Around The World In 21 Days: Delta Comfort+ ECP-ATL-JNB


  1. Introduction
  2. Delta Comfort+ ECP-ATL-JNB
  3. Hilton Sandton
  4. British Airways Economy JNB-PLZ
  5. Conrad Pezula
  6. Knysna and the Garden Route
  7. Westin Cape Town
  8. Exploring Cape Town + Penguins!
  9. British Airways Economy CPT-JNB
  10. Protea Hotel OR Tambo Airport
  11. Kenya Airways Economy JNB-NBO-DXB
  12. DoubleTree Hotel Jumeirah Beach
  13. Exploring Dubai
  14. Kenya Airways Economy DXB-NBO-SEZ
  15. Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort
  16. Exploring Mahe Island
  17. Kenya Airways Economy SEZ-NBO-BKK
  18. W Bangkok Hotel
  19. Exploring Bangkok
  20. Vietnam Airlines Economy BKK-HAN-NRT
  21. Back In Tokyo!
  22. Delta Air Lines Main Cabin NRT-DTW-ATL
  23. DoubleTree Atlanta Airport
  24. Delta Air Lines Comfort+ ATL-ECP
  25. Conclusion

In my previous post, I talked about all the ins-and-outs of getting this trip all lined up including booking the flights and why I booked it in Economy Class, or as Delta now calls it “Main Cabin”. I would be finding myself for 15.5 hours experiencing Delta’s Economy product, or because I was Platinum at the time of booking, I was in Delta Comfort+ which is the rebranding of Economy Comfort. Confused yet?

There would be no way to upgrade this flight, just like all the other segments, and a month out the flights started to look a bit on the full side. Would I get lucky and not have anyone sitting next to me? I desperately crossed my fingers in hopes that not only would I have a few extra inches in front of me from the increased pitch in this section, but to the side as well.

One thing I did not talk to in my previous post was that I had originally been looking at trying to route to South Africa via Amsterdam on KLM. This could have taken me into Cape Town versus Johannesburg and allowed me to get started on the Road Trip journey faster. And of course reduces the number of internal flights one would have to take. Plus, I could have had the added benefit of a long layover in Amsterdam to head into town for a few hours. Unfortunately though, I could never get the inbound flights to work out. This resulted in me having my one option: fly Delta all the way down, on the 2nd longest flight in the world.

Delta Air Lines #2506
Panama City, FL (ECP) to Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Depart: 2:32PM Arrive: 4:48PM
Aircraft: Airbus A319 Seat: 1B (First Class)

Unfortunately due to an accident involving my car (getting hit in the parking lot at work on my way home to finish packing and head to the airport), I was cutting it a bit close to getting to the airport. I was dropped off at the curb by my Mom (Thanks!) about 50 minutes before my flight, but made my way inside to the Sky Priority line inside and was quickly helped. The agents at ECP are usually pretty good, but it did take me a little bit to get checked in for my flight today. It appears the agent was new and my complicated itinerary must have confused her or something. Another agent came over to help her out and then with my duffel bag tagged it was off to the TSA checkpoint.

By the time I got through and had made it upstairs to the concourse, the inbound aircraft had just pulled into the gate. Good timing as I wouldn’t have to stand around the gate area!

Delta Air Lines A319 – Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP)

I had fortunately been upgraded a few days out thanks to being a Gold Medallion member, so at least my quick 45 minute flight up to Atlanta would be in relative comfort. Once boarding was called, I made my way onboard, stowed my bag in the overhead and plopped down into seat 1B. The flight attendant working the First Class cabin quickly started going through and asking if anyone wanted a pre-departure beverage. I, being ready to start my vacation immediately, especially after the car accident, went straight for the vodka! Yep, might as well sit back and relax and enjoy this, because after Atlanta it would be all too many hours in an Economy seat.

The flight itself was rather unremarkable. The flight attendants did a service shortly after take off in First Class, and I got another drink as well as some Biscoff cookies (because that is just what you do). The occasionally came back through, but I just stuck to the one drink. I didn’t want to make that long flight miserable after all.

We arrived into Atlanta on time and being in seat 1B, was the first person off the aircraft. I had a little over two hours to kill in the airport, and with my flight leaving out of Concourse F, made my way directly to the Sky Club there.

Delta Sky Club – Concourse F
I’ve written about this club a number of times before. It’s one of my favorite Sky Clubs in the system, primarily because of the large windows in the main area and the outdoor deck (“Sky Deck”) next to the bar area. And of course showers.

But before I went into the lounge, I decided to grab a quick meal since I had not had time to have lunch by going over the Varsity in Concourse F in the food court across from the Sky Club. I chowed down on a burger before heading back over to the lounge where I could wait in comfort.

Concourse F Sky Club

Upon entering the lounge, I was greeted by the agents, most of all whom looked (or at least felt) familiar. After getting my boarding pass quickly scanned, I made my way to the showers immediately. It having been a hectic day up to this point between work, the accident, rushing to finish packing and get to the airport, and everything else that I just wanted to refresh. Thankfully, there wasn’t even a wait for a shower! I guess it busier when there are more international arrivals, as most people on departures don’t seem to take advantage. I personally find it great as it lets me feel refreshed before I step on that plane, especially a long flight.

