Onwards! The “hotel” arranged a transfer to Juba airport, and check-in was pretty primitive – but completely painless. There was a paper list they were checking names off of, bag tags and boarding passes were handwritten (and I still have yet to receive United credit for this segment) but all in all – it worked. We went through what passed for security, but the x-ray machine was off, there was no real check, and we were soon sitting in some very torn-up lounge chairs in the departure room.
Juba Airport is really just two rooms – one for arrivals, and one for departures. It was packed with everyone for the three departing flights, and despite the fact ours had been changed from a 737 to an ERJ, the room was quite empty. The list of names only had like 20 names on it, so Inshallah it would be an empty flight…and it was!
EgyptAir Flight 860
Juba, South Sudan to Cairo, Egypt
Depart 14:45, Arrive 18:00, Flight Time 4:15
ERJ-170, Registration SU-GDH, Manufactured 2009
The flight was absolutely empty, and less than 1/4 of the seats were taken, so everyone who wanted could have their own row. This was by far my longest flight on an ERJ, and it was as good as can be expected. The crew were quite lazy, surly, and did the bare minimum (even serving drinks in previously-used glasses) but all in all, with the number of empty seats, I won’t complain at all. Plus, the meal was at least edible!
Flight arrived on time, bus to the terminal, where the handler from the tour company we’d booked with was waiting. I decided to book a tour for this trip, because we had one full day in the city and wanted to really maximize the amount we could see. Included were round-trip airport transfers, and the handling of the visa on arrival, no need to haggle with drivers….was well worth it. I would highly recommend Memphis Tours to anyone looking for a similar situation.
Drive to the hotel – the Le Meridien Pyramids was pretty quick, under 45 minutes this late, and soon we were being hassled by the front desk clerk who wanted a bit of baksheesh in order to deliver SPG benefits. UG! Welcome to Egypt! Eventually everything worked out, we got some dinner, a very very slightly upgraded room where the AC barely worked, and it was off to bed in order to maximize the next day!