In protest of the fear-driven omicron flight bans from Southern Africa, I am traveling to South Africa…for a day.
My One-Day Trip To South Africa
Thus far, it seems that the omicron variant may be a blessing in disguise. No virus is actually a blessing, but if this strain is highly transmissible but not nearly as severe (as it often the case as a virus evolves in order to survive), we stand a better chance of reaching herd immunity faster…and that will ultimately mean fewer lives lost and a smaller chance of a more lethal variant springing up.
Of course I’m not traveling to South Africa to “catch” omicron and spread it in the USA. I’ll be following all health and testing protocols (hopefully not getting stuck here a couple weeks versus 24 hours). But I take this trip in protest of the continuing knee-jerk, fear-based, punitive, unscientific public policy to block travelers from South Africa and surrounding nations.
South Africa, if you recall, had the integrity and honesty to self-report the omicron variant, giving the world a head start in tracking it. But instead of thanking South Africa for its service to the world, much of the world responded by shutting down traffic from South Africa and other nations in Southern Africa. That may have been appropriate for a week, out of an abundance of caution, but it is now clear that such measures disproportionately punish the people of Africa when omicron is (and was) already in our midst.
And as UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted:
I am now deeply concerned about the isolation of southern African countries due to new COVID-19 travel restrictions. The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available in Africa – and they should not be penalized for identifying and sharing crucial science and health information with the world.
I appeal to all governments to consider repeated testing for travelers, together with other appropriate and truly effective measures, with the objective of avoiding the risk of transmission so as to allow for travel and economic engagement,
Yes, yes, yes! Thank you Mr. Secretary.
So I’m flying United to Johannesburg via Newark.
I actually booked Lufthansa First Class back, in order to pick up the Christmas duck and enjoy my traditional goose dinner in Lufthansa First Class, but I will fly United instead. As much as I’d love to fly two segments in Lufthansa First Class this week, I cannot justify the expense when I am generating miles so slowly these days. Plus, with the travel ban in effect, flights between Newark and Johannesburg are easy to upgrade.
I’ll save the miles for my family.
And as for my time in J’berg, I’ll do my small part to contribute to the local economy by staying in a hotel, dining out, enjoying coffee, and using Uber. It won’t be much, but every little bit helps.
I’ve never been to the Southern hemisphere during Christmas time before…it will be a bit strange to have a warm weather and holiday lights. But I’m looking forward it. And I hope that the travel ban will soon be relaxed and the economic recovery can resume for South Africa and its neighbors.
No Christmas in Germany w. the fam? I remember those 4J SWISS tickets thru LM 🙁
Had to cancel those, unfortunately. There are other complications at play – we will still go.
Just be aware that mere presence in South Africa puts you on other countries’ shit lists for the next 2-3 weeks unfortunately. If you needed to travel to the EU for example that would mean quarantine.
Yes indeed. Trip already occurred – I don’t live blog for my own protection.
10 day waiting period to travel to Germany in order to avoid quarantine.
Then why do you blog in the future tense and deceive your readers?
Deception? come on, man. he already explained “I don’t live blog for my own protection.”
I’m not trying to deceive anyone and don’t consider a 72 hour lag time deceptive – you should read some of the threats I receive in my inbox. Any “live” trip report you get from me was written live, but I’m already gone. Sadly, that is the world we live in, even for a modest aviation blog like mine.
I must say its WILD you receive threats…. good lord, what is wrong with people
Stop arguing and just use the past tense when you’re posting something that has already occurred.
You are just undeniably lame
I had to swap a flight last week that would have had me changing planes in JNB because I have to transit the UAE next week and the two are not compatible. Can’t even hide it because SA stamps passports even when in transit.
It had never crossed my mind that travel blogging could be a risky business, and I don’t think I have read about any incidents where it’s gone horribly wrong.
If you don’t mind me asking, is your approach purely precautionary, or have you received threats and/or come across things that have left you concerned about your safety?
If it’s not getting too personal, I’d like to know as well. Frankly I’d never considered that there could be a dark underbelly of travel blogging in a situation like yours. If bringing some of the less mentioned downsides to light would help, I think you’d have a receptive audience.
I won’t discuss it here, but in due time I will.
What about my sh!t list??
Enjoy your short time in South Africa, why don’t you stay longer? We have one of the coldest and wettest Decembers in many years.
Would love to, but had to get back home and “isolate” before trip to Germany.
Love this so much. America was built on doing stuff we are told not to.
Other than the “protection” thing. Somehow I doubt you are on anyone’s target list. You’re not that polarizing a figure in my mind.
