As an update to the below post, the testing landscape has improved. Currently eMed is offering remote, supervised antigen testing which can be used for both travel to the United Kingdom and when returning to the United States.
Much has changed since August 1984 when my brother and I started PerryGolf. Of all the changes – new golf courses, hotels, airline options and service improvements – the one which has the greatest ongoing impact to our clients, is the booking window.
I have long held the view that the first 15 minutes is the most important time period when you arrive at a hotel as it starts to define your experience. The same can often be said when you arrive at a destination – there is nothing worse than a long wait for a few overworked, immigration officers.
Our arrival into Jo’burg mirrored that of all our clients with your name on a sign at the top of the jet bridge. Regardless of how well-traveled you are, that simple interaction removes so much anxiety…you are with a local. Movement through an airport with a friendly face and local connection removes the needs for the reading of signage. Check-in for the
domestic flight and access to a lounge facility is the next step. All went
Arrival into George Airport was similarly easy. The driver has a sign outside baggage claim and 10 minutes later we are checking into the Manor House at Fancourt.
To be clear, Fancourt is a wonderful resort, but the Manor House is 18 suites with exceptional service inside that environment. First Class within a premium experience. Our group of 15 couples had virtual exclusive use and the camaraderie from the first evening was palpable…like-minded has never been a truer expression! Dinner, drinks, laughs, comparing notes and clubs, overlapping friends…it was a memorable first evening and set the tone for the next 12 days.
The next morning, golf was thoughtfully arranged at noon, golf carts to the front door of The Manor House and off we go with sunny skies and 72 degrees, light breeze.
I am probably an oddball, for I enjoy long haul air travel. I enjoy the experience and the excitement – and for the most part, I try to build an interesting flight into the trip. For me, it is more than getting there and back. On this occasion, I booked British Airways Club World (with points) on the outbound, and Qatar Q Suites on the return flights.
While British Airways is
fairly pedestrian but very dependable, my plan was to use that as a backstop in
the hope Lufthansa First Class (with points) became available – they release
these seats 14 days before travel – but alas, that did not occur, nor did any
Emirates or Etihad award space open on my day of travel.
That being said, it is
my first British Airways A380 flight – as much as I enjoy upstairs on the B747
(row 62 or 64), it did not come close to comparing.
I am looking forward to trying the new Club Suites from British Airways on another trip, but the current, dated Club World ying-yang configuration at the rear of a cabin is fine, where the window passenger has free access to the aisle, although I find the aisle seat has virtually no privacy.
The perception is that trips to South Africa are long…they are. While SAA and Delta offer nonstop service from the USA to Jo’burg, the flight times and our schedule did not match up to save us time, hence the journey via Europe is just fine. A day room at the Sofitel (Terminal 5) and BA First Class lounge (Emerald OneWorld Status) makes the journey that bit shorter.
My other rationale for this one-way routing was to try Qatar Q Suites on the homeward journey via Doha. While Qatar is notorious for changing equipment, their old, reverse herringbone Business Class seat on an A350 is very good (as a fallback!). Additionally, outbound, one-way premium fares from South Africa can be quite aggressive, as I recall, the one-way Business Class fare, JNB to Philadelphia was less than $2,000….for one of the very best Business Class experiences in the world.
Delayed or lost luggage is a frustrating fact of the travel lifestyle. If you travel enough, you have likely been subject to the cruelest game of wishing, particularly if you are on a golf trip and the item which is MIA are your golf clubs. This recent announcement by British Airways is an interesting development and one that I will track closely.