I had two big reservations about our Kenya Safari.
- Could I stand all the air travel?
- Could I stand the other tourists in our group?
Our itinerary from our home in southwest Florida was: Tampa, Philadelphia, London, Nairobi. Two hours to the Tampa airport from our house, 24 hours on various airplanes and layovers in airports. A total of thirty hours of travel!
Gate 1 Travel booked us on American Airlines for the U.S. portion of our travel and then we were handed off to British Airways for the balance.
Nancy has no trouble sleeping on planes. She is often dozing before the plane leaves the gate. I’m not so lucky. I’m 6′ 5″ and 250 lbs. I just can’t get comfortable sitting in an “economy” seat.
I loaded up my phone with podcasts, bought an Amazon Fire tablet with audiobooks and games that didn’t require WiFi. I had battery backups to last 24 hours.
Airports have done a real service to customers by providing seats with USB power and 110 voltage to recharge things during layovers.
The plane from Tampa to Philadelphia was an Airbus 320. The seats were OK and the entertainment screen was a decent size and high resolution. Since airlines seem to be intent on making the customer experience as miserable as possible, I expect the entertainment screens will disappear soon.
The seats were OK. I jinxed us by commenting: “If I have this much room all the way, I think I can make it.” I had about three inches between my knees and the seat in front of me. Doable. Even if the seat was reclined.
Yeah, didn’t happen.
The British Airways segments were all Boeing 474’s. “Jumbo Jets” they used to be called. A plane that has been in the air 50 years. I suspect the planes we were on were among the first to fly. Now they are “Cattle Cars” for economy class passengers. I wasn’t all that impressed with the Club World upgrade seats. I was skeptical that I could sleep even in those expensive alternatives.
And the entertainment screens were about 5 inches across – about the size of my Amazon Fire tablet at about half the screen resolution. I soon discovered that these screens fell right in the area where my vision with glasses is poor. I needed my computer glasses – at home on my desk.
I wear hearing aids. I knew that putting earbuds in with aids probably wouldn’t work, so I packed some old headphones that lay on top of the ear. Not the fancy new over the ear headphones that everyone else had… so they didn’t block out the engine noise. Closed captioning was an option for the first run movies, but it was so small – I couldn’t read it! ARGH. The hearing problem kiboshed my audiobook and podcast options. With the volume set as high possible, I just couldn’t understand.
My entertainment for 30 hours +/- of flying consisted of — staring at things. Nancy dozing, the people around me dozing or watching movies/television programs, the back of the seat, the flight attendants. A word about the British Airways flight attendants. They were very nice, helpful and patient. From Philadelphia to Heathrow, the bulk of the crew were “proper” english gentlemen. No easy smiles, but efficient. From Heathrow, we had mostly females who had easy smiles and were pleasant as well as efficient – even while passengers stood in the aisles or galley mid-flight.
The true torture was the flight duration timer on the screen. At about 5 hours before landing on the last leg to Nairobi, I honestly for a moment understood how a passenger could go temporarily insane. Luckily, I got involved in one of the games on the Fire tablet and the next time I looked, It was 4 hours and 30 minutes. And then a meal came and after that it was 4 hours and 5 minutes. From then on, it was little by little I maintained my sanity until landing. But it was close.
We toyed with the idea of spending a day in London to break up the trip. A well experience world traveler suggested that the best idea was to do the trip as planned, but add an extra day at our destination to recover. We did – and it was excellent advice. I may not have made it from London to Nairobi otherwise.
After the thirty minutes into our first game drive on the third day in Kenya we looked at each other and said “It was worth it.”
The answer to Question 1 is “yes.”
The answer to Question 2 is coming soon.
Next: what we found in Nairobi Kenya.
Book by May 31, 2019 and save $250 per person off our regular price on this Kenya Safari Exploration and applicable extensions. Promotion is not valid on existing reservations or combinable with any other promotions. To redeem the discounted savings, use promotional code MARK250 at the time of booking. Click here to book or call 877-900-9777 to speak with one of our reservation specialists.