Flights to SA, long layover or long flight?

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Jul 16th, 2007, 08:02 AM
  #1
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Flights to SA, long layover or long flight?

We are will be flying from west coast US to South Africa next year and we need to decide what to do about the flights. Either we go Delta and have a hideously long 18 hour flight from Atlanta to JNB, or we go through London and have two 10 hour flights separated by an 7-8 hour layover. The London route would be longer overall. They both sound like so much fun that it is hard to pick. The prices are in the same ballpark. We will be flying coach.
I realize everyone has their own preferences, but I would love to hear comments from anyone who has done both.
ElenaY is offline  
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Jul 16th, 2007, 08:16 AM
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Have done both, plus thru JFK. There's really no difference ... simply do the one that best fits you. It's simply nothing one can alter. Think about the good things waiting in SA.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 08:16 AM
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We've done both, and I think each has its advantages. One advantage of going through Europe is that your worst jet lag will be on the day in Europe, rather than on your first day in Africa.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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I would go via Atlanta and avoid London if at all possible. There are far too many problems being reported by travelers connecting at Heathrow.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 08:56 AM
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I always do the direct flight. 18 hours is forever but it's over in 18 hours. (25 hours airport-airport usually for me) Going through London also is forever but takes twice as long.

I flew to Nairobi in January and it was US/London/Dubai/Nairobi. So plenty of time off the plane but for what? (39 hours airport-to-airport)

Give me the direct flight and I'm very happy. I think it's the lesser of two evils > !

Cindy
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Jul 16th, 2007, 09:19 AM
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hi, elena,

we set off tomorrow from the uk and are routed via amsterdam - CPT on the way out, Jo'burg on the way back.

were I flying from the US, I might think of a 2-3 day lay-over in amsterdam before flying onto SA. you could recover from jet-lag [it's on the same time as SA] and have a great time to boot.

and Schipol is very civilised compared to Heathrow.

regards, ann
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Jul 16th, 2007, 09:30 AM
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We just did this route, with my folks starting from SFO. We stopped in London for a day and a half, got in in the morning, went into the city, spent a good nights sleep, then visited with friends all day and left the next evening. Great if you have reason to be in London (or any other European city). It did add 2 days to the trip.

Coming home, another story. Flew CPT-JNB-LHR-ORD-SFO (for my folks), and ORD-ATL for me. NEVER AGAIN. It seemed to go on forever, and the jet lag was bad.
So my personal suggestions are if you are going to transit in Europe (or LHR), spend at least a night there to recoop. If not, fly direct, the most direct you can go, the better. Delta from ATL or SAA from JFK or IAD (Dulles).
I have never flown the direct route to Africa, but have done it going to Asia, and it really is much better.
The other thing I would personally reccomend, is spending one night in JNB before you start your travels in Africa. That one first nights sleep, really helps me get started on the right foot, it is so hard since you are so excited about being in Africa (at least for me).
I agree with Cindy's thoughts.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 09:33 AM
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My post crossed with Ann's, but I agree with her also. Amsterdam is a great city!
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Jul 16th, 2007, 09:34 AM
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I've done both and prefered the stopover in London just to be able to get off the plane, stretch and get some fresh air. The direct from JFK was too much time in the plane and I was miserable after the fuel stop.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 09:54 AM
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Unless you plan to spend a few days in Europe, go for it... straight through. After 10/hrs inside that silver bullet to anywhere, you feel no pain. Besides, you arrive JNB early evening, so can have dinner and off to sleep. You should be fine the next morning to start your holiday.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 11:55 AM
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haven't done it yet, but am planning on the straight shot - IAD - JNB. Pop the Ambien at what will be night time in SA/Bots to start getting acclimated, and watch a lot of movies when awake. I am worried about DVT with the Ambien, but getting some sleep is more important to me.
One thing that I have been researching is an extra seat purchase - you and DH/DW or whoever you are traveling with sit in window and aisle seats, but you also buy a ticket for the middle seat. This is cheaper than business, and you can stretch out. Or, some folks buy the seat in front of them, put that seat back down and stretch their legs out that way. I didn't know that airplane seats could be put down like a car seat, but in some planes apparently they can be.
I want to go straight through to get it over with and get to Africa quicker!!!
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Jul 16th, 2007, 12:13 PM
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If you connect through IAD, the SAA flight does not stop to refuel. It's around 14-15 hours. Unfortunately, the return flight does stop (in Dakar) and so it takes 18 hours.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 12:47 PM
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From the west coast I fly through LHR for family reasons. Leave SFO at 4:00pm on Virgin, arrive 10:30. Freshen up in Revivals, then link up with family. Back on the plane at 8pm for night flight to JHB. I usually find I sleep well becuase I've been up for 36 hours. Then I can arrive Mala Mala in time for lunch and afternoon drive, get lots of natural light and usually dont get much jet lag.
When I stayed an extra day in London, I slept fine in London, then was wide awake on the plane.
I would only go through LHR for two reasons - to see family and to fly Virgin Upper Class. Otherwise take an alternative European gateway city.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 01:10 PM
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"They both sound like so much fun that it is hard to pick."

