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Trip Index (what we have published so far):
South African Premium Lounge Baobab Review Johannesburg Airport (JNB)
The trip from Dakar to Marrakech is just about 1,300 miles, but with few airlines flying this route, I could not find anything less than $600. What's great is that United.com lets you redeem for this route on TAP Portugal for an intra-African price (17,500 miles) even though you go through Europe (Lisbon). Lisbon is as close to the 'Africa zone' as it gets, but still I feel that is very generous.
TAP Portugal had cancelled my original flight and changed their schedule to only 2 flights per week for the winter flight plan (in summer they fly up to six times a week).
I finally found availability for my new set of flights and the United agents made the change without hesitation and free of charge!
Anyway, Dakar Airport is easily one of the most chaotic airports I have ever seen. It easily beats Bombay or New Delhi (especially since both have new international terminals). You will certainly be approached, pushed around and hassled by hundreds of touts. Oh my gosh.
I managed to find the TAP Portugal Business Class counter. Before you even get there, they check your passport - fair enough, I thought.
Check-in itself was very friendly, quick and all in English.
Once you leave the check-in counter, your passport is scanned again (for what?) and once you go through security it is checked again (obviously). The security check is super lax so I don't think they would discover anything anyway with this setup and attitude.
The Premium passenger lounge was surprisingly comfy - very old school, but with tons of leather sofas. The alcohol served was nice, as was the view toward the runway (although there's not a lot of planes to see at Dakar Airport). However, the WiFi is completely useless (which was a typical problem for me almost everywhere in Senegal).
The inbound aircraft was a bit late and so boarding started later. Now this boarding process beat my record for the most crazy ever. There was a priority line which was obviously completely ignored. There was pushing and shoving and this was before the bus was even ready or open. My passport was scanned once again by another person and this process made it even slower to get boarding going. Some of the locals started getting angry. Frankly I was so sleepy (it was 2AM) that I could not understand much anymore.
We got onto the bus, then the pushing and shoving with huge bags just kept going inside the plane. And it took forever - the A321 holds up to 200 passengers and no seat was left unoccupied on this flight.
I can't say much about the flight to Lisbon itself, since I fell asleep way before take off and woke up only once we touched down hard on the left wheel in Portugal
After my layover, which I used for a photo tour of Lisbon
, I went back to the airport. After a quick visit to the TAP Premium Lounge
, I boarded my flight to Marrakech.
This flight was just 30% full, so everybody had a whole row to themselves - great for me and my sleep deprivation.
The Airbus was brand new and in a very clean condition.
Immigration at the empty airport was easy and so was getting the bus downtown for $3. I found Marrakech to be almost 'first world' by African standards.
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