Just like a little child whose little dream comes true, I am a grown up man whose “big” dream comes true. To some, this may not be a dream at all. It’s just a trivial stuff. But for me, it is something. Something worth remembering and savoring.
10. South African Airways to Johannesburg. The first time with SAA was a short domestic hop from Cape Town to JNB and JNB to Richard’s Bay on the eastern seabord. After a couple of flights with this airline, I knew I would want to experience a long haul with them. Being with this flight reminds me of the good memories I had while travelling around South Africa. SAA FAs are not necessarily the nicest FAs around. In fact, I sensed that some in my flights do not love what they are doing. But still….
Chances: Quite likely. SAA flies the HKG-JNB route using its A340. When flying to southern Africa, this can be a good option rather than flying all the way to the Middle East via EK or QR. SAA also flies to SIN but this is codeshared with SQ which uses its long haul B772 product. So technically, it’s a SQ flight, which does not count.
This came true last June 27, during a red-eye SA287 flight from Hong Kong to Johannesburg. It’s a long flight – almost 13 hours. The product was an Airbus 340-300. The seats are showing signs of aging. I believe they’re long overdue for refurbishment. The IFE wasn’t something to fancy at.
Food was fine. And as a signature of SAA, wines are served on demand. In small bottle servings, which I believe is quarter of a liter, or maybe less. I decided not to take any. I want to be sober during this flight.
The FA who served our cabin was not the best I have seen. There were a bunch of passengers who can speak almost nil English. Not even “Yes” or “No.” I can see the exasperation of the FA. I don’t think he handled the situation nicely. He ended up treating everybody in the cabin like highschoolers heading for a field trip. I was not very concerned.
We were puzzled about the nationality of the passengers. I was guessing Nepal. Judging from their skin tone and eyes. (Never been to Nepal by the way)
Couple of hours before touchdown, the fine young lady beside me started to chat with me. She’s Portuguese transitting in Jo’burg onward to Sau Paulo. She’s a young businesswoman who had moved to China few years back. An interesting discussion made time fly.
We touched down at about 6am. Some of the passengers, probably about half, are transitting onward elsewhere. Before getting off the plane, I couldn’t help myself but find out what are the nationality of the bunch of passengers across my seat. One of them showed me his ID. His name has “Nguyen” on it. Then they are Vietnamese. Their faces brigthened when somebody finally figured out their nationality!!!
Come immigration, I met another bunch of passengers – these time Filipinos. They’re travelling to Cape Town, but I believe they will be hitting the road afterwards, instead of flying to Cape Town. They should have taken Singapore Airlines which flies direct to CPT from SIN. They are the typical shy country boys who are embarking to this land of nowhere called Africa to make money. Some interesting conversations ensued before we finally bid goodbye. I hope we had more time.
After clearing immigration and getting my luggage, I headed to the exit right away. Then the quarantine/customs officer intercepted me and requested for my bag to be opened. I told him I got some dried fruits for my friends in Jo’burg. He said I am not allowed to bring in those stuff. He pointed to the row of huge bins. I almost fainted. But after several minutes of clarifications, he agreed to let me go. It turns out that the restrictions are for fresh fruits. Talk about inefficiency. How can he do this to me? I have worked for the import verification and product conformity assessment programmes before. I should know about these regulations.
Well, all is well that ends well. I even offered him one pack of the dried mangoes. He agreed almost instantly.
Then I moved out of the place quickly, not wanting anything to delay my exit. Then I have spotted two familiar faces. Peter and Claudia! Then I told myself…”welcome back to South Africa!” All the hassles seem to have disappeared. I felt like I’m coming back home. Despite the chilly climate, I felt warmly welcomed by the friends in this part of world.
South African Airways A340-300 from HKG to JNB
The usual gate neighbor…KLM to Amsterdam
I am not sure which of these dream flights will come true next…
9. Air France flight to and from CDG.
8. Emirates Boeing 77L to Houston.
7. Garuda Airlines to anywhere.
6. Lufthansa A380 to Frankfurt.
5. Singapore Airlines A380 to Sydney.
4. Emirates on its A380 C-Class.
3. Korean Air A380 to JFK and HKG.
2. Qatar Airways B787 to London.
1. Turkish Airlines to Istanbul.
Whichever does…the wishing continues.