TRIP REPORT: From Zambia to Ljubljana


Written by Matjaž Nose

I booked my ticket to Lusaka already in September 2020 for July 2021 but had to postpone the trip twice until this summer due to Covid related restrictions. As I am a member of Miles and More programme (Star Alliance) and since I travelled a lot in the past, I accumulated enough reward miles to buy a ticket using these miles. When I checked the possible destinations, I decided to book a flight to Lusaka, paying 60,000 miles for the flight and additionally €186.93 for related taxes and surcharges. When I booked the ticket, there was still a direct Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Lusaka available so my initial flight route was Ljubljana-Istanbul-Lusaka and back. In the meantime, Turkish Airlines discontinued direct fights to Lusaka, Covid related restrictions caused my flights to be rescheduled and finally I ended up with the following flight bouquet: Ljubljana-Warsaw-Istanbul-Addis Ababa-Harare-Lusaka, on the way back, my flight route included the following airports: Lusaka-Addis Ababa-Vienna-Brussels-Ljubljana. LOT Polish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and Brussels Airlines contributed their airplanes and services for this trip. Since only a certain number of reward tickets can be booked on each flight I was not able to select a direct Ljubljana-Istanbul flight but had to fly there via Warsaw, that is why my initial one stop journey to Lusaka transformed into seven flights, two of them with intermediate stops with lots of take offs and landings. I liked it!

In this trip report I would like to highlight my return flight from Lusaka to Ljubljana but let me also give you some information on my outbound flights.

LOT flights between Ljubljana and Istanbul were rather uneventful. I arrived in Istanbul at around 23:30, collected my luggage and went to a hotel. Since my Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa departed at 00:10 I had to arrive a day earlier to Istanbul as there was not enough time to have a same day connection. I had an entire day to explore the city before taking a bus back to Istanbul airport. I appreciated the opportunity to visit Istanbul again as this city on the banks of the Bosphorus is one of the most interesting cities I have visited so far.

The Ethiopian Airlines flight from Istanbul to the Ethiopian capital was operated by a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. It was a night flight and the majority of passengers slept during the flight.

I had three and a half hours layover at ADD airport before I boarded an A350 bound for Lusaka with a stopover in Harare.

Zambia grants visa on arrival for majority of foreigners so I didn't arrange my visa in advance. Zambia also offers a so called KAZA visa, a joint visa for Zambia and Zimbabwe but with following restrictions: its validity is 30 day for multiple crossings between Zambia and Zimbabwe but only on certain border crossings. Both capital airports are included, as well as Victoria Falls but not Chirundu border crossing on the way between Lusaka and Harare. The KAZA visa also includes a day trip to Botswana (you have to be back same day otherwise you have to buy a new visa). Based on my travel plans I asked for a KAZA visa which costs $50.

I completed my immigration procedures surprisingly fast, it took only 15-20 minutes before I was at the conveyor belt waiting to collect my luggage. But what a surprise when I found out that my luggage liked Istanbul even more than me and decided to stay there for few more days! In the end, instead of Friday afternoon it arrived on Tuesday afternoon which meant I had to change my travel plans for the first days of my trip. I had to stay in Lusaka for additional three days. Unfortunately, Lusaka is one of the most boring capital cities I know: one museum, a monument in front of it and a main road (Cairo St.) instead of a proper main square. But it can offer some surprises also. In the guesthouse I stayed I met a Macedonian guy who was travelling all the way from Mozambique to Tanzania. We immediately switched from English to Yugoslav Esperanto or srpsko-hrvatski as it was called in my school days many years ago. Had some beers together and discussed about our travel plans and experiences.

After I finally managed to get my luggage I headed straight to Livingstone, a town close to the famous Victoria Falls. Since Botswana is very near, I also booked a day trip to Chobe National Park to see some African animals next day. I can really recommend this day trip. I also went to Victoria Falls town (village) in Zimbabwe which is just across the border, walking distance from the border post. There are a lot of activities you can do either in Livingstone or Victoria Falls. I decided to take a helicopter sightseeing flight above Victoria Falls and the Zambezi river. I made a good deal. The price for a 10-15min flight was $165 but I managed to decrease the price to $135 with part of the deal being also upgrade to the longer 20-30min flight as there were already some passengers that had booked the long flight and therefore I could have joined them. It was a great experience. After returning back to Zambia I went on a 4-day camping safari to Kafue National Part before returning back to Lusaka for my return set of flights to Ljubljana.

