On the Ground: Our flight to Johannesburg was scheduled to depart at 12:50 p.m. and we arrived at Dulles with plenty of time. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it turned out), when we arrived we discovered that our flight was now scheduled to depart at 5 p.m. The good news was that we were flying on a new route, which would eliminate a scheduled stop in Dakar and cut three hours off the flying time.We headed for the check-in counter, hoping to deposit our luggage and get some work done in the lounge. Unfortunately, no one was there. About an hour later, an agent from another airline arrived and began checking in the now growing line of travelers. Once through security we went to the lounge South African Airways shares with British Airways. The lounge attendant snippily told my companion he could not enter, as only I was flying business class. She suggested I ask at the SAA counter for a pass for him. I tried, but the SAA representative refused and said he would have to wait outside the lounge for me. Instead, we both waited outside the lounge and charged our laptops at a nearby electrical outlet.
On Board: I admit feeling guilty pleasure as my companion and I parted ways at the door. My seat was spacious and private, and a smiling attendant greeted me by name and offered me a beverage. I reclined, put my feet up and settled back with the seat massager. I chose the crab salad and the gnocchi for my meal, though the traveler next to me had an attractive plate of lamb chops that I wish I had ordered. After my orange-apricot pie, the attendant brought me a down comforter and a few plush pillows. I reclined with The Devil Wears Prada on my private screen until my eyes were almost closed and then drifted off in the spacious lie-flat seat for the remainder of the 16-hour flight.
The Experience: I could hardly believe we were almost in Johannesburg when I awoke. I am a fitful sleeper at best, but somehow, I had a deep, full night’s sleep en route to a destination on the other side of the world. Must have been that cozy comforter. I enjoyed a long, luxurious breakfast of smoked salmon, grilled asparagus and various fresh breads, then awaited our descent into the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg, completely refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
Total Score: 96/100
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