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Riding the buses » Memorable moments, South Africa, Travel tips » How NOT to fly to South Africa

How NOT to fly to South Africa

How NOT to fly to South AfricaCraig Reinhardus missed his flight to South Africa and almost missed a safari. His family would not have been pleased!

I was doing shift work in one of the finest hotels in Canada and was a little confused about “a.m.” and “p.m.”. Like when you start work at 11 p.m. you’re not sure if 12:30 is morning or night (we tend not to use the 24 hour clock here in Canada). When I got off my shift I called my travel agent to check that everything was fine and he said, “Your flight out of Calgary left 10 hours ago.”

I can tell you right now that a sinking feeling was coming on because I’d have to call my dad. My dad and I were going on a safari in South Africa (and in fact he was paying for it) and he would not be pleased. Anyway, I finally called him and he snapped and I got all upset. But eventually it was all sorted out for $150. It was an ordeal and it ended up taking all day and all the next night to get it resolved.

I left for the Calgary airport in a snowstorm but I made sure I had lots of time. I caught the flight to Toronto and then on to JFK International Airport in New York. The plane circled and circled and finally we were told we couldn’t land because of fog and had to return to Toronto. My anxiety level was going through the roof.  

About 30 minutes after landing in Toronto, I caught another flight back to JFK but after circling and circling the pilot announced we couldn’t land at JFK but he would try Newark. My flight to South Africa was in less than three hours, which was not good.

We did manage to land at Newark and it was so foggy that I couldn’t see the ground until we were on it. It was now less than two hours until my flight and it is at least a 40 minute taxi ride from Newark to JFK. Two other passengers agreed to share a taxi with me and I got to JFK 30 minutes before my flight.

They let me on the plane (actually they were waiting for me because the plane was almost empty). I had four seats to myself. Someone offered to buy me a beer and I said I’d just lie down until they brought it. When I woke up I asked this guy if we’d left yet and he said, “Yes, a few hours ago”.  

I slept all the way to Johannesburg except when they served meals. I always wanted them to wake me up for the meals. It was a fine flight.

© Riding the buses 2011

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