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South African Airways Business Class: Review & Video

It’s not particularly easy (or quick) to get from Los Angeles to Johannesburg, South Africa. It took me more than 24 hours of transit time. But flying South African Airways Business Class certainly made the journey more pleasant.

On Wednesday, March 28th 2012, I took an early morning flight on United from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Washington Dulles (IAD) so I could catch a flight on South African Airways. After a couple of hours. I boarded flight SA 208 from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB) with a stop in Dakar (DKR). The plane was an A340-300.

The flight time BRUTAL- over 16 hours. I sat in business class, seat 15 A. They served Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial. The seat next to me was unoccupied which made the long journey more comfortable.

Departing gate B27 at Dulles

Departing gate B27 at Dulles

The flight attendants were particularly charming and pleasant. The food served was plentiful and better than average, my Kokan style chicken breast with confetti rice, sugar snap peas, and coconut lemongrass cream sauce was tasty but not exceptional. The entertainment system had a few glitches and was re-booted often enough that I didn’t bother using it and just stuck my own in flight entertainment provided on my iPad. The plane was well kept and my seat worked well and was comfortable. The empty seat next to had a broken reading lamp.

The duvets were comfortable and the right density and I slept for several hours on both legs. The stop in Dakar, Senegal (where crews changed and more passengers boarded) was a bummer because I woke up for landing, only to realize the DKR-JNB leg was just as long as the previous one. The upside: I get to count Senegal as the 75th country I’ve visited. While I didn’t technically get off the plane and set my feet on the tarmac, the plane was sprayed with some sort of compressed gas. Any time I have to inhale foreign chemicals that make me cough and my eyes itch, I consider the airport stopover intimate enough to count as visit to that country.

My biggest problem with the South African Airways Business class experience was the amenity kit. While the socks with zebra treads were cute and useful, the kit was devoid of tissue of any kind. Neither Kleenex or an off-brand. In my humble opinion the tissue packet is, next to the eye shades, the one amenity I’m sure to use on a long haul flight. It was sorely missed.

The crew was very nice and the flight was uneventful other than exceptionally long. There were several passengers on board headed to the Cape Town Jazz Festival and I was grateful I got to deplane and stay in Jo’Burg.

African Clouds 1Descending to Joburg from the window, FujiX100Descending to Joburg, FujiX100

Descending to Jo’burg, FujiX100

Seats 2Seats 3SeatsBroken Reading Lamp on South African AirwaysStuart

The Business Class Cabin of the plane

8 hrs after take off, we landed in Dakar, Senegal to refuel, change crews, and let passengers on and off

8 hrs after take off, we landed in Dakar, Senegal to refuel, change crews, and let passengers on and off

SAA PREMIUM CLASS MenuSAA Star Alliance menuSouth African Airways Port menuSouth African Airways saskia

SAA PREMIUM CLASS Menu, South African Airways Port and South African Airways saskia

When you see a sign for where to check your firearms, you know you've arrived in Johannesburg

When you see a sign for where to check your firearms, you know you’ve arrived in Johannesburg!