Welcome to the South Africa Trip Report for Coasting with Culture! Before getting into the actual trip itself, a little background in how this visit came to happen. A few years ago when I was still living in Florida and working for Disney World, I had just gotten back from my first international trip off of the North American continent by way of the 2014 Theme Park Review Scandinavia Tour. As I was fairly fresh from the excitement of going overseas for the first time, I wanted to find another opportunity to go somewhere far but knowing that I wasn’t making a whole lot of money at the time, I looked up cheapest destinations to visit internationally, and South Africa happened to be one that came up. As I’ll share a bit later into this report, this is true for many things, but back in 2014, I figured it would be a while because the cost of plane tickets at the time was around $1,200 from Orlando, and thus I knew I would need to wait. About a year later, I had moved to Seattle, and had an moment of curiosity to see what the price was, which appeared to be around $1,100. While my income had improved with my move, I was still trying to play catch-up from the move itself, and that was a bit much for what I could afford at the time.
Fast forward to around July of last year, I had brought one of my tour groups from my day job to their stop at the Space Needle, and was awaiting their return, and curiosity struck me as I had not looked at pricing to go to South Africa in about a year and a half. I used my phone to look and found that it would be possible to go around the time of year that I wanted to for just under $900. Seeing that much of a drop in the price, I knew it would be a great time to go, and a little bit after returning from Japan, I booked my flight to Johannesburg for my next big international journey! Of course, once you buy the ticket, the next part is to get there.
Since the time of my last trip, I had gained membership with Priority Pass thanks to one of my travel cards, and this would be my first opportunity to try it out. For those not familiar with it, Priority Pass is a membership that grants you access to airport lounges all over the world, some with are associated with specific airlines, some of which are not. All I can say is that after going to some of these lounges, the cost of the annual card fee for one that includes this membership is absolutely worth it, especially if you travel a lot. It was much more pleasant to spend time in the lounge than in the normal terminal seating as there are not as many people, and the seating is just generally more comfortable, plus many of them had individual plugs for charging your devices as you sat. Another great perk is the inclusion of some food or beverage. Even in the cases where all they had at the time was a selection of snack items, I greatly appreciated what was available over the usual fast food options in the main concourses, or the way overpriced healthier items.
So being that my journey began in Seattle, the lounge of choice for my first time trying it was the Alaska Airlines Lounge located between the C and D Concourses, as I have a soft spot for the airline as it is based in Seattle near my home (That and I do think of it as the unofficial airline of Coasting with Culture as it has been my main airline of choice when flying around the country). Now since it was fairly early in the morning, the items they had available where like that of a nice continental breakfast, such as breads, muffins, fruits and coffee (or sodas for non-coffee drinkers like me still looking for that early morning boost). I did find later that there was a pancake maker on the second floor as I was about to head to my gate, but unfortunately it was nearing time for me to head to the gate. I’ll just have to keep this in mind for future flights when heading out of Seattle.
While I consider myself to be fairly loyal to Alaska Airlines, unfortunately I would have to cheat on this trip as Alaska’s international destinations are limited to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands. For this flight, I would be going with Delta whom I have flown with many times over the years, including a couple flights connecting in and out of Atlanta, just as would be the case for this trip in both directions. This was the first time, however, that the flight to Atlanta from Seattle was the “short” flight. Fortunately, it was a pleasant flight to get to Atlanta as I was able to snooze almost half of it.
And it was actually quite fitting to fly into Atlanta with Delta Airlines, because based on a suggestion from my friend RD, I decided to go and visit the Delta Flight Museum, located just outside of Atlanta Hartsfeld-Jackson Airport. I also had the pleasure of being joined by two of my Atlanta based friends, Ericka and Randy.
As you enter the main building of the museum, you go into an exhibit dedicated to the origins of Delta Airlines, where you learn how it started as a crop-dusting plane business located in Louisiana. In this hall, you find a few of the planes from the earlier days of aviation for Delta. There are also display cases filled with artifacts including old flight attendant uniforms, old airline chairs, and supplies used on the planes.
Through a hallway you find yourself in the next exhibit that focuses on the more modern times of Delta. The highlight of this section is the inclusion of the Spirit of Delta plane. This was one of the first Boeing 767’s built and used for passenger service. The plane was purchased in a combined effort by the employees and given to the company to help keep it afloat as it had gone into financial difficulties. Inside of the plane, there are a variety of artifacts inside that were focused more on international service by the airline, including special uniforms flight attendants would wear that were based on the destination.
There was also a small display that showed all of the models of airplanes that are a part of the Delta fleet, and there was a special display dedicated to Patricia Grace Murphy, the woman who became Delta’s first African American flight attendant. We found out that she still is involved with Delta as she occasionally gives tours at the Delta Flight Museum.
One of the other highlights of this museum is the ability to step aboard and explore one of Delta’s old Boeing 747’s. When stepping onto this aircraft, there are displays that showcase the history and design of the plane.
On this particular aircraft, you can also walk up to the second level of the plane, getting the opportunity to see and experience Delta One seating, used in the business class cabin for international routes. You also can step part way into the cockpit of the plane.
Of course, as they allow you to try it out, this would make me just a little bit sad as my flight to Johannesburg would be in economy, so this was about as close as I was going to get for this journey to a Delta One seat, but it makes me look forward to the day that I’ll have enough points to get one of these seats for an actual flight.
The plane also provides a platform for visitors to step outside and see the plane from a higher perspective, while also giving you a vantage point for some of their other aircraft on display.
And of course, like all good museums, the Delta Flight Museum would offer a gift shop with a variety of items to choose from.
The museum is a really neat way to learn about the history of Delta Airlines, and a great way to spend a part of your layover thanks to its close location to the airport. It was certainly worth a visit, whether you are doing a longer connection through Atlanta or visiting the city itself. Thank you to Randy and Ericka for coming to hangout with me at the museum! I enjoyed the company and look forward to seeing you two again in the future!
As our time at the Delta Flight Museum would come to an end, Randy would take me back to the terminal to prepare for the coming flight to Johannesburg.
See more of 2018 South Africa Trip:
1: Flight to Atlanta & Delta Flight Museum / 2: Arrival to South Africa / 3: First Day in Durban /
4: Second Day in Durban / 5: Last Day in Durban / 6: V&A Waterfront / 7: Cape Town City Sightseeing Tours /
8: Table Mountain / 9: Ratanga Junction / 10: Rugby at Newlands Rugby Stadium / 11: Cape Town Walking Tours /
12: Cape of Good Hope / 13: Boulders Beach Penguins / 14: The Last of Cape Town / 15: Cape Town Water Shortage /
16: Sightseeing Around Johannesburg / 17: More Johannesburg Sightseeing / 18: Botswana Day Trip /
19: Kruger National Park, Day 1 / 20: Kruger National Park, Day 2 / 21: Kruger National Park, Day 3 /
22: Gold Reef City Resort & Amenities / 23: Apartheid Museum & Rand Show / 24: Gold Reef City Theme Park /
25: The Return Home