Welcome to the next segment in this itinerary that took me to South Africa for the first time. As I mentioned in the first report of this series, I am a frequent flyer, but had never crossed the Equator before. This trip is, therfore, particularly exciting for me.
We arrived from DC a bit early, but with still only a little over 2 hours before boarding of our next flight, I wanted to get to the KLM Crown Lounge immediately to take a shower before getting on a 12 hour flight. As much of an AvGeek as I am, knowing that Schipol has an awesome viewing deck, planespotting was not my priority.
Already tired from the Transatlantic flight, upon arriving at the lounge I had to stand in line for almost 20 minutes just to sign up for the showers! I was not too pleased about that–they definitely need a better system as there were folks in that same line who needed rebooking and other services. Once I finally got to speak to an agent to sign up for the showers, I immediately inquired about availability for cash upgrades on the flight to JNB. Luckily there are seats available and at 240 Euros a person, it's an amazing deal for a 12hr flight! All three of us buy the upgrades without hesitating. Normally, I would have preferred a window seat, but since there were 3 of us travelling, we decided to take the 3 seats together in the middle section. Ah, the sacrifices we make for our friends :-)
After standing in line and going through the upgrade process, there wasn't much time left for anything much but a shower and a quick sip of champagne. Yes it's only 9AM, but with the time difference it's 3AM for me so it's totally ok LOL
The lounge was super crowded, but it's still very pleasant and you can usually find a spot without too much trouble.
Slightly disappointed that I didn't have time to go on the viewing terrace, once I saw it was snowing outside I didn't feel so bad
You can barely make it out, but it is snowing in this picture
Our aircraft: PH-BQK baptised Mount Kilimanjaro…seems appropriate for an African destination So it turned out the 772ER I could see from the lounge was our plane.
The B777-200ER fleet is still equiped with the old seats–they're definitely outdated, but it's still way more comfortable than being in Y/Y+
Excellent seat pitch
The seats I would have preferred had I been by myself or if there were only two of us. They stayed empy for a very long time during boarding so I was thinking I'd be able to squat that row and spread out, but last minute two DL non-revs were put there.
Pre-departure drink: Champagne Billecart-Salmon…better than the sparkling offered in the lounge (which was still decent).
The Viktor & Rolf amenity kit. It looks nice, but there's not much inside.
Rituals products in the lav to stay fresh on the long flight.
The menu and wine list are handed out by our very friendly FA's at the end of boarding. KLM generally has friendly crews in my experience.
Welcome on-board your flight to Johannesburg …personalized touch. Nice.
Three choices for main entrées
The wine list
We push back on time and announcements are made in English and Dutch. I imagine that these two languages are sufficient for the South Africans on board as Afrikaans speakers most likely understand Dutch, and English of course. If crews had to make announcements in the 11 official languages of South Africa, it would never end, LOL
Despite the snow, we did not de-ice. Taxi time was short and we were off to JNB!
Pre-diner drinks are served right after the seat-belt sign came off.
Burning hot towel.
Warm nuts are served with drinks. More Champagne for me.
Flying over Paris. The moving map isn't the latest generation, but it does the trick–I like knowing where I am.
Aside from the old appearance of the airshow, the rest of the IFE programming is essentially the same as on the A330 we were just on.
There's a pretty large library of music
Dinner is served over my birthplace, Rodez, France..
The salmon was quite good, with a generous portion.
The main dish comes as we fly over the Baleares.
I chose the lamb. The presentation of the dish is definitely not very pretty, but I enjoyed the dish.
Cheese course over Algeria.
I had no more room for dessert so I just had an Amarula digestif.
After the meal, I get up to stretch a bit and look out the window. I head for door 1R and discover the Sahara below us.
The seat in sleep position. The angle is very pronounced and it's difficult to keep from sliding down. I figured out a way by putting my feet on the plastic/seat pocket area of the seat in front to stay in place.
Water bottle are distributed after the meal.
I was so tired that I was able to get a good 4 hours of solid sleep despite a few episodes of sliding down the seat. When I wake up, we are over central Africa–good, I didn't want to miss crossing the Equator for the first time! I'm a nerd like that.
The mid-flight snack was a choice of either sushi or a Kroket. I chose the Kroket, which is like a Dutch empenada or hot pocket. It was pretty good, but not very business class-y
My first Equator crossing!
After crossing the equator, I take another little nap. I asked our FA to wake me for the next meal and asked for another water bottle.
After a good nap, the FA wakes me gently for the meal, just as I'd asked.
The choices for this meal are Vegetarian lasagne or a chicken dish. I chose the lasagna. I'm normally not a fan of vegetarian dishes, but this was rather tasty. I paired it with a very decent Rioja.
At the beginning of our descent, FAs hand out the famous Blue Delft houses. This is one of the coolest things about KLM business class–a great souvenir.
We got to the gate about 5 minutes early.
Our plane at JNB
We were among the first people out of the plane and breezed through immigrations. After a little stop at the arrival duty-free, our bags were already out. Good to see the priority tags work at JNB–that isn't the case everywhere. We then head to Europcar to pick up our rental car–shouldn't it be called Africar in Africa? :-)
I'll leave you with some tourism images of the hotel and Pretoria, where we stayed. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa and is about 40km north of Johannesburg.
Holiday Inn Pretoria
The Central Business District during a quick storm.
Downtown by night seen from the room.
The pool seen from the room.
The pool with a view of the CBD/downtown
The Union Buildings, seat of the government, seen from the hotel.
Our hotel and the Voortrekker monument from the Union Buildings.
The Union Buildings
There is a really pretty park around the Union Buildings.
A very African scene in the streets of Pretoria.
I thought this was funny…saw this in the restrooms of the Voortrekker Monument. Is this sign really necessary? LOL
The Voortrekker monument is a monument dedicated to the Boer settlers.
Bonteboks on the grounds of the Vootrekker Monument
Freedom Park. A monument/park in Pretoria which honors all those who lost their lives fighting Apartheid. Its main attraction, The Wall of Names contains over 80,000 names of victims of that terrible regime.
Freedom Park also offers gorgeous views of Pretoria.
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KLM Crown Lounge 5 - Non Schengen
Amsterdam - AMS
Johannesburg - JNB
On-time flight despite the snow.
We all know these seats should have been changed out years ago, but after an overnight Transatlantic flight, they were very appealing. I managed to get some good rest despite sliding down the seat a few times.
Crew was great. Very friendly, professional, and attentive. KLM crews are often very friendly.
Catering was decent, but lacked class and presentation was downright bad. The mid-flight snack was something you'd expect in economy. The essential thing is that everything was good.
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