I just completed booking our flights to South Africa for the World Cup starting next June 11, 2010; my wife and I can now let out collective sighs of relief. We realize that the games are 11 months from now but trying to buy airline tix has been a royal pain. I (and my smart and patient wife) know this because as we’ve discovered, airlines don’t let you book any more in advance than that; and that includes having your return date fall within those 11 months. And this may sound a bit paranoid to some folks, but we just didn’t know if the usual rules of air travel would apply for this event. True, there’s a possibility that airlines will open more routes, flights will be discounted before the games, demand won’t be as high as predicted, etc.; but we just didn’t want to risk being stuck on this side of the Atlantic while our game tickets (which we successfully ordered) wasted away at a ticket collection station in South Africa.
The major challenge we think and believe (having been “confirmed” by chatter on message boards and blogs) has been that tour operators (and likely sponsors) have been gobbling up flights as soon as they’ve opened. And that includes flights on most of the “mainstream” carriers such as British Airways, South African Airways, Etihad, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, and KLM. Forget trying to get flights within the few days before the event; try more like a week and half before the thing even starts. And for anything resembling affordable – forget about it. But I digress.
So this behavior by tour operators (who are offering all inclusive packages: flights, hotels, transport, game tix) for huge bucks has left extremely slim pickings for anyone looking to fly economy class to South Africa. If you could afford it, first/business class are still open, but I don’t know ANYONE that could afford those tix! Maybe Cristiano Ronaldo and all of the nouveau riche of Man City, but I don’t know who else! This has left us civilians in a pickle!
But we (mostly my wife) were flexible, patient, persistent, and smart. We figured that getting to SA was going to be the hardest part so we booked from London to Joburg on Egypt Air (fingers crossed) thinking that it would be easier (and cheaper) to get round trip tickets from NYC or CHI to London separately. So there you go. We have tickets to get from London to Jozie and to the games. Now we only have to get to London – but we have a while to figure that one out.
I am happy.