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Weight a Minute: Travel Nightmare in Lusaka Airport

After returning from Zambia I received an email from a friend who I met in Zambia. She and her travel companion apparently had quite a few issues trying to depart Lusaka airport.

Upon arriving at the airport counter that was obviously run by locals they were informed of several weird rules that they seemed to keep making up about what constituted a carry-on bag.

Not the actual luggage in a question.

According to the folks at the counter, my friends needed to have physical laptops in their possession IF they wanted their backpacks to count as carry-ons. Which is an absurd rule. But they were able to convince them that iPads should be counted as computers.

They were then told that their carry-on luggage was CLEARLY too large to be a carry-on, as carry-ons could only be 7kg. Her carry-on weighed 10kg and his was 9. To counter this rule, she ended up putting on several articles of clothing from her bag until the weight complied with the rules.

She said she looked like a crazy homeless person with jeans on underneath a dress, with a sweater, cardigan and blazer followed by a scarf and trench coat!!!! Her travel companion had to carry several pairs of shoes in his hands.

To make matters worse the lady from the counter followed them thru the airport to ensure that they didn’t put the articles of clothing back in to their carry-on bags. I could not believe the level of harassment they endured at the airport. I mean honestly was it really that big a deal, that they made them do all of that to comply with “these rules” of weight requirements, if the same weight was still getting on the plane.

Victoria Falls, Victoria Fail!

Victoria Falls

Recently I took a trip to Africa, specifically Zambia.  I planned to meet-up with some folks and go to Victoria Falls, a majestic sight and according to CNN, one of the 7 natural world wonders.  Victoria Falls sits on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 5,604 ft. and height of 354 ft. resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls

Livingstone, specifically the Zambezi Sun Hotel and it’s property offered so many activities, besides the visit to the falls which was literally in their backyard.  Lion petting, elephant riding, kayaking, white water rafting, Game Drives, helicopter rides over the Falls, and a great deal more.

I tried booking my flight online from Lusaka, Zambia to Livingstone, Zambia prior to leaving the U.S.  I tried paying thru PayPal as it was one of the payment options, but received an error “we don’t recognize that currency”.  I’m assuming this had something to do with Zambia’s recent (last year) currency value change.  So I tried paying with a credit card and got another error.  I tried once again with my credit card but then the site said that the flight was no longer available.  Ugghh I was over it!  I prayed on it and went to sleep.

The next morning as I was checking my email I found a confirmation for my flight. Woohoo! #WontHeDoIt

A few days later I began my trip to Lusaka and enjoyed a bit of what it had to offer. Excited about my trip to Livingstone to see the Falls, I checked the email message again only to realize that the email stated that I needed to pay for my flight in person at a local office by a date that had passed two days prior. 😦  I assumed that I had completed my purchase online via my credit card but instead it was only a reservation not a complete booking.  Re-booking online was not an option as I was supposed to leave the following day, Friday.

I wandered over to the hotel bar and met a Mexican man who lived in Lusaka enjoying dinner at the hotel.   We started talking and he gave me the number to his travel agent and advised me to call her in the morning to see if she could assist me.

The next morning I called and she told me that a new airline would be flying to Lvingstone at 2PM that day.  Awesome I thought and asked  if she could book it for me.  She was happy to do so, but let me know that she was unable to take my credit card via the telephone and that I would need to get to the airport in enough time to pay for the flight prior to it’s departure.

Since it was a one hour domestic flight, I had a driver pick me up from my hotel and take me to the airport where we arrived about 1-ish.  The driver was super nice and helpful and walked me to the desk to purchase my reserved flight, only when we get there I’m told that the new flight had been cancelled. Luckily for me there was another flight on the original airline leaving at 4PM with one seat left.  So we rush to the other airline counter and the lady there says that they had one seat left but unfortunately the customer walking away from the counter had just purchased.  WTF!!!

Since I had done some research prior to arriving in Africa, I knew that there was a bus that would take me to Livingstone but it was a 7-hour drive on a very un-scenic route. The driver told me not to worry, as he would take me to the bus station which was downtown, but would have to wait at the airport to pick up an incoming passenger arriving on a 2:15 flight and take him home first.

We saw some arriving Heads of State and a musical performance as he and I talked for an hour and waited for his passenger.

Arrival Dance

 Unfortunately, the flight was delayed an hour, so by the time the flight landed it was about 3:20, and we still had to take him home. The ride to his house seemed to take forever.  By the time we actually reached the bus station it was now 4:30 PM and the bus was ready to depart.  I had not eaten lunch or dinner and was about to be stuck on a damn bus for 7 hours.  I literally had tears in my eyes.

My awesome driver looked at me and said, “I will run and get you food before the bus leaves, if you want to go to Livingstone, or I will take you back to your hotel. Whatever you decide, I want you to be completely okay with that decision without regret.”  I thought for a minute, but the locals at the bus station began to get aggressive, and started begging for money. So the whole thing was a bit overwhelming.  And I ultimately decided not to get on the bus.

What I failed to mention earlier was that I had also had trouble booking the hotel in Livingstone, I think they only had single rooms left, which was okay with me since I would only be there for one night. But booking that seemed to be an issue as well.

After so many issues trying to get to Victoria Falls, in my heart I felt like it was just not meant to be.  And I was tired of trying to force something that was obviously just not going to pan out. So my #WontHeDoIt” moment turned into #NoHeWont 😦

Maybe one day I’ll get there, but this just was not it.


Stayed tuned for my next, happier post on my time in Africa… Follow Me and/or Subscribe to ensure you don’t miss it!


Related Articles:

Living in Lusaka 

Zambia Here We Come

Wrapping it Up

The Mighty Victoria Falls

Notes From the Falls


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