I had neglected to assign seats in advance on this flight (did not even think it was possible) and my wife and I ended up in middle seats. The A343 economy class cabin has a 2-4-2 configuration and the flight was very full.
South African has a low-cost subsidiary called Mango and there is a competing LCC called Kulula. Oddly enough, this flight on South African was the cheapest option – purchased just a couple days in advance for $163.
We were bussed to the plane…and that just makes no sense to me when there were so many young families and elderly passengers traveling. We took a bus to plane then had to climb almost 30 steps to get up to the aircraft. I carried my wife’s bags up and felt so bad watching others struggling to carry their hand baggage on to the plane. Surely there must be a better way.
South African Airways is struggling under the burden of high legacy costs and an inefficient fleet of gas-guzzling four-engine Airbus widebodies, but still is very much a full service carrier.
South African Airways 317
Johannesburg (JNB) – Cape Town (CPT)
Friday, October 25, 2014
Depart: 09:10 AM
Arrive: 11:20 AM
Duration: 2hr, 10min
Aircraft: Airbus A340-300
Seat: 52F (Economy Class)
Baggage is included and a light meal is served onboard – in this case, “Rectangle Danish, turkey slice, cucumber slices, mayo spread, lettuce liner, and bran muffin” or “rectangle Danish, cheddar cheese slice, tomato slices, lettuce liner, cucumber slice, and bran muffin.” My wife slept through the flight and I had breakfast in the Hyatt Regency Club and again in the South African Voyager Lounge, so I accepted the snack just to include the photos below.
Full bottles of water are offered along with a nice assortment of juices, coffee, and tea.
The A343 does have seatback IFE, but it was never turned on – instead we were treated to a loop of the following SA “propaganda” pictures (see what a happy family we are!).
But the flight was a quick two hours and even in a middle seat…it went by fast. Sure, the lie-flat seat in business class would have been nice, but at four times the cost of a coach ticket, it simply was not worthwhile.
In CapeTown, our luggage was among the last on the conveyor belt despite Star Alliance Priority tags on them. Oh well.
Most interesting to me was that this flight cost less than two low-cost competitors flying the same route around the same time. As we now see with “low cost” Southwest and JetBlue in the USA, often low-cost carriers do not have the best price. Always shop around.
Read More of My Month in Africa Trip Report
Introduction: A Month in Africa
Review: Houston to Lagos in United Airlines 787 Business
Transit in Lagos: Bribing My Way Out
Review: Oasis Lounge Lagos (LOS)
Review: Gabfol Lounge Lagos (LOS)
Lagos to Johannesburg in South African Airways Economy Class
Setting Up Shop in Pretoria
How to Obtain a South African Police Report
A Safari in Kruger National Park
Review: Nkambeni Safari Camp
Driving Through Swaziland
Review: Mountain Inn Mbabane, Swaziland
Review: Johannesburg to Livingstone, Zambia in British Airways Comair Economy Class
Our Humble Abode in Zambia
Victoria Falls from the Zambian Side
From Hate to Great: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
The Old House Guest Lodge – Kasane, Botswana
A Visit to Impalila Island, Namibia
Kasane, Botswana to Johannesburg on South African Airways (Airlink)
Review: Hyatt Regency Johannesburg (Suite)
Road Trip from Johannesburg to Lesotho
Review: South African Airways Domestic Voyager Lounge – JNB