A couple of hours relaxing at the lodge and away from airports have improved one’s mental health immensely. They have great old leather couches here, my favorite, and I’m currently ensconced on one. A nap is imminent. Meanwhile, I’ve noticed two interesting things right off the bat:

  1. The lodge had no power, no electricity when we arrived. They got their generator started and now most things work here, including Wifi. It’s sporadic, but it’s mostly on. Apparently this is normal – S Africa has ongoing and systemic problems with their power grid. I know some engineers who could fix this. Microgrids, anyone?
  2. Walking around the property, we could just as easily be in San Diego. Same flora, halfway around the world. Can’t really tell about the trees because it’s winter here and anything deciduous has dropped its leaves. But the succulents, flowers, cycads, etc. are all the same as at our CA home.

In country and cranky

We finally made it to our first in-country S Africa stop, Nkanga Lodge. It’s really just a rallying point for the sixteen tour participants. It’s a quaint, family-owned lodge that has (had?) potential but I think has seen better days. But the owner/proprietor Jane is extremely nice, so I’m keeping an open mind about the place.

But first, a bit about British Airways that I wrote in flight last night.

BA Sucks

You can skip the rest and just read this first paragraph – BA’s business class cabin on an A380 is a crime. I cringe at what we paid for a flight experience that was the worst I’ve ever seen on an airline. BA should be ashamed for taking our money for the flight.

Or you can read the rest of this rant. We had a good flight out from LA to London on a 777-300. Their business class seat configuration was more dense than any I had seen before, but once in my little pod, it worked quite well. Comfy enough, private enough, and very modern. I found myself congratulating BA on stuffing a lot of business class seats (6 in each row!) into a 777.

But then we boarded for our longer journey from London to Johannesburg and the shit hit the fan. This time we boarded an Airbus A380. The cabin configuration looked similar at first, but the more I looked the worse it got. Even smaller seats/cubbies arranged in a bizarre configuration where more than half faced the rear of the plane, including ours. Eight seats across each row. Very tight seats – my shoulders wouldn’t fit in the space allowed, and my hips would only fit in the seat when it was near upright. They have some weird armrest thing where the armrests sink down to hip level as you lean the seat back for “comfort”.

There was absolutely no place to stow anything in our little den. Glasses, iPad, headphones, a bottle of water – nowhere to store any of these items. The only storage was down at foot level, a drawer that could be accessed if you returned your seat to the landing and takeoff position. Not convenient at all if you’re expected to read, write and sleep.

Next I realized that, our seats being the two in the center, I would have to step over the sleeping form of the person on the aisle next to me to exit my seat. That was…astounding. I had to try to step over a sleeping passenger, not a small hurdle, just to get to the john. Who the hell ever thought that was a good idea? I just did it and it was a workout.

Finally, all the tech for the seat/cubbie was *old*. A tiny pop-out movie screen – my laptop screen is bigger. A wired remote, a very unresponsive user interface, plastic bubble control buttons for the seat – the tech for this BA seat must’ve been designed in 1990.

So here I sit at 40,000 feet, somewhere over the Med or north Africa, pissed off that I paid a premium price for a shitty seat. And now I know why BA makes you wait until 24 hours before departure before checking in and selecting a seat. If I had seen this aircraft and this configuration as our flight, and had done my normal research on customer sat, I would have said “hell no” and flown another carrier. But we could get no information on the scheduled aircraft model or configuration, and I have to believe BA does that on purpose. Worthless fuckers.

One way or another BA is going to hear from me, though I have no illusions that it’ll make much difference. I feel *exactly* like they snatched a few thousand dollars out of my pocket and expect to get away with the theft. I’ll make it a point to find every review site I can and let people know that BA will sell you a “business class” seat and provide you with something much, much worse than you would expect.