London to Africa – airline recommendationsBack to Forum
Hello…..I have a slim chance of an opportunity to work on some projects in Africa, and before I get too far down the line I wanted to canvass opinion on the various carriers.
My primary concern will always be safety, followed by reliability then the amenities/comfort/service etc.
Destinations are likely to be SA, Senegal & Kenya – unlikely to be any internal fights involved so would just be London to the Capital cities, but I’m happy to transit in Europe if a European carrier/hub is suggested as the better option.
Many thanks in anticipation.29 Aug 2018
It depends on what your criteria for airlines is.
For me, esp J class, it’s usually collecting miles. Which means, as both a oneworlder and Skyteam’er, I’d rather fly a less-than-comfy BA or KLM versus an Emirates. Both KL and AF have good African network. If you’re looking for oneworld, Qatar!29 Aug 2018
As Markiv suggests , if you’re going to be collecting points then choose carefully.
Not knowing your circumstance , if points are a motivator , then start with the end in mind.
Think about how you’re going to spend your accumulated points before choosing your alliance.
Personally I’d opt for Skyteam , purely because you mentioned Kenya, and it would be rude not to choose KQ for your Nairobi flight !!29 Aug 2018
thank you both for your thoughts.
If it were down to the points, it would probably mean Oneworld (currently just a humble bronze), as that combined with the BA Amex Platinum serves us well for our leisure travel. I do have some 29,000 miles with Korean Skypass, and Mrs GT many multiples of that through visits to family back in NZ. But putting FFP aside, my interest is particularly in safety, reliability and viability eg the oft commented woes of SAA suggest that may not be in the rudest of financial health!29 Aug 2018
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The Lufthansa group also has a decent Africa network, especially through SWISS and Brussels.
Swiss does a ZRH-NBO (and continues onto dar es salaam) which I’ve done a few times. It’s quite an easy flight.
Air France also has a significant African presence but Ethiopian airlines could also be a sound option for SA and Kenya, less so for Senegal.
If you’re seeing a trend here you may be onto something, Star Alliance has by far the most significant African presence of all alliances. Perhaps Star flights, regardless of the carrier, are the way to go (except Egypt air, not because it’s a poor airline just that transfer through Cairo can only be described as “an experience”.
All the best,29 Aug 2018
I would go with Kenya Airways, generally airlines in the central region (I speak for central region only) are reliable and safe, I have flown SAA, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian in the last 18 months. And since you are going to Kenya, why not use their Airline, they fly direct to JNB and one stop to Dakar, direct to LHR, so win-win on the miles, and they are a Skyteam member.
SAA has the most aged of aircrafts I believe, whilst Ethiopian has the youngest. Your routes would mean uses of the 787-8 and 737-800. In terms of amenities, there’s not much difference, for comfort I think you have to compare the planes rather to the airline? I would not stop in Europe, would just increase cost and duration of travel.
Hope that helps 🙂29 Aug 2018
I’d choose Swiss / Lufthansa, part of Star Alliance which includes SAA, Turkish and Ethiopian. Safe and reliable with a good mileage programme and some competitive fares. Having obtained status you only need to qualify in one of two years to re-qualify. It’s true SAA’s planes are a bit old, but they have a fantastic Business Class on the A330’s with masses of space and a far better seat/layout than BA.29 Aug 2018
To voice and support others, Kenya Airways/Ethiopian both have very good footprints across Eastern/Southern and Central Africa. You may also want to consider Turkish Airlines that has an exceptionally good footprint. Safety with KQ and Ethiopian is not a worry and both are fairly reliable.
Otherwise there is also EK and QR.
Happy to assist with more questions
Regards29 Aug 2018
I’m still unclear what the OP’s criteria are or even which cities are involved. There are many many different scenarios.
If travelling economy and seeking quickest/cheapest route then KQ/BA to Kenya, BA/SAA to South Africa and TAP via Lisbon to Dakar. They are all acceptable for economy.
