock up, check in, then head for a beer and a bite at the famous Joe’s Beerhouse before packing it in for an early start the next morning.

Windhoek Beer

Windhoek Lager via Colin McCann

Finally:

Another very long day of travel, with part of it in economy class (gasp!) because we usually book the bones of the trip first and flesh out the smaller flights and other details later. In this case, the flight was only two hours and not worth wasting points on.

A lot of our trip is in the work of getting there with all the necessities, but we do try to add a little luxe where we can to enjoy ourselves along the way.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s road trip back to South Africa or click here to catch up on how we got to this point.

 

 

 

 

For referral links to American Express cards like the Bonvoy, Cobalt, Gold, or Platinum, please don’t hesitate to send me a message. These cards have contributed greatly to my travels and could do the same for you.

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