Not a polarizing figure?!? He makes Hunter look like Pope Francis.
the Tucker and Hunter friendship revelation is very interesting.. this shit runs deeper than we thought. I never watched Tucker, just a few clips here and there.
He was on point about the Cuomo brothers, linked below.
the fog of war is thick.
Did you get your booster?
No. Plan to get that shortly, though. There’s some discussion whether I should get a third jab of Pfizer or try Moderna or JJ.
I got mine at the Scientology Kaiser in East Hollywood on Monday, the line was very long. I originally received Moderna and I chose to get the Pfizer booster.
You smart punk. I hot two Moderna and Pfizer too, Love that mix-and-match approach, and the data seems to bear it out!
@burritomiles: You smart punk. I had two Moderna and Pfizer too, Love that mix-and-match approach, and the data seems to bear it out! @Joe T As far as I know, South Africa’s medical system is world class @Will you reveal your character when you call Dr. Fauci “the Lord and Savior of COVID.”
Matthew, you made a really dumb move. As in, extremely dumb. If you had the booster, I would have said bravo you, but you just put your wife (who works in nursing) and your two unvaccinated (unless your son is vaccinated, in which case your one unvaccinated) children at risk. That was actually an extremely dumb decision. The vaccines without the booster are about 22.5% protective against Omicron. These travel bans were put in place for a reason, to keep your family safe and other American families safe. This also puts the patients that Heidi sees every day at unnecessary and grave risk.
I don’t dismiss what you are saying, (I should have got my third jab a month ago) but I think the point about “protecting” Americans always has a trade off and the cost/benefit analysis currently weighs far too heavily on the pendulum of caution considering the grave economic depression I personally witnessed during my time in J’berg. I broke no laws or regulations in visiting South Africa and won’t apologize for voicing my protest to punitive travel bans that so adversely impact nations trying to do the right thing.
I agree with you but there was a way to do it that would have kept your wife and kids safer. No apology is needed for protesting, I actually agree with your protest, these things are so absurd it isn’t funny. What I don’t agree with is that you put your family at risk. Your children are too young to have a say in whether or not you did this. They did not have the ability to protest your decision as they do not understand this pandemic well enough. Although I do not believe that you intended to behave in this way (you’re intention was good and noble, not to control), what you did would fit my definition of child abuse. You knowingly put your unprotected children at risk of a lethal disease, and a toddler does not, in my opinion, have the ability to consent to you participating in this activity. I just hope that your assault does not lead to harm for your children, and that someone will teach them to speak up as you have done, AND ALSO TO SPEAK UP FOR THE DEFENSELESS, as you have not done.
Please look at the DATA regarding Omicron
It is generally a mild illness akin to the COMMON COLD
It’s too early to know that for sure. Plus, he doesn’t have the booster jab, which makes him very likely to get it. We also don’t know the long term effects. I have seen the same thing you have, but can’t trust it just yet.
Bruh- take a chill pill. Sitting on your computer angry commenting and asking about vaccines is superbly lame. The fact you think its appropriate to comment on his family shows you are just garbage. Read it for the airlines, travel, and other- leave his family and personal risk assessments out of it. Clown
@Will, I don’t
it’s appropriate to talk about his family, I
it’s not only appropriate, but necessary. Matthew engaged in behavior that I would consider abusive. We need to call him out on that. Instead of defending him, how about we band together and stand up to his arrogant, entitled attitudes? This is how we stop abuse and assault in this world. What he did was not a noticeable assault, as a domestic violence perpetrators’ battering is. Instead, it is the complete willingness to bring an invisible enemy into his childs’ lives that has the potential to kill them, when he himself
that he is doing it.
@Will, I’m not taking a chill pill. Be mad all you want, whine and complain all you want, but I believe in holding abusers to account. And so, I am declaring, for everyone to see, that Matthews’ actions are that of an abuser.
Are you a little bit slow there? Im 0% mad, and your argument is that his traveling to SA would spread a virus that….stick with me here…. is already well established where he lives in CA. Gotta do some mental gymnastics to find anything resembling logic in your contention. Honestly, your fascination with the health of his children is creepy. Take a lap and get out of the basement for a day, it is beautiful outside. (BTW, the lord and savior of COVID, Fauci, says, and I quote: “no doubt vaccinated individuals will be infected by Omicron”.
@Will: I have nothing intelligent to say to your load of nonsense. I’m just replying to get you riled up because I, personally, find idiocy to be amusing, a free comedy routine. It’s always fun when someone who has the brain the size of a pinky fingernail tries to implant his wisdom on the world.
