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11/27 Flying RwandAir

We thought we should give a report on flying RwandAir from Kigali to Johannesburg.  No pictures on this one – just a story!

The security to even get ON the airport property is more than most Americans have ever seen. Security #1 – Every car has to go through security before they’re allowed near the terminal building.  We all had to get out of the car, put our bags on a platform for the German Shepherd to sniff while we all went through a metal detector. Of course, Susan’s bra set off the detector, and that required her to be wanded.

After that, Robert, our gorilla tour guide, could drive to the terminal lot and park and we could take our bags to near the entrance of the terminal building.  Only passengers with tickets are allowed in the airport terminal. Check-in starts 3 hours before the flight and you are not allowed in the terminal until that time. An electronic sign told us when the check-in would open and guards would let us in. A local guy who got there at the same time we did told us to get up closer to the entrance because the hoards will come from the café when the 3 hour time is near.

After the terminal guides saw that we have tickets for the proper flight, the first stop INSIDE the terminal was to show our tickets to the RwandAir personnel who let us go to security check #2, another x-ray or metal detector of both us and all of our bags, carry-on and check-in.  We always had to take out our computer but shoes were OK to stay on.  Mark usually had to remove his belt.  The security guy asked Mark if he had a knife in his checked bag?  Mark said yes and the guard said to make sure it was in my checked bag. We passed and we proceeded to the check-in counter.

At the check-in counter they told us we couldn’t have any electronic items in our checked bags. (I hoped our electric toothbrush didn’t count. I forgot it was in the suitcase until we were on the plane.).

After we received our boarding pass, we could go to Immigration and have our passports stamped that we left the country.  The Kigali waiting area has 2 shops, 1 set of clean bathrooms, and 1 small snack bar.  I recommend the Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and cheese) at the snack bar if you’re hungry.  Mark got a chicken sandwich and was not sure it had any chicken in it.  He’s still not sure what was in the sandwich but he didn’t get sick.

To get to the actual gates (labelled 4, 5, 6, and 7 but all are really one gate), we went through security #3 and they were pretty thorough in looking at the contents of suitcases.  We’re so Americanized, we had no problems – nothing looks suspicious in our backpacks!

We were finally in the boarding area and we waited and chatted with 2 South Africans. Flight was late by about 40 minutes and then came boarding!

No announcements are made … some gate agent just walked in front of the seated people and said, we think, “It’s time to board”.  Everyone rushed to the open door, exchanged their ticket for a plastic “Boarding Pass”, walked across the runway to walk to steps UP to the airplane, where we boarded in no special order!

Eventually, somehow, everyone got on the plane and managed to find some places for their carry-ons.

After that, the flight was uneventful but everyone (except the well-trained Americans) took off their seatbelts and stood up the minute the wheels touched down in Johannesburg at 2:45 AM.  This airport has a real jetway but it wouldn’t connect to the plane requiring us to wait on the plane for about 10 minutes while that problem was solved!