ATL TO JNB - Economy..any recent experiences?

Aug 28th, 2005, 09:04 AM
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ATL TO JNB - Economy..any recent experiences?

I just discovered this is an 18 hour flight,eee gads! The last time I spent that much time on a plane was 25 years ago to Australia. I remember the torture of wanting off the plane like it was yesterday. Of course I was in the middle seat in between to very large men and thought I was going to go crazy. Ambien has been suggested on another thread. Have the seats been modified lately? Please give me some hope to hang on to, thanks!
CarlaM is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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Hello Carla,

I haven't flown this particular route, but I fly long-haul on a regular basis. It's never going to be pleasant to spend long stretches of time in coach, but there are a few tips which may make your flight more comfortable:

Make sure you don't get stuck in that middle seat again -- request your seats early and check in early. Those who check in late may find that their aisle or window has been given to someone else.

For long-haul flights like this, I prefer the aisle seat on the 'window' section (not the middle section). You have fewer neighbours climbing over you than in the middle, but you can still get up and move around easily. Sitting further forward in the cabin is usually quieter, as families with kids tend to be seated near the back so as to be close to the loos.

Drink lots of water. Drink lots of water. Drink lots of water. And DON'T drink alcohol -- alcohol will only magnify your jet lag by dehydrating you.

Dehydration is a major source of discomfort when we fly. Tucking a small tube of lotion on your bag may be helpful if dry skin tends to bother you when you fly. Bring a tube of Vaseline lip balm and use a bit of Vaseline (squeezed out onto your finger) to coat the inside of your nose if you tend to get nosebleeds or find that your nose becomes uncomfortably dry when you fly -- this can also help you avoid catching a cold when you fly. If you have a tendency to develop dry eyes, eye drops are a good idea. If you wear contacts, don't leave them in for the whole flight.

If it is an overnight flight (I believe it is), try to sleep -- a little Ambien may help (or staying up all night the night before to pack). For many people, sleeping is the easiest way to deal with long flights -- not only are you more rested when you arrive, you don't spend as much time conscious of the cramped conditions onboard. I prefer overnight flights for this reason.

Bring a JetRest or other inflatable pillow to help you sleep and avoid 'airplane neck'. Overnight international flights will usually provide eye masks and ear plugs, but you may want to check if this is the case for your airline. If not, bring your own. I always bring a travel face flannel, my shaving kit, and a toothbrush on a long flight.

When you are awake, move around the cabin every half hour or so. It will make you feel better (less cramped, etc) and will also lessen the likelihood of developing a DVT (deep vein thrombosis, or clot in the leg). Flight stockings and an aspirin a couple of hours before flying may also help reduce your risk.

Anything which helps you pass the time is good -- reading, writing in your journal, etc. This may be a good time to get acquainted with your digital camera manual if, like me, you never got around to figuring out what all the different modes are for. The more interested you are in something else, the less aware you are of the cramped conditions on the plane.

If you can afford it, an upgrade can go a long way towards soothing the pain of a long flight.

jasher is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 01:49 PM
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I'll also be curious to see replies. I could have booked LAX-ATL-JNB, but that 17-18 hr stretch kept me from it. I instead booked an overnight in AMS to break it up. I'll be in economy too and think all the above tips are good to remember
ALadyNCal is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 02:45 PM
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i'll be going coach honolulu-sfo-jfk-johannisburg in october and will let you know how saa is. they were/are supposed to be reconfiguring the seats in coach as they have the most complaints of any airline, hopefully they will be done by the time i fly!
matnikstym is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 03:05 PM
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It depends on the individual plane you're using. SAA has different seat layouts even for the same type of plane.

Aug 28th, 2005, 03:16 PM
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I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they have started reconfiguring the Airbus for the ATL/JNB flights. So it will be the luck of the draw.

Is SAA still flying the 747 out of JFK?
sundowner is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 03:16 PM
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mitch, in that case, i hope i get the one with the reconfiguration. the sfo-jfk is on song, should be comfortable that leg of the journey and i know the hnl-sfo will be nice.
matnikstym is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 03:18 PM
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sundowner-no, according to my ticket and seat assignment it is the airbus 300 or 600.
matnikstym is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 04:57 PM
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Dennis, have you checked the seat maps on the SAA website?
Aug 28th, 2005, 05:23 PM
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bwana-i tried to read them but on their website they are such low resolution that i can not make out the numbers. according to the saa agent who assigned the seats we are in row 15 or 50 (couldn't quite make it out with her accent) and 1 window, 1 aisle seat which will be fine considering.
matnikstym is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 05:37 PM
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There has been some great advice in answering your question. Also, each seatback has an individual video screen, so you can watch as many movies as you would like. This helps a bit. I never use sleeping pills, EXCEPT on this flight!! Ambien helps me get about 5 or 6 hours of sleep, which is incredibly helpful. I use earplugs and an eyemask, as well. Travel safely!
girlpolo33 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 08:51 PM
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We are fortunate on this trip to fly business class but when my husband and I travel on a long flight in coach, we ask for window seats one behind the other. That way we have something to lean up against to try to sleep and we are not awakened by people climbing over us to get out. And we figure we will be with each other for the rest of the trip. Ambien did not help us the one time we tried but it may be helpful to you.
mpkp is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 09:21 PM
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Great tips! Again Julian, thanks. The plane is a Boeing 747-400. Flying into Atlanta the night before, so it would be best to stay awake most of the night then I will be extra sleepy the next morning when we depart for Jo'burg.