Once all clean, I settled into the main area of the lounge to take care of some business. Well, not for work, but try to resolve booking my rental car for my road trip phase from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. I kept trying to make a reservation with Avis, but every time I would put in my company’s leisure AWD number, when I would get the confirmation email, it would have our full corporate rate listed. Not wanting to violate some sort of policy, written or unwritten, about using the full rate which includes insurance for personal travel, and after trying three times (and calling Avis twice), I just opted to make a reservation with Hertz.

Spotted A Virgin Atlantic Jet On My Walk To The Gate

That took up too much time and soon enough I figured I would stretch my legs and start walking to the gate. Today’s flight would be operated out of the end of Concourse F from Gate F2.

Gate F2 – ATL

Delta Air Lines #200
Atlanta, GA (ATL) to Johannesburg, ZA (JNB)
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Depart: 7:29PM Arrive: 4:50PM +1 Day
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200LR Seat: 32D (Economy/Comfort+)

Settling in early in the boarding process just meant that I would have the privilege of enjoying my Comfort+ seat for just over 16 hours. Part of me actually was envious of the folks who would be boarding in Zone 2 as they would have an opportunity to stretch their legs a bit longer before cramming into a seat. Now if this had been a segment in Business Class then, yeah I would have been all so enthusiastic about some extra time. But today? Nope. All I could do is just think about the destination.

Much Safety.

Now, it’s not that Delta Comfort+ is bad or anything for Economy Class travel. I’ve found that those few extra inches definitely make a difference. I can actually open up a laptop without too much issue and my knees have at least a little bit of breathing room. It’s definitely better than the alternative, but still nowhere near as good as sitting up front. As I sat in my seat trying to enjoy my last few moments with a cellular connection and a lifeline to the internet, I noticed a card in my seat back pocket: why, it’s a card extolling the virtues of satellite based inflight WiFi! Thoughts of being over the middle of the Atlantic and aimlessly flipping through Facebook or Twitter filled my mind. Alas, though it was not meant to be; once we reached cruising altitude, the flight attendants would inform us that this aircraft had not yet had the system installed yet. Bummer.

Lies, Lies I Tell You!

We were airborne on time with an estimated on-time arrival halfway around the globe in South Africa. About just under an hour into the flight, the flight attendants started going through the cabin to start the pre-dinner snack service. They didn’t seem to have any Biscoff to offer, so peanuts, pretzels and a beer got me started.

Pre-Dinner Snack

An hour later or so, it was time for dinner to be served. There was the usual “chicken or beef” option, and I had opted to go with the chicken. Served with rice as well as a salad, fruit, roll, and a cookie bar. Pretty standard coach food and wasn’t the worst thing that I’ve ever ate on a plane. I finished up and before the lights were dimmed the flight attendants came through passing out 20oz bottles of water to everyone. Granted my last long-haul international flight in Economy on Delta was in 2013, so this is definitely new and something that I expect in Business Class. It definitely seems that Delta keeps making pretty good changes to their product, and as much as I am finding myself less and less enthused with the SkyMiles program, the actually travel experience is actually pretty solid these days.

As the cabin darkened, I started to watch a few movies to try to pass the time. Eventually though I would try to get some sleep, and I was somewhat successful catching a few hours before deciding just to stay awake. If you know me, that’s a bit of a victory there.

Of course, as a result, I wound up looking like this:

Not Exactly The Most Awake Looking

Yeah, so anyways…

Eventually, a pre-arrival lunch would be served, and I have to admit this was probably one of the best meals that I have had in Economy Class. In fact, it pretty much seemed to be one of the regular domestic First Class meal options, just served in a plastic bowl. Yes, it’s a pretty simple salad, but definitely a step up from some of the other things that they’ve served in the past for the second meal service.

Surprisingly Good Meal In Economy Class

Before I knew it…no wait, I knew how long this flight took, there is no way to kid yourself that this flight felt short. Eventually, our flight made an on-time arrival in Johannesburg and it was time to finally get up, stretch my legs ans make my way to immigration.

International Arrivals At Johannesburg

The queue at immigration was not bad at all, even with confusion over who had to fill out health screening forms or not (Arrivals from the US didn’t need to), and I was making my way to grab my bag at baggage claim. Surprisingly, by the time I had reached it, my bag along with a few other Sky Priority-tagged bags were sitting off to the side waiting. They sure did move quick in unloading that aircraft!

First Stamp In My Brand New Passport!

Of course trying to figure out how best to manage my bag and my messenger became a bit of a struggle, but I managed, made it through customs and made my way to the Gautrain station after first stopping at a Vodacom store to get a local SIM card. I would be staying in the Sandton district tonight at the Hilton, but only for a little bit, as I had to be back at the airport in 12 hours to catch a flight to Port Elizabeth…

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