If mileage is involved then probably OneWorld – BA as above and Dakar on Iberia via Madrid. Maybe Qatar to Kenya/South Africa to boost mileage.
If travelling business or first and looking for quality premium cabins then obviously forget BA and steer towards the ME3. Their premium propositions are light years ahead of BA and Iberia, particularly Q suites on QR and A380 on EK) but routing is a bit triangular and adds in time. Possibly Air France as well.
Good luck. I have travelled to Africa for work for 28 years now, including Nairobi about 10x pa, I always enjoy the trip. However in my recent experience you need to be on the ball, South Africa is not what it was 10 years ago and rioting in Nairobi over the last week or so with the demolitions.30 Aug 2018
Suggest BA, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways for Eastern Africa and the Horn.
Air France works well for Senegal and West African francophone states.
Find Ghana Airways are fine within West Africa.
Ethiopian Airways have a good range of flights between African regions.
Bon voyage!30 Aug 2018
Another option could be ..Brussels Airlines – decent business and economy classes, and a wide network, especially when combined with Lufthansa/Swiss for NBO flights. TK is decent, but I am not sure if the 2 shortish flights together are good for sleep and arriving in reasonable shape.
KQ when I have flown with them were actually very good, but their newish schedules from LHR, arriving 4-5 in the morning are not pleasant. And 787 in economy for me is a no no – horrible seating at 9 across for a plane designed for 8 across.
Oneworld in Africa has pathetic coverage. BA is NBO is OK, but why fly Iberia to Dakar via MAD? You get 2 flights on short haul configured A320/21s, which is not ideal. Same argument for TAP, when AF use 777-300 and Brussels A330, which are FAR nicer.
For East Africa, I do not buy the ME3 offering – very lengthy detour, when ET,KQ, LH, KL, BA etc have good products and allow a reasonable sleep en-route.
For South Africa BA has many options, and A380, but frankly the SAA J and Y classes look great – excellent J product and very nice 2-4-2 configuration in Y.
In my opinion BA should be offering more in West Africa, which would be profitable, and Dakar, Freetown, Monrovia, Abidjan all viable, maybe also Banjul for
holiday flights, but that is for a separate discussion.
In the meantime I wish the opening poster well with his/her travels, sounds an exciting juncture going to these places.30 Aug 2018
thank you all for your wisdom and guidance, and the good wishes for if this venture proceeds. some have enquired after the criteria driving the original question – and its down to Mrs GT! For many years Mrs GT has volunteered for a Medical Charity, supporting cardiac surgery in regions less fortunate than many of us are used to. In doing so, she has ventured into some remote areas of Africa and travelled on numerous non-European carriers. She has sometimes returned with tales of woe of the various carriers – not in terms of cabin service as the Medical Charity community (in our experience) is afforded hospitality above and beyond a ‘regular’ traveller, particularly when on a host countries national carrier – rather her concerns have been on aircraft condition. Having said that, it has been some years since she travelled in Africa, more recent trips have been to the Indian sub-continent. Both Mrs GT & I are reassured by the positive reports of the areas in question and the local/national carriers.31 Aug 2018
Well I wish you and Mrs. GT well with whatever you do. It sounds like a very worthwhile cause.
If it’s any reassurance, I’ve also traveled extensively in Africa (excluding N. Africa apart from Egypt) and flown many dodgy aircraft, some I’m sure used rubber bands to drive the props 😉 and never had a problem. I don’t have any statistics and I’m sure someone will correct me, but the number of fatal accidents, despite the old planes, seem very few all things considered.
I traveled in planes without seat-belts, with a coffin (occupied) on board, crates of live chickens, a stuffed crocodile (that was me actually having received it as a gift) and taken off and landed on grass strips, forest clearings and dirt runways.
If it’s a worry don’t let it be and I look forward to hearing more of her and your travels on what to me is one of the earths most fascinating continents.31 Aug 2018