K&T Trip in Sept 2022
Our 8th? Tauck trip, but our first to Africa and will be our first international trip since Covid. No sense asking any Covid requirement questions. That will all change a dozen times before our trip. But I do have flight questions. In times past, it was cheaper to get your flights 330 days out. It appears that Qatar and KLM are similar in price. I'll probably choose Qatar because I am having a terrible time trying to even find flights on KLM. We live in KY so we could fly from any large city. I'm going crazy trying to figure which large city to fly from. Any thoughts on the best way to look? All Qatar flights appear to be a total of 28 hours. We will fly premium economy. AND, has anyone flown Qatar. How much difference in the Economy Comfort and the Economy Convenience? It appears that the difference is access to seats with more legroom. Thoughts?
CaraBethP - When I start my search for flights I start with Google flights because they search all airlines. I enter the parameters I want (eg. Business Class, 2 people, start/end city (or multiple cities depending on the tour), depart/return dates, etc.) and then do a search and see what is available for this Depart city. I then alter the Depart city and search again. I repeat this process for the possible departure cities (for me, living in Tucson - I start with Tucson as the departure city, but also check LA, Phoenix, SF, Seattle, Dallas, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, Houston, New York, Washington, Vancouver, Canada, and Toronto, Canada). Your list might be different.
Possible candidates quickly become apparent. I will track these Departure cities weekly, typically starting about 1 month before the booking window opens. Then when the booking window opens if there is anything that fits my criteria as an acceptable routing/price/etc. then I will book. When I book I will book through the airline site of the selected routing, not through Google flights. I feel more comfortable booking directly with the airline/partner that I'll be flying than through a third party site.
Thanks, Smiling Sam! I usually do that as well. When I did a Google flight search for our dates the flights it brought up were thousands of dollars different from what is on the Qatar site. So, they are not a lot of help right now, anyway. Thank you!
CaraBethP - When you did your Google Flights search and found an option you liked did it provide you the booking options/price at the bottom of the final search page. See the picture below where it says Book with American and lists the exact American flight numbers.
When you did this did your search say Book with Qatar and list the flight numbers? And then when you selected those same flights on the Qatar site, the prices were thousands different? Did you look at the Qatar site on the same day that you did the Google Flights search? If so, then that is something new that I haven't experienced before. I hope this is an exception and not the new rule.
CaraBeth…. Best wishes! We are on the 2022 K&T September 10 Tour. We will book through our TA but use Tauck Air. In this uncertain times we feel that is a more stress free option even if the numbers are higher. Our TA will wait till DEC or JAN to book us. We shall see what they offer. This is our seventh trip to Africa. For K&T we have always gone through Amsterdam with KL/DL. Good luck and keep us posted.
Our JULY trip to Africa will be our seventh. We would never fly KLM again now we have found Qatar air, there is just no comparison. We flew KLM the first two times to K and Y and then T, Zanzibar. When we flew K and T Rwanda in December 2019, it was with Qatar, booked again for our Botswana tour. See my thread on flying Qatar, even the economy seats look good.
We will do Tauck flights but I will tell them what flights I want. In years past I would wait until early January to book flights. I had booked great flights to Australia last year- ha! Right now the price from Miami to Kilimanjaro on Qatar is Econ/ $1036 for 2 ppl, Econ Convenience- $1282 for 2 ppl, Econ Comfort- $1968 for 2 people. Similar price Nairobi to Miami. We would prefer to fly out of Atlanta but that would have us flying on Sun, Sept. 18. All the flights to Kilimanjaro from Atlanta that day are some other airline flying for Qatar. I want all the luxury Qatar provides!! Question for @British - We have the Gift of Time overnight on Sept 20 and begin tour Sept 21. If we arrived an extra day early, on Sept 19, how hard would it to be to get from Kilimanjaro airport to Gran Melia Arusha. Looks like it's a good 50+ miles away. I don't suppose Tauck provides pickups an extra day early, do they? AND, is there a great deal of difference between Economy Comfort and Economy Convenience? I planned on Economy Comfort because it says you have access to seats with more leg room.
If you are staying at the tour hotel, Tauck will usually bring you a few days early. When we went on the Switzerland tour that began in Montreux, we went two days early, They picked us up in Geneva and brought us to Montreux. They use private transfers, so the day doesn't matter that much. Unless Africa is different, I think you will be able to get a transfer. You should ask.
Cara Beth, JRO is only30 mi. from the Gran Malia and as Kathy M said, since you are staying in the Tauck hotel, Tauck will provide the transfer if you are arriving early. You just need to make sure you provide your arrival info in the "arrival/return" section of "My Account".
Yes, as people say, Tauck pick you up from the airport when you arrive a day early as long as they know your flights at least three weeks in advance of the tour start day, they will do this for arriving up to three days early I believe. It’s good to have this pre tour time because you’ll be having all those per dawn wake up times for the morning safaris.
We are doing K & T next summer, and have booked business class using miles with NY as our gateway. Kenya Airways (KLM/Air France Flying Blue member and AMEX had 25% bonus on redemptions to Flying Blue when we booked) has a 15 hour direct flight JFK to Kenya on the 787 Dreamliner, with a 1 hour flight after layover to Tanzania. Post trip, we are heading to Amsterdam for a few days, and there are late evening flights after trip ends available, one on Kenya Airways and another on KLM. We found the best business class points redemption on the Kenya Airways flights. Return from Amsterdam then on United early morning flight to EWR on a 787 Dreamliner with Polaris setup, with a decent redemption value.