Who takes care of your kids when you travel and your wife is working as a nurse? With covid heating up again, I imagine nursing is all hands on deck.
All my family lives in LA.
Anyone who cries “think of the children!” in relation to COVID-19 (un)vaccination is innumerate and unhinged. There is virtually zero risk of severe outcomes/death from COVID-19 in children. There are, however, negative side effects from vaccination that could negatively impact children for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, you are not alone among the Munchausen-by-proxy scaremongers.
starting to think Alan is the new incarnation of UA-NYC
“…in order to pick up the Christmas duck and enjoy my traditional goose dinner in Lufthansa First Class…”
Two birds with one trip, eh!
Missing this was the most depressing part, as Lufthansa just put goose back on the menu. When I checked a couple weeks ago, it was gone and Lufthansa told me on Twitter that some traditions are meant to end.
What health and testing protocols did you follow?
PCR test prior to flight, test in advance of return to USA, masking is compulsory indoors and outdoors in South Africa, hand sanitization required upon entering any building.
I wholeheartedly endorse your decision to do this. There is no incentive for any country to announce the discovery of a variant of covid given the response of the world to SA.
I wouldn’t go anywhere that required one to wear a mask outdoors though. That’s just extreme dumbness on the part of authorities.
God, you are just undeniably lame. Imagine- sitting at home and typing anonymously to another man asking personal questions to seem cool online to a group of people who neither know who you are or care about you (Yes the irony of my typing is not lost on me- but the strange replies by the army of clowns, especially mentioning his family- is creepy and in need of a response)
I’ve had a rough life, ever since I got kicked out of college.
^ lol, that was funny
Will anyone defend this thug? This marks the disgusting behavior of a deranged, depraved, and petulant little man.
Nice to see you back.
Geez, you just posted a story, and now get slimed, even though you are not any kind of rogue actor. You test, you are vaccinated, and considerate. I wish during the holidays, people could, just for a moment, let others have a little fun. I hope Matthew won’t be dispirited!
I know where you’re getting that line. Matthew isn’t a thug. Let’s not forget that his intention was good. He did not think about the implications of this trip for his children, or that they had no say. I hope that Matthew learns a lesson from this, because I don’t see him hurting a fly on purpose. I would hope that he feels truly terrible for assaulting his children, and will change his behavior in the future. To label him a thug would not be accurate. A good man who harmed the two people he was supposed to protect, and who made a very bad mistake, should be more accurate. I think that he won’t do this again, because he truly did not know the extent with which he abused his children, and now that he does, he will change.
Lol, so being in south africa automatically means getting omicron? This is quite ignorant to say the least and offensive. It’s akin to the person who thought flying to SA would put her at risk of HIV. FYI, the variant is everywhere, and there could be worse variants in US
This isn’t about getting Omicron. The way I live my life, for example, would not be characterized as “responsible” by most people, including @Greg mentioned above. He probably would have a harsh word or 20 about the fact that I dine indoors. Here’s the difference: I have no children, and while I live with my partner, my partner has a voice, and has the ability to safely and intelligently push me to not do this if my partner feels uncomfortable with me doing this. If my partner expressed that, I would stay out of restaurants. Matthews’ situation is completely different. His children are living with him, and they have no say in his decisions. If you live with someone during a pandemic, then you have a right to have a say in the lifestyle choices of the other person, for your own safety. But a child does not have the ability to adequately express, or understand, this. That child is
to the lifestyle choices. Matthews’ toddler and his five year old are exposed to this behavior and have
no way to stop it.
I would have no objection if they could make informed objections. If they could understand what he is doing, know how this could affect them, and then, still agree that it is OK and safe for him to partake in such an activity. It’s literally no different than sex.
@Alan – We don’t dine indoors, so I have no objection to you doing so. I agree with you regarding Matthew’s children’s inability to object, although I don’t think we should discount the risk he posed to people who might unknowingly be vulnerable.
Ultimately it comes down to this being a trip to nowhere for no benefit other than miles and publicity. I think that was a poor decision and quite selfish.
The only thing being abused here is yours and Greg’s standing as anything resembling a normal person- take a lap creeps.
@Will: take a lap of what? The track? Walk around the block? The pool? I swam competitively for 12 years, we should race sometime.
