Trip Report – Delta Atlanta (ATL) – Johannesburg (JNB) – BusinessElite B777-200LR – DeltaAssist Saves the Day!

It’s currently the world’s 4th longest flight, JNB-ATL, and this is my trip report round-trip from Atlanta to Johannesburg on Delta’s B777-200LR in BusinessElite. This is part one of a ten part trip report from my travels to South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

My itinerary was LGA-ATL-JNB-ATL-LGA and I was miraculously able to find availability at the Low SkyMiles level of 140,000 for the entire trip in BusinessElite / First about 65 days out. Now, the stopover in Atlanta gave me more than two hours to connect, but of course our NYC flights were delayed. We ended up leaving about 1 hour and 35 minutes late, meaning our flight to South Africa would be leaving 17 minutes after arriving in Atlanta. Our itinerary was similar to the following:

I decided to reach out to DeltaAssist on Twitter for help in-flight using the wifi …and I’m so happy that I did. They truly are empowered to make a difference and they managed to hold the flight for two of us while we ran down the terminal! There were no promises, but they sent a message to operations to let them know of our predicament. No one met us as we came off our LGA flight, but sure enough when we arrived at the JNB gate at the exact departure time (with everyone else already boarded), the gate agent told us to slow down and not to worry as they were holding the flight for us! Wow, I had never witnessed such service and was thoroughly impressed. Status at that time…Platinum.

Anyway, lessons learned – Delta Assist can be extremely helpful and make sure to give yourself generous time when connecting in/to/out of NYC (something most of us already know). There’s even a 45 minute connection that’s considered legal for LGA-ATL-JNB.  Note, my friend who was on the same flights the next day missed the connection and was re-routed via Amsterdam.

Once we made it on the plane we were ready to relax. The flight attendants already had two champagnes and mimosas waiting for us as we settled into our seats. Much has already been written about Delta’s B777-200LR seats, so I won’t bore you with much more…except that at 5′ 11″, I was pretty comfortable for the almost 17 hour flight that day! I was able to easily stretch my legs in the fully-flat position, though width wise it was a little tight (this is not Cathay First Class).

Service was excellent, the purser warmly greeted us and presented the menus and the flight attendants were just as friendly. When flying with a US legacy carrier, Delta certainly wins for top service. In terms of IFE, there was a large selection of new releases, classic movies, and HBO / Showtime onDemand.

Food – I tend to always enjoy the food in Delta BusinessElite and this flight was no exception. I went with the cod which also included the first course of shirmp with grilled pineapple / tomato basil soup and the second course of mixed green salad (which is always gigantic). The addition of cranberries and pine nuts was a nice addition to the salad. Everything was tasty!

There was also a mid-flight snack and pre-arrival meal. I was offered either the bagel or the fruit, or both…so I went with both. For the pre-arrival meal I selected the chicken sandwich.

Similar food service on the return…

The food was again tasty on the return and customer service was once again excellent. My club soda was continuously refilled and when they ran out (it is almost 17 hours), they switched to sparkling water for me.

So what did I do for 17 hours? I watched about 5 movies on the outbound and 6 on the return, napped a bit, listened to music, and watched some TV shows on my laptop. It’s going to sound crazy, but the time actually passed quickly. If you can get this award at the low level, it’s great not having to stop in Europe and is one of the best values for your SkyMiles. I’d even consider the itinerary at the medium level, as if you are like me, it may have cost you much less to obtain your SkyMiles compared to other loyalty currencies.

The only negative is the boarding process at JNB. It was complete chaos, forget about SkyPriority. It’s a free-for-all in terms of who can get on the plane first.

Huge thanks to The Weekly Flyer from Points, Miles, & Martinis for assisting with some B777-200LR pictures as well as to reader JackieATL (mine were destroyed in a water incident which you’ll read about in part 5, Cape Town).

Need help planning a trip with your miles? Consider Juicy Miles assistance for the best possible award pricing and routes!

Same aircraft type by Delta – see the 2016 review – Trip Report & Review – Delta ONE Sydney (SYD) – LAX – SYD (BusinessElite) with pajamas

Related

Other Delta Trip Reports:

Emirates

Cathay Pacific

Singapore Airlines

JAL

Pingbacks

  1. […] My last contact with Delta Assist was when I was flying DL 200 from Atlanta to Johannesburg. My LGA flight was delayed and I was worried about making the connection. Delta Assist actually contacted airport operations who held the flight for three of us (see – Trip Report – Delta Atlanta (ATL) – Johannesburg (JNB) – BusinessElite B777-200LR – DeltaAss…)! […]

Comments

  1. Awesome! I do want to point out that Southwest generally waits for passengers more often than not when they are aware of a tight connection where a misconnect would particularly inconvenience the passenger (like the last flight of the day), during gnarly TSA delays, etc. I have been on flights that waited and the flights have waited for me. If you are in that situation, just mention it to the flight attendant, the crew are generally more than happy to phone ahead for you. 😉

  2. Looking forward to reading your post about Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel. I am considering staying there next Feb. any feedback, tips and advice is very welcome 🙂

  3. Since the seats appear very isolated in this class, which two seats (window/middle or middle/middle) did you and your friend do and which would you recommend for traveling with a companion?

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