Thanks to no layover, the direct flight saves about four hours in travel time.

By Alison Fox
December 17, 2019
NurPhoto via Getty Images

A United Airlines plane touched down in Cape Town on Monday becoming the only airline to offer nonstop service from the U.S. to the South African city.

The new flight from Newark Liberty International Airport — that covers more than 7,800 miles — will take 14 hours and 30 minutes on the way there and 15 hours and 55 minutes on the return. The route, on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, represents the sixth longest flight for United.

The flight saves people about four hours each way compared to a connection, according to the airline. Before now, passengers flying to the popular tourist destination of Cape Town had to connect through another airport, often in Europe or Johannesburg.

“Our new flight will not only improve the current journey time between the two cities by more than four hours, it also strengthens our international route network and provides customers in South Africa with over 80 nonstop connections from New York/Newark to other destinations across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean,” Bob Schumacher, United’s regional director of sales, said in a statement.

And tourism in the city is growing: last year, the city reported 5.3 million passengers arrived through Cape Town’s airport, a 3 percent increase from 2017, according to Forbes. Currently, most visitors seem to be coming from Germany and the U.K.

The flight will operate three times per week and will feature 116 economy seats, 88 economy plus seats, and 48 business class seats.

“Cape Town is a world-class city and this direct flight positions us as an attractive entry point into the rest of the continent,” Cape Town’s Executive Mayor Dan Plato said in a statement. “The local tourism and business sectors will greatly benefit from this as it allows us to showcase the diverse services and experiences that the city offers visitors from the United States.”

Visitors to Cape Town will be wowed by the city’s beautiful beaches and the view of its iconic Table Mountain.

While there, take a ferry to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela spent the majority of his decades-long sentence, or drive down to Boulders Beach where you can watch African penguins hang out on the sand (and a few curious ones that come up on the beach meant for humans). End your trip with a relaxing afternoon tea at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel where the truly expansive spread offers something for everyone — don’t forget to try the city’s famous milk tart!

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