Helicopter Robinson R44

Victoria Fall on the Zambezi River

Approaching the helipad

I took the following flights on my way home:

Lusaka (LUN) - Addis Ababa (ADD)
Flight number: ET873
Flight date: August 7, 2022
Aircraft type: Airbus A350-900
Aircraft registration: ET-AWN
Departure time: 15:55
Arrival time: 20:55
Scheduled flight time: 4h
Seat: 46L (window, last row)

Addis Ababa (ADD) - Brussels (BRU) via Vienna (VIE)

Flight number: ET724
Flight date: August 8, 2022
Aircraft type: Boeing 787-9
Aircraft registration: ET-AYC
Departure time: 00:35
Arrival time (BRU): 08:35
Scheduled flight time: 9h
Seat: 27H (aisle) - I moved to a window seat for VIE-BRU leg

Brussels (BRU) - Ljubljana (LJU)

Flight number: SN3343
Flight date: August 8, 2022
Aircraft type: Airbus A319
Aircraft registration: OO-SSN
Departure time: 14:05
Arrival time: 15:45
Scheduled flight time: 1h 40min
Seat: 20F (window)

Lusaka airport is located 27km from the city centre and it took around 30 minutes for a 450 Zambian Kwacha (€27) taxi ride. Lusaka has a new, upgraded terminal now which was opened last year. The airport is named after the first Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda. I arrived to the airport some three hours before the scheduled departure time. There was no queue at check-in counters. I managed to check in quickly and since online check-in was not possible, I tried to select my seats at the airport. Since Lusaka-Addis Ababa was a daytime flight I asked for a window seat but preferred an aisle seat for Addis Ababa–Brussels leg which was a night flight (you do not have to disturb your usually sleeping neighbours if you need to use a toilet during the flight). For the Brussels-Ljubljana flight I was also allocated a window seat.

Road to the airport

Lusaka Kenneth Kuanda International Airport

Check-in area

The Ethiopian A350 from Harare arrived on time and it parked at a remote stand, which meant we had to walk to the aircraft to board it. This was great as it allowed me to take photos that are impossible if you board using the jet bridge. Interestingly, remote stands were also used in Addis Ababa (both, arrival and departure) and Brussels (Ethiopian arrival). In Ljubljana, passengers from the front cabin used jet bridge to disembark while rear cabin passengers disembarked using the remote stairs.

I found out that there were no amenity kits given but this was not a problem for a 4-hour daytime flight. I must say that our A350 was the most worn out A350 I have flown so far. The window shade in a row in front of me was broken, the in-flight entertainment system for the middle seat of my row was not working (there was a ''loading'' notice all the way from LUN to ADD) - luckily, the middle seat was not occupied. The toilet also looked much older than it was - the aircraft was less than four years old. What bothered me most was the IFE control integrated in the top of the armrest. I constantly switched on the reading light or manipulated the screen menu by accident when I put my hand on the armrest. But besides these faults, I can not say it was an unpleasant flight. The cabin crew was professional and also the meal (chicken was the only option for me as I was seated in the last row) was surprisingly tasty. Having a seat in the last row or nearby has advantages and disadvantages. There is more chance that a neighbour seat would not be occupied but regarding the meal options, by the time the cabin crew come to you to serve you the meal, one of the options is usually not available anymore. We flew over Tanzania and Kenya before we reached Ethiopia and landed at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in the evening.

Boarding the A350 bound for Addis Ababa

Extra protected Chinese passengers

Disembarking at Addis Ababa Airport

I had an almost four hour layover at ADD airport before I boarded my second Ethiopian flight bound for Europe, in this case Vienna and Brussels. Regarding face masks, I can say that the situation on Ethiopian Airlines flights was pretty relaxed. It had been said that masks were obligatory but a lot of passengers did not use them and the crew had nothing against it. For the Brussels Airlines flight, there were no Covid related restrictions.

Ethiopian Airlines offers many flights which include stopovers. It is interesting though that for some sections they do not (can not) sell tickets, so for example you can not buy a ticket for VIE-BRU flight but you can book Ethiopian Airlines flight between Oslo and Stockholm (on a random date in mid-September one way ticket price is €75 with 20 kg checked baggage included ) or between Lusaka and Harare for example.

Ethiopian Airlines is one the the biggest airlines in Africa and also a member of Star Alliance. It has excellent connections within Africa (also flies to smaller, less known airports) and its fleet of around 140 airplanes in total consists of various aircraft types: A350, B787, B777, B767, B737-800, B737 MAX, B737-700NG and Q400 for regional and domestic destinations. I found Addis Ababa airport very easy to transfer, Wi-Fi is available free of charge and since I had enough time I relaxed a bit, charged my mobile phone, ate a soup and enjoyed their national Habesha beer.

Addis Ababa Airport

We used buses to board the B787-9 aircraft bound for Vienna and Brussels. The airplane was almost completely full (Lusaka-Addis Ababa leg was around three quarters full as per my estimation). I found B787-9 to be in better condition than the A350. No amenity kits were given this time either but we at least got a blanket and a pillow for the 6-hour night flight to Vienna. We were served a main meal (dinner) shortly after take off. I opted for beef this time and the meal was tasty again. After flying over Sudan, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea the lights were switched on again somewhere in Greek airspace and we were served a light breakfast, a muffin, coffee or tea and juices. We overflew Macedonian and Serbian airspace before we started our descent from the Hungarian sky to Vienna airport. We landed with a landing speed of around 260 km/h and parked at the terminal building so jet bridge was used for Vienna bound passengers to disembark. I will probably not exaggerate if I say that around 80-90% all passengers disembarked in Vienna. Altogether it was approximately an hour stop and passengers that continued their way to Brussels remained in the airplane.

