The Airport Grand to Mauritius Le Meridien
Trip Start Nov 10, 2010
18Trip End Nov 26, 2010
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Where I stayed
Last night at the Airport Grand Hotel in Johannesburg, I worried that all my clean shirts were extraordinarily wrinkled from a very tightly packed suitcase. So, I called reception to request an iron and ironing board. One was promptly delivered to my room. I could locate, however, no electric outlet in the room into which the plug on the iron could be inserted as it was larger and of a different configuration that the plugs for the lamps, coffee “boiler” and television. I called reception and they promised to send someone right up. After a five minute search, the person who came right up called someone else and learned that there was an outlet into which the iron could be plugged in but access to it required moving the large desk/mini bar housing/chest-of-drawers/television stand away from the wall
I called reception to inquire if they would like to retrieve the iron and ironing board or if I should place both of them in the hallway. I was asked to simply keep them in the room and housekeeping would fetch them in the morning. Housekeeping did that; promptly at 6:00am.
No matter. The hotel is in the flight path of the Johannesburg International Airport and as soon as it opens in the morning, when the winds dictate use of the appropriate runway, the jets fly immediately over the hotel at an altitude of approximately ten feet. One tends to be rattled out of bed at an early hour. Everyone here is extremely friendly.
In South Africa and environs, dump trucks are referred to as “tippers”
and traffic signals at intersections, commonly known as “stop lights”
at home, are referred to here as “robots.
At the Air France lounge at the Johannesburg airport, being early for
my flight to Mauritius, I asked the reception desk person to please
assist me in reconfirming my onward flight from Mauritius to Paris
which I was to fly two days in the future
by The World’s Greatest Travel Agent, the earlier mentioned Ms.
Sudeikis, and my tour operator, Thompson’s, I have been drilled on the
necessity of reconfirming flights 72 hours in advance. This seemed like
an opportune time for that exercise because I was at the Air France
lounge, having been sent there by Air Mauritius, and because my flight
from Mauritius to Paris is to be on Air France. Viola! Magnifique!
The reception staff said they could not help me. But, they said, they would
connect me to Air France on their telephone. They did. The kind man to
whom I spoke asked for my six digit confirmation number and quickly
found my reservation and asked for my e-ticket number. I told him that,
for the flight in question, I had a paper ticket
be a problem because, without an e-ticket number, he would be unable to
reconfirm the flight. "I have a paper ticket number," I told him. He
allowed as how that might possibly work and that he would write it down
so he could check with someone later and that I should consider my
flight to be reconfirmed and that everything was now in order. I am now
The announcement, on 23 November, 2010, aboard Air
Mauritius flight number 0852 from Johannesburg, South Africa to the
island of Mauritius: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to apologize
for all of you. The film you cannot watch because the cassette has
Those who arrived on time for that flight will
never know of this because the flight departed a half hour early
because of a possible impending storm
nice as this is an Airbus A340-300—seats 34 but there are only 13 of
us. The economy cabin seats 264 and, it too, is only about one third
full. I had been told that it was a full flight.
The video monitors in the airport announced that the flight was BOARDING. At the
gate, however, they assured me that it was not, as yet, boarding. They
were, I was told, testing the video monitors.
And now for a QuikQuiz: The name of the airport on Mauritius is:
A: Mauritius Port-Louis International Airport
B: Swami Vivekananda International Airport
C: Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport
D: Paathshaaia International Airport
If you answered A that is incorrect as it would be too easy.
If you answered D that, too, is incorrect because Paathshaaia is the name
of the inflight movie that you cannot see because the cassette is
If you answered C that, sorry to say, is also
incorrect because Swami Vivekananda is the name of the International
Convention Centre in Port-Louis, Mauritius, and not the Airport and you
can see how easy a mistake to make that would be.
The correct answer, one and only, is C: Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International
Airport! Congratulations if you got that right. I shall endeavour to
learn the history of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam while I am on the island
and offer up an explanation of his identity in a later post.
And now, another QuikQuiz: Which of these is NOT a full-page advertisement in the Air Mauritius inflight magazine, The Islander:
A: Hair Grafting Centre in Mauritius
B: Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital
D: Apollo Bramwell Hospital
If you answered C, you are correct as dentCare only sprung for a quarter of a page. Ah, a trick question.
The =following is a quote from the “Once Upon A Time” column in the The
Islander. “1810 is one of the most significant years in Mauritius’
history. Although the French victory in the Battle of Vieux Grand Port
was something of a military exploit, it turned out to be insignificant
in the long run.” The meaning of this, apparent to the writer, eludes
Another QuikQuiz: Which of these is or are, according to safety instructions, either in video and printed form, not allowed:
A: Smoking, including smoking of Puffway Electronic Cigarettes
B: Sleeping on the floor
C: Making any claim against the airline if the suggested RelaxFlight
methods shown in the safety video fail to prevent the occurrence of
deep vein thrombosis as Air Mauritius shall not be liable in any way.
D: All of the above.
If you answered D: All of the above, you must have flown Air Mauritius
before and heard or seen these various announcements. If you simply
guessed correctly, please accept my congratulations. In all my time of
flying, I have never before encountered the prohibition, clearly acted
out in the safety video, against sleeping on the floor.
The first officer just walked past my row, heading from the cockpit to
somewhere aft. He appears to be in his late teens or early twenties. He
has quickly returned to the cockpit. I do not know whether or not I am
In The Islander, it is also noted that, while in flight, “you should avoid sodas and alcoholic drinks.” And, “As a general rule, beef / veal / pork, and all products derived from these,
will not be supplied on our flights. Alcohol will not be used in the
cooking methods / products.”
Available on today’s flight in business class are three main courses: fish, chicken and ostrich. Also available are “Tropical Punch made from sugar cane rum, Aperitifs, Spirts, Beer and Soft Drinks, and Cognac & Liqueurs.” Also, “Passengers are not allowed to consume their own liquor.”
After the fine meal service aboard our flight, and after noting the selection
of wines including Brio De Cantenac Brown Margaux 2002, Santa Duc Les
Garancieres Gigondas 2006, Chablis Saint Martin and Duval-Leroy Brut
Champagne, each personally selected by David Biraud, Meilleur Sommelier
de France 2002 and Meilleur Jeune Sommelier de France 1998, I asked for
a cup of coffee. The coffee aboard? Instant Nescafe.
I love to travel internationally. I love to go to new places. I love to go to new places that most people would never dream of going. Who goes to Mauritius or Namibia? Your friend Paul goes there and he collects experiences that enrich his life and that he will recall—usually fondly—until the day he dies. These experiences give him a unique appreciation for life in America, the place where, one Zimbabwean driver asked me, “Is it true that Mrs. Palin will be your next President? She seems to me to be a nut.”
Upon arrival at Mauritius, where, by now, the sun has set and it is pitch dark, I was met by my driver who took me the hour or so across the island to the Le Meridien. The World’s Greatest Travel Agent said I should ask if an upgrade was available. So, I did. The room is nice but I can't tell about the view just yet.
Talk to you tomorrow. Oh, thanks Kathy. This really is a nice upgrade.