A Technical Stop: South African Airways, Washington – Johannesburg; Technical Stopover in Dakar, Senegal.


South African Airways has conducted “1 stop” service to and from South Africa and the United States for several years. While they do serve a non stop route with their Airbus 340-600 aircraft from Johannesburg to New York, they’ve also typically had a one stop service from Johannesburg to Washington Dulles. At the time of this trip, the stopover was in Dakar Senegal, but has also now surfaced on the Washington. United States – Accra, Ghana route.

This is our experience with the stopover heading eastward from Washington Dulles to Johannesburg, South Africa after our South African Airways Business Class flight from Washington Dulles to Dakar.

This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, a Safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Mauritius. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.

Read More from This Trip

A Technical Stop: South African Airways Washington Dulles – Johannesburg; Technical Stopover in Dakar, Senegal

“While technical stopovers aren’t always fun, they can be if they are in a remote destination. A stopover in Dakar, Senegal is something you don’t get to experience every day”

This particular service from Washington Dulles to Johannesburg stopped in Dakar, Senegal for fuel and to take on /drop off passengers. The service continued on to Johannesburg under the same SA 208 flight number. There has been lots of discussion about the technical stop and how it’s interruptive of the flight and any attempts to try to get some rest. I personally loved it, but only because Dakar was a place that I hadn’t been to before. I doubt that I’d be interested in doing it all over again if I was regularly traveling this route and I’d probably opt for the non stop sister South African Airways flight from John Fitzgerald Kennedy Airport in New York non stop to Johannesburg if I had the choice. You may feel the same way after you see the photographs here as well.

We landed in the pitch black of the Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport of Dakar, parking at a non gate position. It was a scheduled arrival of 6:25 AM when we arrived. Stairs were brought up and we deplaned some passengers. 

Bus Transfer for Arriving Dakar Passengers

An army of ground crew came on to clean and groom plane – removing trash and servicing the plane. Lights were on in the cabin as we waited. We were up and able to move around on the aircraft but not off the plane. Given the timings, it was totally dark on arrival but got lighter as the time went on. I asked to step on to the jet bridge stairs to take a look around and they were even super reluctant to allow that. I snuck off a few photos. Of interest is that when they refueled the plane, the crew asked everyone to stay seated in their seats while the process was underway. Being seated in the front, we were also able to see new flight attendant crews being loaded, along with 3 new pilots. The old crew got off and retired for the evening.

Loading New Catering

There were some great over wing views of our Airbus 340-300.

View from the Wing: Airbus 340-300

As the hour technical stop passed away, the sun started to rise on a new day in West Africa.

Sunrise from the DAK airfield

After a quick hour, it was time to leave Dakar. The door was closed and we taxied toward the runway. It was sunrise by this point, and we were able to see around the airport a little bit. 

Views of Senegal Airways

We were able to see the African Renaissance Monument overlooking the airport, which was neat to see.

Views of the African Renaissance Monument from the Dakar Airfield
Mosques and Minarets

Léopold Sédar Senghor Airport has only one runway and no adjacent taxi ways. We held at the hold line to allow an Emirates and a Turkish airline flight to land. I loved this photograph below as it showed how roughly landscaped the terrain was and that you didn’t need manicured and trimmed lawns and sprinkler systems on the sides of runways in order to land planes.

Airfield Landscaping
Emirates B777 landing at Dakar

Departing Dakar: a Gorgeous Coastline!

When it came time to leave, we taxied down the runway with a U-turn at the end. I was able to get some fabulous photographs on the way out as the sun broke through the sky. It was one of those times when the aerial photographs looked absolutely beautiful. 

Morning Light on our Climb to Altitude
Views over Dakar, Senegal
Fishing Boats Headed Out for the Day
Morning Climb to Altitude
Dakar Senegal Coastline
The Roof Tops of Dakar

My thoughts on our Technical Stop in Dakar:

Wow – What a really memorable stopover, especially considering we never got off the plane.

The technical stopover was a pretty cool way to see a part of the world that will likely take me a lifetime to get to. Even though we never left the airport, I found seeing the African Renaissance Monument and the coastline of Senegal exceptionally cool. Of course, I was travelling for leisure purposes at the time. If you’re a regular commuter on the USA to South Africa Route, this is likely more of an inconvenience than an enjoyment for you. In my view, the interruption of the night’s sleep was worth it for the limited sights in a world very far far away from my every day life. For me, that’s what travel is all about.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: