South African Airways (SAA) flies direct Perth to Johannesburg and beyond, servicing 36 destinations across 27 countries, making the national airline a great choice for travel to Africa.
Virgin Australia is a codeshare partner with South African Airways, enabling travellers to fly on the VA codeshare flight to Johannesburg. The partnership offers Velocity Frequent Flyer members the ability to earn and redeem Velocity Points and gain Status Credits on eligible flights along with other service benefits including the use of South African Airways lounge at Johannesburg for Velocity Platinum and Gold Members.
Kate Webster recently flew to South Africa with South African Airways. Here is the verdict.
Flight: Perth (PER) – Johannesburg (JNB) QF63
When: 30 August 2018
Flight Number: SA281
Aircraft: Airbus A343
Flight time: 10 hours 45 minutes
CHECK IN: If you are flying in domestically to Perth to connect with this flight, make sure you fly Virgin as the terminal is in the same building. If you fly in domestically on Qantas, you will have to get the airport shuttle, which can be time consuming. Either way, you will have to check in internationally in Perth Airport, so allow plenty of time in domestic transfers for this (at least 2 hours)
BAGGAGE: Economy Class passengers are allowed 1 piece of 8kg hand luggage. Checked baggage may not be included depending on the fare type. Fares that do include checked baggage allow for 23kg to 60kg depending on the destination. Please refer to the airline for more information. Business Class passengers are allowed 2 pieces of 8kg (each) hand luggage and 30kg to 90kg checked baggage depending on the destination. Please refer to the airline for more information.
LOUNGES: South African Airways has 2 lounges located at O.R. Tambo International Airport. The Cycad First Class Lounge includes sleep rooms, showers, a cigar lounge, an audio-visual entertainment room, internet access, business facilities, an à la carte menu and a full-service bar. The Business Class Lounge features dedicated children areas, showers, an audio-visual entertainment room, a staffed bar and a self-service food area. Business Class passengers, First Class passengers flying with affiliated airlines and various SAA Voyager membership tiers have select access to lounges.
THE SEAT: With a roomy 33.5 inches of legroom, this nearly 11-hour flight was rather comfortable (in comparison to most Qantas planes that offer 31 inches). Although it was an older plane that probably could use a refurbishment, the seats were quite comfortable. The seat number is in fact one of the best in economy class – towards the back of the plane – it has an empty space in front as the seat has been removed for wheelchair access.
FOOD AND WINE: With the flight departing late at night, a dinner service with drinks were served up as soon as the flight was in the air. There was a choice of chicken and vegetables or pasta. I opted for the chicken and vegetables and was satisfied with the choice. Before arrival into Johannesburg, a hot breakfast (or continental breakfast option) was served. If you have any food allergies or special dietary requirements, such as gluten-free, vegan or nut-free, SAA can serve a suitable meal for you. You do need to order and confirm your requirement no less than 48 hours before departure time. Kosher meals should be ordered and confirmed no less than 72 hours before departure.
ENTERTAINMENT: On-demand entertainment was offered with a wide variety of entertainment available throughout the flight. I really do like the on demand so you decide what to enjoy, when you want to enjoy it. There was plenty to choose from, with new release movies, documentaries, TV shows and more. I chose not to use the airline’s headphones and plugged in my own noise-cancelling headset. For those who like to read, the inflight magazine is packed full of engaging reads, destination information and more.
FREQUENT FLYER: The SAA Voyager rewards program allows members to earn points when they fly with South African Airways, their affiliated airlines or shop with their partners including hotels, car hire companies, credit card programs and other retail companies. Accumulated points can be used towards flights, upgrades, accommodation, car hire and other benefits with South African Airways and their partners.
THE VERDICT: It would be great if SAA did a refresh on the planes as they are a little dated but the seat choice was a winner. The flight was not full, so even with the legroom to spread out, I managed to have 2 spare seats next to me also. The staff were friendly and even chatted to me about Australia and what I planned to do in Africa. Make sure you join up to Voyager SAA Frequent Flyer Program to gain points.