You have an interesting "take" on fun!

I've done both as well. I will do the long flight whenever possible from now on. I figure I'm moving and getting there - and you save a day getting there. On my flight I was lucky in that I had an aisle, and the middle two seats were empty! So the woman on the other aisle and I each had some options for stretching. If you can grab aisle seats, I would do so.

It was nice to see London, but very exhausting, too.

I did the Washington, DC option. Living in the Midwest, it's easy to get there. From the West coast, you've got more air time to get to the East...

Let us know what you decide!
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Jul 16th, 2007, 01:11 PM
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We recently flew LAX-LHR-CPT and JNB-LHR-LAX on British Airways. I was glad to have the break mid-trip.

Our layover was only 4 hours, so that also played into my decision. Not sure if I'd opt for an 8 hour layover.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 05:55 PM
  #16
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I know the "best" option is a matter of personal preference, but it is so interesting to hear different takes on this. Whatever we end up doing, I will try to keep things in perspective and focus on where I am headed. I have been on one long flight - a 16 flight to Australia. I have to admit that after about 12 hours I was thinking some dark thoughts about the twitchy goofball sitting next to me. If it wasn't for books on tape, I would probably be in prison right now.
I do not have any experience with doing a layover to break up a long trip, so I was very curious to read what other had to say about it.
Anyway, I will be sure to post a trip report (not from prison,I promise).
Thanks again for your comments.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 05:58 PM
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Lets at least agree to use OR Tambo International vice JNB. LOL, but this website thrives on " "minutae" " of that type. Ciao, L
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Jul 16th, 2007, 06:13 PM
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JNB is still the designated code for O R Tambo Int'l Airport.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 06:31 PM
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We're flying through London to break up the flights more (tho our option was SFO>NY>Dubai>dar)

we haven't left yet but I'm regretting the LHR portion since we're a) changing carriers and b) sticking to carryon (and london has more restrictive carry on than other airports). But I am glad we get to wander off plane, get a nice lunch and relax before getting back on and flying some more.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 06:37 PM
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How's this for an itinerary? (mine in September)
Hilo-Honolulu 45 min with 12 hour layover in Honolulu. (hotel)
Honolulu-Hong Kong 14.25 hours including a 2 hour layover in Tai Pei.
Then an 8 hour layover in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong-Johannesburg 21.75 hours including a 5 hour layover in Dubai.
Total time from Hilo=56.75 hours
Shaved about 2 hours off the last trip going through SFO and LHR.
Have a stop-over in Dubai (1 day) and Hong Kong (2 days) on the way back, places I'd probably never go to without this itinerary, so get to see more of the world and more stamps in my passport!
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