You are probably aware of this, but there are two “Polaris” setups. One is no different from the standard business class setup. The other is your own ‘mini-cabin’.
We are doing our first Africa trip (K&T) in August. We booked air thru Tauck and considered Qatar vs KLM. From Chicago, the KLM schedule was more convenient for us even though the business class fares were higher. After postponing this trip twice due to the pandemic, we are really looking forward to going!
@Sealord - Agreed and thank you for the note. We booked a flight on the 787-10 Dreamliner which has the 11 rows in 1-2-1 configuration with 44 business class seats - that is the real product with the private pod. 179K miles combined for two tickets seemed like a decent deal for that product which also includes access to the Polaris lounge.
Tauck had us fly Philly, Chicago, Amsterdam, Tanzania on our very first time to Africa because we knew no better. Of course it was on economy back then. We were not happy to discover that we could have flown Philly, Amsterdam Tanzania, we were green in those days. Be sure to pack extra clothing in your carry on became it is very common for your luggage to be delayed for twenty four hours on those flights. It happened to us the first time, the staff at the hotel
were used to it and looked for our luggage the following day when they collected the next lot of passengers, there is only one flight to Tanzania a day. The next time we went to Tanzania, the same thing happened to some of the people on that tour too. I believe we flew premium economy that time.
We have an issue with ongoing flights from Amsterdam airport. They don’t open up the gate area until just before the flight, so there is no where to sit and wait. They of course, have great extra security checks on your luggage at the gate too, so you do need to be in the area early.
Anyone know about the lounges in Doha Airport? I find info online saying there is a lounge specifically for Qatar passengers. and, there are other lounges as well. My questions are- Is it comfortable enough where you can take a snooze? Can you reserve in advance? I also have seen on the Qatar site that they offer hotel rooms "for as low as $14." Anyone know anything about that? I don't think that's a good option for us because there are so many hoops to jump through nowadays who knows what you would have to do to leave the airport, stay at a hotel, then return to the airport. Probably 4 Covid tests and a strip search.
The business class Lounge at Doha is absolute amazing. They have private little enclosed areas where it is quiet and you can relax. If you go back a few days on the forum, you can see my post that is headed something like flying Qatar. I give a link to a twenty minute video that includes lots of video of the lounge.
There is no need to reserve as far I know. It’s huge. The water feature alone is like a dull size swimming pool.
We flew Chicago to Doha to Arusha in 2019. We stayed in the airport hotel in Doha. It is nice nothing special but it is convenient. I think we were still inside the security bubble, Qatar held our luggage for the flight the next morning to Arusha.
The Business Class lounge is amazing as British pointed out. We had a light snack at night. Jet lagged!
Get to the lounge early the next morning for breakfast, The clients just sit there after their breakfast while waiting for their flight (could be hours) and don't clear out to allow others to sit down at a table. There was plenty of room in the huge lounge to sit, but they didn't seem to care.
You can contact Qatar customer service to answer your questions.
@British I watched the video. Thank you! We plan to fly Economy Comfort. But I found that you can purchase entry into the Qatar lounge. Thanks so much!
CaraBeth, I forgot you were looking at economy plus, but so glad to know you can purchase passes. Could you say how much they are? We are planning to treat the family to the Bridges Africa tour in a couple of years, but Mr B draws the line at paying for business class for their flights…he says he doesn’t think it’s fair to subject other business class passengers to kids. I still think about the time we were returning to England from Disney Florida many years ago, in economy when he was hoping to catch some sleep and triplet toddlers were right behind us!
Booking with Qatar- I mentioned that I am a micromanager. I am using Pavlus travel and they are awesome, but I've done our travel plans for so many years I have my nose in every detail. Also, if you book a travel package with them and allow them to make your flight arrangements, you get a rebate. For us it's $1755. Tell them I sent you! As for Qatar- our agent called today and said they had been trying to work with Qtar to find our where/what Economy Comfort is. Like me they had been unable to find any sort of diagram.
I called (877) 777-2827. I had to wait about 5 minutes but I spoke with an agent. Anyway, Economy classic- you have to pay for a seat assignment and the seating for economy classic is only in whatever section of the airplane no one wants to sit in. I asked what is the difference between Economy Convenience and Economy Comfort. He said that Economy Convenience has standard seating and you have to pay for preferred seating. I asked how much do you have to pay. He said "I cannot tell you until you give me your schedule. When I get into the booking I can tell you what a preferred seat would cost." He said Economy Comfort is in the front? and that seating was eligible for preferred seating. That didn't tell me a lot, but Pavlus is working on it. I also asked about the lounge. He again told me he could make reservations but couldn't tell me the price until he saw the flights. So, I'll update you all on the story with Qatar.
I am on this trip for October 15, 2022. I, too, use Pavlus and have been very happy with them and recommend Mindy. I have been looking at the Qatar flights out of Boston but don't want to make arrangements just yet as I'd like to add some time in Zanzibar after the trip to sit on a beach and just relax. I've been looking at various options but some of the rates aren't available yet so I will wait a bit longer.