Cool flex, I guess? Congrats on the swimming- that might be the lamest “Let’s take this outside” I have ever seen
Score one for me… 🙂
So he shares one aspect of his life and you are all up in arms. What makes you think his family isn’t in on it? And what makes you think he isn’t involved in other higher risk activities. He seems to be a christian and I see that many churches in the US have regular gatherings, that may be more risky than traveling to SA. Chill guys
@Ken: I believe that his family was not in on it because his children
be in on it. They are too young to fully understand what he is doing. That’s my objection.
Since children also cannot consent to driving in a car, being given a bath, taking swimming lessons, consuming possible allergy inducing foods or medicines, or any other host of possibly risky activities, should we just place them in padded rooms until they can cognitively consent to any actions? You’re an idiot
Chivas: I’m fine with sarcasm and humor but not in this case.
there are legit actual people in these comments thinking Matthew is some kind of bad guy for taking this trip, which is insane.
many of your posts have been comical, but the timing was wrong on this one.
but otherwise when appropriate please feel free to keep up the humor. it’s often spot on.
@Matthew – I’m a big fan of yours, and this blog is my favorite airline blog. But I am stunned and angry that you would do this.
This sort of gesture is like Hollywood types flying their private jet around the world to bring attention to the risks of climate change, except that you might actually kill somebody directly by doing so.
The reason I’m angry and not just disappointed is because I have friends and family who live in LA (including physicians who might very well take care of you if you wound up on ECMO). I myself live in California. You put everyone at risk to buy a cup of coffee.
Although Omicron is certainly in California, you incrementally increased the risk of transmission of Omicron (and/or whatever yet unknown variant might be circulating in RSA) in my state and the region where people who are important to me live. For nothing more than some self-centered publicity scheme.
Look, I’ve done some stupid RTW trips for miles over the years, including 18 hour stops in JNB. But not during a flareup of the worst pandemic in 100 years, when I have a little kid at home and healthcare facilities back home are rapidly becoming overwhelmed.
What were you thinking? Please at least tell us what you’re doing (or if you are doing anything) to isolate and protect your family and the rest of the community from your vainglorious folly.
seriously, so being in SA automaically means getting omicron and “whatever yet unknown variant…in RSA”, what makes you think there aren’t worse variants in California or that he didn’t put people in RSA at risk?
@ken I didn’t say that being in RSA automatically means getting omicron. I said it incrementally increases the risk. And you’re right, there may be worse variants in California, but since he lives here, that’s “priced” into the risk already. I hadn’t articulated the risk he posed to people in RSA, which is a good point that I should have mentioned. It wasn’t just selfish and potentially dangerous with respect to Californians, but also to South Africans. In any event, it was a foolish stunt.
priced into the risk? what cost center are we charging this to? your FY21 budget or FY22?
There is a 99% chance you are typing in a basement, sad and angry. Chill out- Covid, variants, it’s everywhere- you, nor anyone, can do anything to stop or slow it, 2 years in still can’t quite sort that can ya. Take a lap ya clown (Hate to break it to you- Matt most likely (at least I hope) could care less about your opinions are incessant droning. Cool vocab though- so impressive with the thesaurus
Nope, I’m sitting in a nice big private office with 7 windows, just taking a break from interminable conference calls and wishing I was back traveling internationally.
Thanks for the compliment regarding my vocabulary. The funny thing is that 21 years of school and a couple of graduate degrees means that I don’t have to consult a thesaurus very often, but thanks, anyway.
7 windows and 21 years in school…Congrats?… Weird flex. Gotta wheel and deal on those conference calls, so impressive to a group of anonymous online commenters
Also what makes you think he didn’t consult his family before travelling? You guys should chill, flying to SA doesn’t equate to Omicron, not any more than any of his other private activities which you do not know about. I have no interest in his life by the way but I think people should get off their high horse. It’s his decision, and he probably spoke with his wife about it
@Ken I don’t actually care about his family. I assume you’re correct and he talked it over with his family. I care about the community and the healthcare workers who could be affected by this stupid stunt.
And let’s be clear – although the trip was a stupid stunt, Matthew isn’t stupid. He knew that this would be exactly the response. If he hadn’t wanted that response, he would have taken the trip and not posted about it.
@Greg- So, you’re argument is that we can prevent COVID’s spread by people limiting travel, getting vaccinated, and locking down…. I feel like I’ve been here before… This is all just beyond lame. Grown men and women yelling at another grown man for…. oh right, not worshiping at the alter of COVID continued hysteria.
Everybody is different. You will most likely not catch the virus in South Africa. But have you thought about if by remote chance you do. Is the hospitals and medical facilities the same standards as in the U.S? Will your medical insurance cover a extended hospital stay outside the U.S? I hope you and your family well if you are unable to return to the U.S in a timely manner. I wish you safe travels!
bad idea. as bad as the virus is it does not come close to the threat of global warming.
think before you fly!
