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BA6417 Johannesburg Intl (JNB) - Cape Town Intl (CPT)
Date: 6 December 2004
Departure (scheduled): 12:45
Arrival (scheduled): 14:45
Aircraft: Boeing 737-200
Cabin: Traveller
Seat: 3A

After my friend dropped me off, I found the check-in queue to be non-existant and was soon on my way up to the excellent domestic lounge that BA has at Johannesburg. It is well equipped and has excellent views over the airport and part of one of the runways.

Unfortunately I found that the computer terminals would not enable me to log on to my Yahoo! email account or access BBC News, two of my favourite websites. I assumed this was a temporary fault and didn't make too much of it.

As soon as boarding was announced I went down to the gate, expecting to get a bus to the BA aircraft I could see on remote stands across the ramp. However, we boarded through an airbridge and then I noticed that we were being herded onto an ancient looking Safair 737-200!! I suddenly panicked that I was on the wrong flight, but when I boarded it seemed this was the right plane!

It all became clear when the pilot made his announcement. Apparently several of Comair's planes had been damaged in the previous nights storms, so they had had to lease a replacement from Safair to complete the flight.

This was my first time in a 737 "classic" and I was interested to see how it would be, although slightly unnerved that it was a leased aircraft. I would have preferred a BA aircraft!

I was soon to find out that the 737 classics are loud! Even sitting in front of the long cylindrical engines, the noise was fairly high as we powered down the runway and took off into the Johannesburg sky. As we climbed the noise abated only a little and stayed with us all the way to Cape Town.

As this was a charter aircraft, there was only one class, but I had been booked in economy anyway. The service was identical to the outbound, a sandwich and drink and in-flight magazine. I spent most of the flight reading my Lonely Planet and planning my time in Cape Town.

The approach to Cape Town was again over the Winelands region, but this time I was on the wrong side of the plane for good Table Mountain views. Landing was smooth and we again parked at a remote stand, although this time we could walk to the terminal building, rather than get a bus.