Funny...the one time I had enough miles to fly first class to Europe, I accepted the pre-flight champagne, before dinner drink, wine with dinner, after dinner drink (you get my drift)and felt NO discomfort at all during the flight!! I could have spent my entire vacation on the plane it was so wonderful.

But will remember the water, water and more water in my econony seat this trip, boring....
CarlaM is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 09:53 PM
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ATL to JNB is not a 747-400 it is an airbus. The only US city serves by the 747 is Washington. The remainder are used on SAA's flights from JNB to London. In fact SAA are phasing out their 747s in favor of the airbus.
laguna92688 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2005, 08:32 AM
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That's good news Laguna, thanks. Guess the information I received in the mail regarding the flight is wrong.
CarlaM is offline  
Sep 25th, 2005, 08:53 AM
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if you're on the airbus 600, saa has reconfigured the seats, took out a few rows so less cramped but if you're on the 300 as I am out of JFK, no change but bringing Ambien!
matnikstym is offline  
Sep 25th, 2005, 03:16 PM
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Hi CarlaM, I just flew home jnb to atlanta SAA 5 days ago and the plane was very full. No room to spread out, no room to stand and hang out. I was the only one that I saw that got up regulary and walked. If you stand near the restrooms they tell you to sit. I had to stand near my seat. Pure torture except for the 5 hours of sleep. However on the way to JNB I flew out of washington, DC. Different plane much larger, request seat near back of plane hoping for empty rows. Yes I was in luck, there were at least 10 empty rows in back of plane, where front of plane was full. my mother and I each took a row of 4 seats, not our assigned before takeoff, we figured we would move if we had to, we never moved and slept like babies. Many people in the back had at least 3 seats. good luck, that flight was a piece of cake. I spoke with someone who goes to JNB often, they said the Washington, Dc flight is always half empty.
sandyca is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 10:00 AM
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We just flew this exact flight in June (with an added leg from Chicago to Atlanta on the way out and Maun to Johannesburg on the way back). It was actually better than I feared. I assume you are going South African Airlines. The flight attendents (especially on the way over) were wonderful. On the way back they were not quite as good, but still not terrible. The food was good and the wine was free (and good since it was South African wine)! Therre was a TV monitor in the back of the seat in front of me and except for the fact that I had to lean way back to see it since the person in fornt of me was leaning way back, it was great. They gave you free headsets and then you could pick from about 15 different movies. I watched 2 1/2 on the way over (plus read 1 1/2 books) and 2 more on the way back (again with 1 1/2 books) Obviously I don't sleep on planes and I thought I would go nuts, but I really didn't. As one of my friends said (who flies to New Zealand regularly) "you just have to wrap your head aroung the fact that it will be a long flight and accept it." The experience once we got to Africa more than made up for the length of the flight. The seats are not great, but there seemed to be a decent amount of leg room. My husband and I were in the seats on the window so it was just the two of us. You land at the Cape Verde islands, but you can't get off and they really don't want you to even be standing in the aisles, although many people do get up and stretch.

One word of warning - I found I HATE Jo'burg airport. When waiting for a plane to baord there are no seats near the gate. They don't board by row numbers so people just line up about 1/2 hour before and stand in a long line snaking down the terminal hallway. There is also not much willingness to help. I fell over a kneewall that was not well marked and I hurt my leg pretty badly (I still have a scar 3 months later). We had to actually go find someone to get me some ice and I never got much more that a mumbled apology from anyone. Since I then had to go stand in a line for 1/2 hour to board the plane - let's just say if I can avoid Jo'burg in the future I will.
jcasale is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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Sorry to hijack - er, bad wording for this thread, I guess....but to latch on. How's that? But I'm wondering the pros/cons of flying via Europe rather than the non-stop flight. Is it cheaper one way or the other? If forced, I'd rather spend a night in London or Amsterdam than Atlanta or DC.... (Nothing against these cities..but it's Europe!) Any thougths on the two ways to get over there? (Joburg)
cooncat is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 03:39 PM
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Cooncat! Saying hijack on my thread..yikes! I think I would prefer to fly to Europe and overnight it instead of ATL, but since I didn't plan this trip I am just going along with what the gang has planned.

I will have LOTS of time to read my camera manual on the plane. Hoping that by the end of Nov the flights won't be filled to capacity, since it won't really be the peak season, its a 50/50 chance I have heard.

I am just psyching myself up for this long haul.
CarlaM is offline  

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