Jan 142012

Now, “that” always feel you that you need to arrive at the airport at least three hours in advance to avoid cancelation of your reservation on international flights. Kigali has precisely around 15 flights per day from the entire airport, and I can’t believe this is really required for a plane that only seats 70 people. This is africa, however, so we weren’t sure how much we wanted to risk things. We got there around two hours in advance, which was more than enough time – in fact, I think we were two of the first five or so to check in!

The check-in folks were rather efficient, we were allowed to carry the bags on and security was a breeze. The airport has even built an “executive lounge” for waiting if you’re in business class or have some other sort of card. However, there was no Diet Coke on offer – what kind of a lounge is this! Regardless, it was a quiet place to wait for the flight.

A quick view of the airport from outside:

Boarding was quick and efficient, and the plane was maybe only half full for the short flight.

Kenya Airways Flight 448
Kigali, Rwanda (KGL) to Bujumbura, Burundi (BJM)
Depart 09:50, Arrive 10:30, Flight Time 40 minutes – actual time in air only about 25 minutes, 109 miles
Embraer ERJ-170, Registration 5Y-KYL, Manufactured 2006
Seat 4F

“Due to the short duration of the flight” no refreshments, juice, water or anything were offered. Honestly, not too much to say. The plane was new and safe-feeling, the crew was professional and it was everything I’d been told air traffic in Africa wasn’t. Plus, Kenya Airways posted the miles to my Delta account in under 24 hours – so all in all we were left with a very positive opinion of Kenya Airways!

We were slightly nervous about the arrival into Burundi.  This country is clearly not geared up for tourism of any sort, and despite our best efforts (calling the embassy in DC, reading around online, etc) we weren’t sure of the visa requirements.  The embassy said they would “get back to us” and never did.  Various reports online said you could get a visa on arrival if Burundi didn’t have an embassy in your country of residence.  Other sites said everyone could get one on arrival if needed.   In the end, I trusted Timatic which is the source most airlines use to determine if they’re going to board passengers or not.  It said that visa on arrival was available if there was no embassy in your country.  I decided to risk the B.S. route and just tell them the embassy had told us to get it there.

In the end, it didn’t matter.  Visas were issued rather quickly, and were some of the coolest “on arrival” visas I’ve ever seen.  Now, it was time to explore Burundi!

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