Behind the Scenes – Part III Getting There

It is a long way from Seattle to Cape Town. Fellow Safari adventurer and Delta Captain Anne Simpson shares her experience….

As an airline pilot it pains me greatly to pay for a ticket when traveling.  So my husband Charlie and I decided, as we always do, to take the “pass rider’s challenge.” In short, this entails flying standby, or as I like to call it, “Last Class.”

Tuesday morning May 7th 4:45 am, we are packed, ready to go, and standing at the door waiting for our good friend, Greg. No Greg.  We call. We text. No reply. I check my message and oh —–! I have confirmed pick up at 5:45.  Call a cab, walk to the end of the street, and miraculously he shows up and gets us to SeaTac only a few minutes later then planned!

Not too much hand wringing at the gate. There are a comfortable number of seats available for a cheap pilot and her husband.   We enjoy an uneventful ride to ATL.  Leg two is 5 hours away so my boss invited us to come for a visit at Delta World Headquarters.  There had even been talk of giving Charlie a little simulator time (the same offer was made to me but that’s too much like work and I am on vacation).  Turns out I confirmed that offer for Monday not Tuesday.  Good thing I am on vacation as I seem to be having time/date issues.

After catching up with O.C., it’s back to the airport and this time there is some hand wringing.   Up until then, there had been 8 business class seats open and we were one and two on the list.  By the time we got to the gate there were still seats in coach but none in business :-( .  Oh well.  Just as we were boarding, I was called to the podium – one biz seat open.  What would you do?  I love Charlie, he is the greatest, most generous person, but they are my benefits, right?  I felt guilty for next 14 hours while I dined well, and slept for 8 hours in my cozy lie flat bed.  If there’s only one going home he gets it – I sure hope there are two!

We arrive in Johannesburg with enough time to make an earlier connection on South African Airways.  But because we are still flying “last class” they won’t load our bags (which we were required to check on this lag) until we are assigned seats and guess what? Our bags don’t make it.  This was actually no big deal.  After about 30 hours of successful pass riding half way around the world an hour wait on our bags was nothing.  It gave us a chance to scope out the Cape Town airport for a little more “risky business” on June 1st when we try to non rev home!

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