Mango Flight 161 and first night in Cape Town

We arrived at the airport around 4:10 pm – plenty of time before our 6:30 pm flight, as we made sure to leave extra time on our drive in case we ran into traffic or car trouble.

We returned our car with some trouble, as the Avis agent pointed out scrapping on the very bottom of the bumper, unnoticeable from the front without feeling under the car. The agent made JT fill out an incident report, where JT noted that he had no recollection of any incident and this was likely there before we picked it up. Since it was so far beneath the bumper, it is not visible in the photos JT took when picking up the car.

We packed up the car and our bags and headed into the terminal. After using the restroom, repacking our bags, and snacking on some of our leftover “car food”, we checked our hiking backpacks (20 kg free per passenger) and cleared security before 5:30 pm.

The Johannesburg domestic terminal security consisted of checking for a valid boarding pass (but no ID check) and a metal detector. Shoes remain on, but laptops need to be pulled out.

Our gate (D3) was just steps from security. So, we passed the time by getting a large “chips” (fries) to split (R28) and a chocolate milkshake for Katie (R24). We caught up on the news at the gate tvs, hearing about the tragic news out of Nepal and Everest.

Mango Flight 161 – Johannesburg to Cape Town
O. R. Tambo International (JNB): Scheduled: 6:30p; Actual 6:46p
Cape Town International (CPT): Gate: B19; Scheduled: 8:45p
Registration: ZS-SJT; Boeing 737-844; First Flight: Oct 7, 2002; 186 seats (186 coach)
Seats: 6E-middle (JT) & 6F-window (Katie), coach; Booking class: D

We boarded the plane (Boeing 737-800, registration ZS-SJT) later into the boarding process, but not last. We had chosen seats 6D and 6F, seeing that there were many available seats when we checked in online and hoping that 6E would remain open. No such luck. 6E contained a little child when we got to our row. With a sigh, a mother got up from row 7 to move the child to let Katie in. We figured that it was still going to be our rowmate, but, no, the family was just trying to steal a seat. With the child moved, we tried to settle in. But, an older couple came up from the back of the plane, where I suppose they tried to take seats together but we kicked out. Seems they were actually assigned 5E and 6E but thought that it was ok to take other seats. (Ends up that it was likely their first flights?? The lady had no idea how to work her seatbelt)

Interior of the Mango plane

So, JT hoped into 6E to be next to Katie and we were off! As we pushed back, the older lady decided it was acceptable to take 1.5 seats – elbowing her way well past the armrest and well into JT’s side – and the child decided to practice for soccer against JT’s chair. So, needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant flight for JT.

Trying to look happy…

Since Mango is a low-cost carrier, no food or drink was free. But, the prices were very reasonable. JT got a Castle Lager (R18) and Katie got a Savana Dry (R20). Water would have been R10. Combined, these cost just over $3. The older couple ordered teas and snacks and their bill rang up to “just” R90.

Mango flight menu

We landed a bit hard right before 8:30, slammed on the brakes (although there was plenty of runway left), and then taxied to “gate” B19, which was a “bus gate”. There were a line of 5 busses waiting for us there, far more than necessary for our 737. We disembarked the plane and loaded into the first bus.

We were dropped at ground level just steps from a baggage claim belt. Quite convenient! When Katie’s bag came out at 8:39, we were impressed – just 10 minutes from landing to getting the bag! But, then we had to wait until 8:53 before JT’s finally came out.

Overall, Mango was decent for a low-cost carrier. Just remember that a low-cost carrier attracts low-cost passengers… which seem to include self-centered families and confused older couples in South Africa.

We grabbed a free roller cart to get our bags to the Uber we planned on taking. Good thing too! While the bus dropped us off conveniently at a baggage claim, it was a solid 5 minute walk to get to the main terminal/arrivals area.

We tried to find a place for an Uber to pick us up, but all pick up areas were rather inconvenient and impossible to “pin” for our Uber driver. So, we opted for a taxi. We verified the rate and approximate price and got in the first taxi in the taxi line (located ~100 ft just outside of the arrivals terminal). As we were about to head out, a guy ran over to our taxi and started complaining about how this guy jumped the line (hard to see how, but whatever). Our bags were unloaded from this taxi and loaded into the taxi behind us with another driver. And we sped away towards downtown. Both drivers approximated R270 ride and it ended up being R264. The driver was nice, so JT was going to round up to R300 (just $25), but was having trouble finding a R100 in his money pouch in the dark, pulling out a R50 then a R10. The driver was a bit impatient and said that he was happy with just R260, so that’s what he ended up with!

After a long check-in process at the hotel, we dropped our stuff in our room and headed out to get birthday dinner for JT. Katie had researched and found a tapas place right around the corner from our hotel, but we were wary of going there, as everyone seemed to be well-dressed there when we drove by in the taxi. The receptionist at the front desk suggested the Italian restaurant across the square, called Bellini, so we decided to give it a try… and we are so glad that we did! It was perfect for us! We had two reasonably-portioned, delicious pasta dishes (pasta carbonara for Katie and pasta salmon for JT) and a bottle of rose wine for R310, all while enjoying the eclectic ambiance and entertaining servers.

JT’s birthday dinner

JT’s dinner: pasta salmon

Katie’s dinner: pasta carbonara

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