Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kristina is Travelling in Africa during May 2008

I'm again travelling to Africa departing May 1st on NW Airlines via Amsterdam to Johannesburg. I will attend a travel trade conference in Durban, South Africa and visit Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. I will be open for business again on June 5th. While I'm in Africa, I will post to this blog whenever possible.

Here's my itinerary:
1-May dep SEA NW34 at 1:00pm
2-May dep AMS KL591 arrive JNB at 9:10pm
Stay at Aftonio Guest House in Johannesburg
3-May dep JNB SA76 at 1:20pm arrive Windhoek Namibia at 2:20pm, stay at The Elegant B&B, Windhoek
4-May fly on a small charter to Onguma Tented Camp, Etosha NP
5-May fly on to Okahirongo Elephant Lodge, Kaokoland
6-May fly on to Mowani Mountain Camp, Damaraland
7-May fly via Swakopmund to Wolvedans Dunes Lodge, NamibRand for 2 nights
9-May return to Windhoek, fly SA75 at 12:50pm to JNB and switch to BA6221 at 6pm arrive Durban at 7:10pm
Stay at Protea Umhlanga Hotel in Durban for 3 nights while attending the Indaba Travel Trade show
12-May Road Transfer from Durban to Phinda, Stay at Phinda Mountain Lodge
13-May Stay at CC Africa's Phinda Forest Lodge
14-May fly by charter flight from Phinda to Malelane and Transfer from Malelane to Lukimbi Lodge for 2 nights
16-May Road Transfer from Lukimbi to Mala Mala for 3 nights, Sabi Sands in Kruger NP
19-May Road Transfer from Mala Mala to Idube private concession, Sabi Sands, Kruger NP for 2 nights
21-May Road Transfer by Idube to Exeter Dulini private Lodge, CC Africa
22-May Road Transfer Dulini to Exeter River Lodge, CC Africa, Kruger NP
23-May fly back to Joburg via Federal Air at 1:30pm - arrive at 3pm, stay at Aftonio Guest House again, Tom departs Seattle NW 34 at 1pm
24-May Cullinan Diamond Mine tour; Stay at D'Oreale Grande Hotel with Tom
25-May depart JNB for Maun, Botswana on BP212 at 10:00 am, Stay at Ker & Downey's newly renovated Okuti Camp, Moremi GR, Okavango Delta for 2 nights
27-May embark for 3 nights on a Luxury Mobile Safari with Unchartered Africa Safari Company
30-May stay at Jack's Camp in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in the Kalahari for 3 nights
2-Jun fly back to Johannesburg from Maun and board KL592 at 11:30pm for Amsterdam
3-Jun arrive AMS and change to NW33 arrive SEA at 2:10pm, Arrive Home

U.S. Ambassador Encourages Resumption of Travel to Kenya

The U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Michael E. Ranneberger, has addressed an open letter to American travelers advising them to visit Kenya after the establishment of the new Grand Coalition government that followed post-election turmoil this past December.
“I can report that there have been positive developments that are opening up the economic climate and making Kenya once again the perfect locale for business and tourism," he wrote. "The country’s rival political camps reached a landmark power-sharing agreement on February 28, and Parliament acted quickly to codify this through a constitutional amendment. President Kibaki and the Honorable Raila Odinga—now prime minister—are working closely together to forge this new coalition of parties in a new spirit of goodwill and unity.”
Approximately 102,000 Americans visited Kenya in 2007.

Updates from the Friendly Skies

American Airlines, including American Eagle will start charging $25.00 for that second checked bag on May 12. JetBlue is charging $20.00. United, US Airways, Continental, Air Canada, Delta and Northwest are already charging $25 for the second bag. Alaska & Horizon will start charging $25 this summer. Spirit Airlines charge $10 for each bag/no free bag at all. The airlines are raising fares also at the moment up to $110.00 roundtrip. Ticket change fees are also up from $100.00 to $150.00 and calling your airline will also cost you more from now on.

A new rule to compensate passengers who are denied boarding because of an oversell by the airlines goes into effect next month. If you are involuntarily bumped you will/should receive up to $400 if you are rescheduled to arrive at your destination within two hours of your original arrival time or four hours for international flights, and up to $800 if you are not rerouted within that time frame. Look for the airlines to redefine the definition of “denied boarding”.

The airline dilemma as I see it: 5 airlines, Aloha, ATA, Eos, Maxjet, Skybus and Nationwide (in South Africa) have gone out of business recently and mergers between the big ones, Delta & Northwest, United and Continental or USAir are looming, fuel costs are sky-rocketing, so expect higher prices and less space available in the crowded skies. The regional airlines are struggling too. With charges for snacks, earphones, alcoholic drinks, the second checked bag, preferable aisle and window seats, look for the airlines to start charging for early boarding to make sure your carry-ons find space in the overhead etc. This is annoying of course especially when getting less legroom, no pillows or blankets or magazines, but who said the airlines should not be allowed to make a profit? I want them to be profitable so they maintain their planes here at home and get us to our destination safely and with our checked luggage and on-time. What happened to the friendly skies? You tell me!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Passport Rules Delayed

ALL PERSONS traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.

The following summarizes information available on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.

CURRENTLY: U.S. citizens need to present either (a) a passport, passport card (available in spring 2008), or WHTI-compliant document; or (b) a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.
LATER:On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or WHTI-compliant document.
Note: The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.

U.S. Passport: U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air, land or sea between the U.S. and the aforementioned Western Hemisphere countries.

The Passport Card: U.S. citizens may begin applying in advance for this new, limited-use, wallet-size passport card beginning February 1, 2008. We expect cards will be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008. When available it will only be valid for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region, and Bermuda.

WHTI-Compliant Travel Documents for U.S. citizen travel via land or sea, as of January 31, 2008:

  • Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
  • State Issued Enhanced Driver’s License (when available)
  • Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available)
  • U.S. Military Identification with Military Travel Orders
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business
  • Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card
  • Form I-872 American Indian Card
For further information see U.S. Customs and Border protection.