You seem so desperate for any attention. What a waste of time and money. Not to mention being a terrible father putting your kid at risk and abandoning them for no reason. Plenty of other ways to accomplish this. Just admit you’re an airline fanboy and want to maintain your status instead of grand standing.
Take a break from the. basement, isn’t good for Vitamin D levels
You seem to have some strange obsession with people in basements. You might want to get that checked out.
Wow. So many in Waco, apparently.
How are things at the compound?
The comments on this story are truly horrifying. How are this many Branch Covidians in existence?
May God help us all.
^ this post was not supposed to be a reply to Jon. should have been a new post, oops.
however, yes, Jon, some of us love aviation and some of us do whatever the f we want to do in life.
you could die in any instant, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
if you haven’t noticed, the world is at a breaking point where there either be mass enlightenment or mass global destruction.
those are the only two choices humanity has at this point.
currently we seem to be full steam ahead with destruction.
so let’s let people do what they want to do while there is still time.
So glad you could make this trip, Matthew. I am normally supportive of COVID restrictions and being very careful. But having these travel restrictions from southern Africa still in place is overkill and will encourage other countries to be less forthcoming in the future. My daughter and granddaughter, who live in Zambia, just flew home (LA area) for Christmas by way of that JNB-EWR United flight. I had booked them in business class on Lufthansa using United miles. Due to a cancellation of their flight from Zambia causing a missed connection, United was very gracious in opening up 2 business class saver seats on their own flights all the way to LAX. I didn’t even have to ask. They offered it. United sure came through!
nice for United. but who defines overkill? subjective.
it’s all overkill.
therefore, end all restrictions.
Brandon will cringe in his basement.
COVID hysteria is still out of control — two years later — truly unbelievable.
let’s see what the elite have up their sleeves next. think I heard smallpox.
Hope not, but if so, these Branch Covidians ain’t seen nothing yet.
“You got the vaccine, you’re not going to get COVID”,
I truly don’t know where to begin. People say I’m a crazy commenter but WTF this article takes the cake.
this shit is really just insane at this point. they will be doing this until the end of the world.
Matthew, aside from all the hysteria here about viruses, variants and very hyped up opinions, I wanted to move away from that and talk about Christmas in the southern Hemisphere. After a few years living in London, I have to admit that I throughly enjoyed my first Christmas back in Sydney because it reminded me of everything I missed about Xmas in Australia. Where you wake up and the temperature might already be 22 degrees Celcius. Where Xmas lunch might be the whole European fare with roast turkeys or hams, but is more likely to be cold dishes like prawns and salads because it’s too hot to put the oven on! In the afternoon, there’s usually a cricket match on that all the “blokes” or men become glued to the TV to watch. Ans usually with a lot of beer consumed. On Boxing Day, everyone eats leftovers from Xmas lunch. And on both days in coastal cities, Aussies like to head to the beach to swim and surf, Even world famous Bondi Beach is celebrated for hosting backpackers from all over the world, to mingle, drink and party together. It really is so different from a winter in the northern Hemishpere, with all the cold….
Reading the comments I can’t help humming The Smiths song, “Panic.” “Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ.”
what drugs are these people on
repost for those in the back:
“People are afraid of being uncool “conspiracy theorists” so they perform amazing feats of mental acrobatics to deny any connection between obviously related events.
The worst offense of twisted “Covid” illogic is the insistence that there is no nexus between the emergence of a pathogen, the preparation by private and state actors to put the “New Normal” into place, & the digital ID system deployed under the pretense of vaccine tracking.
There are people, many of them, who theorize that this is all just a giant coincidence, that “covid” created a genuine need to track every human to ensure he’s pharmaceutically “immune” to a 0.96% IFR flu, at that the various ID tech organically sprang up to fill this need.
Coincidence theorists refuse to believe that powerful organizations have been planning for years to implement the ‘New Normal’.”
Correlation doesn’t equal causation.
All I know is that a lot fewer vaccinated people are dying in ICU’s around the world than unvaccinated people.
If you’ve got something credible to explain that other than the vaccines being effective (nothing is 100% effective), I’m all ears.
The plural of ancedote is data.
And that isn’t true re: ICU’s. that is the MSM narrative which is a LIE.
I’ve already posted this from December 3rd on another article, but here you go:
I don’t give the UK government credit for much nowadays but at least they have scrapped the red list pretty quickly after bringing it back for countries in southern Africa.
What deeply irresponsible behavior.