Hello from Luanda! I’ll have more on our TAAG flight from Lisbon to Luanda shortly, though first wanted to share a funny situation we encountered.
As some of you may know, Luanda is generally regarded as one of the world’s most expensive cities, and Angola is also one of the toughest countries in the world to get a visa for, assuming you’re not traveling for business. However, I’ve heard that they’re sometimes flexible at immigration, and that it might be possible to talk your way into the country.
So we figured we’d give it a try for our roughly five hour transit. We’d obviously have very limited time to actually visit the city, though more than anything we were curious if it was possible. Also, having flown into Luanda at sunset, I now really want to visit, as it looked nicer than I was expecting.
Anyway, upon landing you can either head towards immigration or international transit. If you head towards immigration, the first stop requires you to provide your yellow fever vaccination. We’ve all had the vaccination, though stupidly two of us didn’t bring the form, since we had no plans to enter the country.
But last minute we still decided to give entering the country a try. We handed the guy our passports and explained we didn’t have our forms on us. He held onto our passports and told us to wait. As it turned out, that was because he needed to wait for all the other passengers so he could then leave his station.
He took us to the airport health clinic. I figured he was going to suggest that he give us shots on the spot, but really the clinic looked like it hadn’t been used in a long time. It had an awful smell and flies buzzing around, and rather seemed to mostly be used as a back office.
At this point my friend who speaks Portuguese had the following conversation with him, as he relays it:
“Do you not have your vaccination cards?”
“No we don’t, however we’ve all completed our vaccinations.”
“Okay, well… do you wish to enter Angola?”
“Well, we are transiting to Brazil in a few hours time and we wish to have dinner in Luanda.”
“Oh… okay. So you wish to enter Angola?”
“Well, we wish to have dinner during transit.”
“Okay… so where are your visas?”
“Oh we’re just in transit. We don’t have visas.”
“Okay, but where are your vaccination cards?”
“Unfortunately two of us don’t have our vaccination cards.”
I’d note that up until this point the door to the room was about a third open, and at this point he told us to close the door behind us, which is pretty telling.
“So do you wish to enter Angola?”
Given that we weren’t willing to take this conversation to its alternative natural conclusion, we excused ourselves at this point and headed to the international transit area. Now we’re enjoying the TAAG lounge, which doesn’t even have a functioning toilet.
For others, it sure seems like entering Angola without a visa is negotiable (the catch is that you’d need an onward ticket anyway, since they wouldn’t let you board if your destination is Angola and you don’t have a visa).