Check out of the hotel…for the third time…was easy and hopefully this time would be the charm and I’d actually get to start resuming my trip. Then the hotel informed me…there was no driver. Excuse me? I just confirmed the time last night…finally they raised him on his cell phone and he was on his way to pick me up. He drove somewhere around 200 kph down city streets, practically running people off the road, but eventually we got to the airport safely.
Only one problem when I finally arrived at the airport – there were no obvious check-in desks! After asking several people, I learned that they didn’t let you into the check-in area until 90 minutes before flight time, so you had to wait in the arrivals area. Eventually I found the line to get in, and ended up chatting with an American guy and his daughter, who were lost and had no idea where to check in. We solved it together, and made it in at T-90, and check-in was a breeze.
Through security and immigration, and into the waiting area. The “alcool” store was still closed – probably still hungover from New Year’s Eve the night before.
The Christmas trees were still up in the waiting area, and this called for a selfie:
Oh, and Santa and his reindeer were hanging out with the trees too. Gabon was certainly feeling festive!
Boarding area was empty, less than 50 people, and this despite the fact that two flights were about to board. First they boarded the CamAir flight to Douala, and then there were only 12 people left. I was pretty sure they had downsized our plane. Soon, it was time to walk across the tarmac to our plane. A look back at the terminal building:
…and there’s our plane! It really was a 737 for just 12 people. Maybe there were through passengers already on board? Nope!
RwandAir Flight 211
Libreville, Gabon (LBV) to Brazzaville, Congo (BZV)
Depart 10:35, Arrive 12:05, Flight Time 90 minutes
Boeing 737-700, Registration 9XR-WK, Manufactured 2007, Seat 10A
Was easy to move around on board, since there were a total of 12 people for a plane that seated 150. I asked the flight attendant if it was ok to move to the exit row, and he gave me a puzzled look. Turns out, he didn’t speak French. Despite Rwanda changing its official language from French to English less than 10 years ago, it appeared this guy in his 20s didn’t speak a word of French. Curious.
The plane felt very new and comfortable, and was in great condition inside. The crew took their jobs very seriously, carefully doing the exit row briefing and all. Flight was short and comfortable, and there was even a small snack served. It was a semi scary looking sandwich, and given the fact this wasn’t a RwandAir hub I was pretty sure it had been on the plane a while, so I didn’t partake. I was tempted to have a local beer or glass of wine (all complimentary) but opted just for water at this hour.
All in all, I was seriously impressed with RwandAir. Certainly better that your average domestic US flight with newish planes, professional crew, and even free food and drink!
The Brazzaville airport was very clean and modern as well as being well air conditioned! Quite unusual for Africa! Immigration was reasonable quick and friendly, and my bag was already waiting for me when I got to the bag claim. Even the taxis were honest, only asking 3,000 CFA for the 15 minute ride to my hotel. So far the trip was starting to look up!