Posted from the business class lounge in Brussels Airport.
Too tired to write the serious piece, so some odds and ends.
Flying from (West) Africa to the US you have two alternatives. Air France through Paris, or Brussels Air (formerly Sabena) through Brussels. That’s not completely true…it depends on the country you’re in, but it’s true for Benin. So, which one to choose? Here are the factors to consider:
Travel dates: Brussels Air flies Tuesday and Saturday, Air France flies the rest of the days.
Frequent flyer: Brussels Air teams with United. Air France teams with Delta
Aircraft age: Air France’s planes are a little newer and a little nicer.
Transfers: I hate CDG. On the other hand, the layover in Brussels is 6+ hours, so be prepared.
American Food: CDG has McDonalds. BRU has Starbucks.
I have a bunch of miles on United (and Continental from my days in Houston and they’re merging so I get to use all my miles!) so I fly Brussels Air. 15,000 miles will get you an upgrade on the Brussels-US leg. Asking nicely at the airport will often get you an upgrade on the Cotonou-Brussels leg (they’re number 2, so they try harder).
Cotonou has an amazingly nice VIP lounge on the second floor you can use if you can talk them into the upgrade…or even just a lounge pass. TV, refreshments, computers, comfy chairs.
Brussels Air has several Business Class lounges in the Brussels Airport. The one in the otherwise awful T concourse may be the best. It has showers and booths for sleeping. If you’re headed TO Africa on Brussels Air, see if you can swing a pass!
Not that there’s anything wrong with the lounge I’m in. Croissants, coffee, juice, cereal and milk if that’s your thing. Computers or plug in network connectivity. WiFi you have to buy from the airport, but if you have a laptop it may be worth it to avoid the non-QWERTY keyboards. It is to me.
If you’re thinking of bidding Cotonou, there’s a new post video that may be available by the time you read this. After you see it, you’ll think all we do is lounge under the palm trees at the beach, drink beer at local hangouts, eat at nice restaurants, shop at Erevan (Beninese for Walmart) and enjoy our spacious houses. Please remember – this is a promotional video :).
The video ended up becoming someone else’s project (I shot a lot of raw footage, but never seemed to have time to edit it). Logan did a great job, using some of my video and shooting a bunch of his own. Everything you see in the video really does exist, but we did kinda leave out the potholes, and the piles of burning coconut shells, and the spottiness of the utilities from time to time.
But my favorite part of the video is the logo you see at the beginning. You see, there was a competition to design the embassy coin, and I lost. My design? The one on the post video. Savor the small victories! More people will see that video than ever look at our coin :).
And the beach IS nice!