Saturday, June 1, 2013

South African Airways: Entertainment Before, During and After the Flight

Saturday afternoon I flew from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to Cape Town on South African Airways Flight 347, to attend the International Air Transport Association Annual General Meeting. I was pretty sure it would be an on-time flight since Monwabisi Kalawa, the airline's new chief executive was on the plane. Of course he was in business class and I was back, way back in seat 27F.  

What I did not know was what a great vantage point that seat would give me for all the goings-on before, during and after we landed in Cape Town. Here are some of the highlights with photos to match: 
We started off in need of a tire change.

While that was going on, baggage handlers were loading the animals in the hold. We may be in safari country, but the critters were the ordinary, domestic variety - cats and dogs from what I could tell. 

I thought for a moment that perhaps the bird strike volunteers were headed home for the weekend.

The sign we passed on arrival at Tambo Airport.
I was enjoying the colorful livery of airlines like and Kulula ...

when what should touch down on the runway but an Air Zimbabwe Airbus A320! Did I count this airline out too soon? Maybe so. It's a shadow of its former self, but it started flying domestically and to Johannesburg in April of this year. 

Well, my head was swinging around like a bobble-head taking in all this activity, when I noticed the man a few rows ahead of me oblivious to it all, reading the newspaper. Can you see the headline of the story he was reading? I was glad I didn't check my bag. 

Check out the headline! Some story to read on an airplane.
Somewhere approaching our destination, a fantastic sliver of clear sky allowed the setting sun to blaze through  - creating a sensational contrast between layers of clouds above and below the horizon.

I would have called that an excellent flight right there, but more fun was in store for us on landing. Cross winds made it a rocking time right down to the pavement - then we slalomed across a very wet runway while I applied the brakes with both feet along with every other passenger as we all successfully assisted the flight crew in bringing our Boeing 737 to a halt.   

Now, from my hotel in downtown Cape Town, I can watch the lightning and hear the wind and thunder of a winter storm.  Its dramatic, yep, but its going to take a lot of fireworks to top the excitement I've already had just getting here.
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