Stopover at Vienna Airport

No new passengers boarded in Vienna so we were soon ready for takeoff. Since the aircraft was almost empty I moved to a window seat for Vienna-Brussels morning leg of the flight. Flight time was around an hour an a half, we were offered juice or water during the flight. After arrival to Brussels Airport the aircraft was parked at a remote stand (we arrived at approximately 8:30am and the same airplane returned back to Vienna same day at around 8pm before continuing its way back to Addis Ababa). Buses drove us to the terminal building. It did not take much time to pass the security check and immigration, before I entered the area for Schengen flights for the last, Brussels Airlines flight to Ljubljana.

Dimmable windows on the B787 Dreamliner instead of shades

The layover was mighty five and a half hours this time which meant I had plenty of time to kill at Brussels Airport. The airport is easy to transfer, you can find lots of shops selling Belgian chocolate and beer there, there is even a piano and you are free to use it if you want to surprise the airport passengers (in a good or a bad way).

The scheduled departure time for my Ljubljana flight was 14:05 and it was not delayed as was the case last time I flew the same route. Airbus A319 was used for our flight and it was a very calm and uneventful flight. Nobody bothered us, even the crew did not want to bother us by offering some free water or juices. We landed on time. I was seated in the rear cabin so I used remote stairs at the rear door to disembark and headed directly to the conveyor belt to collect my baggage. Waiting for my suitcase I also checked where the lost luggage counter was located, just in case. But it was not needed this time. It seems that Lusaka, Addis Ababa and Brussels airports are not as interesting as İstanbul Havalimanı.

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  1. Anonymous09:11

    Very interesting report. I really enjoyed it. Too bad about your bags, Ethiopian seems relatively decent. I noticed they will start Addis Ababa-Geneva-Manchester this winter and they will have fifth freedom between Geneva and Manchester. Interesting concept they have.

  2. Prepelica09:26

    Great report, Matjaz!

  3. Anonymous09:34

    As a Macedonian having visited over 100 countries, I have to say I too always run into Slovenes in the weirdest places, and always go for our lingua franca which is broken Serbo-Croatian. Last time I met Slovenes was in Bolivia. Very random indeed.

    1. Anonymous10:38

      Zambia is not weird and there are so many interesting places on the planet- you should know since you've travelled so much.
      And make some trip reports while you're at it.

    2. Anonymous15:47

      Well it’s not your typical destination. I totally understand what the guy above wanted to say. No need to be so bitter.

  4. Anonymous09:35

    Nice report and photos! Thank you

  5. Anonymous09:43

    Thank you for sharing! Great report! Would love to visit Zambia one day, I heard great things only. Regarding Ethiopian: I always have mixed feelings about this airline. I always feel like they invest a lot in getting new planes (which is great) but then they struggle to maintain them properly. And I do believe that their soft product (starting from the food quality) in Business is disappointing to say the least.

    1. Ethiopian Airlines is a great airline. Ever since I flew them the first time more than 20yrs ago, both internationally and domestically, I have nothing but appreciation for them. My best flight ever was on Ethiopian from Addis to London via Asmara. Fantastic flight routes around the planet, and connectivity, care of passangers, businnes at least, at the time they were celebrating 50th anniversary. An African gem.

  6. Anonymous11:03

    Bravo Bravo Bravo Amazing

  7. Anonymous12:52

    Wow amazing i would love to visit southern africa especially Zambia and Namibia

  8. Anonymous14:10

    Loved report by AV geek for AV geeks :-)

  9. Anonymous15:10

    Fantastic piece! Thanks for making an effort.

  10. JU520 BEGLAX15:26

    Thanks for sharing this good report to a very exciting destination.

  11. Anonymous16:49

    Brilliant report. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thank you for the effort to share your experience with us.

  12. Thanks for sharing trip report! I've been couple of times in Zambia 10+ years ago and you reminded me of Mosi-oa-Tunya, Lusaka, red dirt and red skys!

  13. Miss Zambia 9819:06

    Clicked on the piece coz it mentioned my country, stayed for the interesting flight description. I guess I'm officially an AV geek now 😂
    Too bad you found our capital boring, I get it, though.

  14. Bojan T22:34

    What an excellent article. I reluctantly booked a flight with Ethiopian Airlines from London to Gaborone in Dec but reading this definitely gave me some comfort. Also great reading about Zambia and seeing the pics, spent many teenage school holidays there with expat parents including two trips to Livingstone - best times ever. Thanks for this :-)

  15. Anonymous17:38

    Elaborate and interesting report

  16. Anonymous03:14

    Hello there!
    I am Zambian and must be thankful to your visit of our.
    I must say that we have a lot of catching up to score as a country.
    Nonetheless,you are all welcome to visit and share our local experiences.
    Thanks for the epic story

  17. Anonymous07:39

    Next time you are in Zambia try to see the south luangwa national park and the mutinondo wilderness. FYI Zambia has over 250 waterfalls. I ll be glad to show around next time

    1. Anonymous10:04

      too bad you are anonymus.......:))


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