South African Airways A340 Business Class In 10 Pictures

Hello from South Africa! It’s not often that travel actually exhausts me, but after doing two back-to-back redeyes and traveling for almost 48 hours, I’m just about ready to hibernate.

Last night I flew from Frankfurt to Johannesburg on a South African Airways A340-600 (I was supposed to fly out of London, but that flight got canceled). Even though I’ve heard mostly negative things about SAA, I was still excited to finally fly with them.

SAA’s longhaul fleet has fully flat beds in a 2-2-2 configuration, so the seats are quite narrow, though at least they’re flat. As you’ll see below, it’s not exactly the most stylish or modern product out there.

The soft product is what intrigued me most. The service was… how shall I say… well intentioned. The crew meant well, but there was no flow to their service, and due to them not serving in a consistent manner, I couldn’t really tell whether they were constantly forgetting about me, or if they were just really slow.

The food I actually did have was good, though the meal service isn’t especially extensive (you get a soup or a salad or an appetizer), and they were out of my first choice for the main course.

I’ll of course have a full trip report upon my return to the US, so stay tuned for that, as I’m already drafting it now.

I guess to sum up my overall feelings, the airline has a lot of potential, though has an outdated hard product and a disorganized soft product. You guys have asked for more business class reviews on average carriers, so I guess the conclusion of having “potential” is a common theme among many of them.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you guys with the below 10 pictures of my South African Airways business class experience:

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Comments

  1. Amex MR -> AC redemptions on SAA are a great use of points IMO. Sure, SAA doesn’t have the most cutting edge biz product, but man, 2 flat beds for my wife and I on a direct JFK -> JNB flight using miles alone without fuel fees, was a beautiful thing. South Africa is far away and the direct routing bypassing Europe was much appreciated.

  2. Lucky, it may only be May, but I am already looking forward to a year-end countdown of the top First and Biz experiences out there now that you are so assertively diversifying! Your readers will no doubt appreciate your perspective placing this year’s experiences among the tried and true.

  3. The food does look good. If nothing else, the presentation of it looks much nicer that what you were served recently on the Central and South American airlines.

  4. Sounds like typical SAA service. The seat is pretty solid and quite wide and spacious vs say United business class. The food and wine have deteriorated in the last few years, but the seat makes it worth it.

  5. So they served you two first courses (soup and penne) instead of a first and a second course???

  6. Be sure to give the four-engine sexy some credit in your full review, for the level of quietness and SAA for still operating it ! Emotionally attached and hence consistently biased towards F/J products on A340, a bit.

  7. I love wandering around international airports. I have a childlike joy in staring at departure boards, watching people boarding planes to destinations like Bishkek, and gawking at the airlines’ liveries on heavies like the a340.

    So I am visibly soured when I see a beautiful plane decked out in the dreary livery of one the alliances. Looking at Ben’s photo of his a340, degraded to being a boring Star Alliance billboard, made me nostalgic for SAA’s splendid springbok logo emblazoned across the tail of a 747SP.

  8. Sad to see that SAA’s hard product is virtually identical to what it was when I flew them back when there were codesharing with DL.

    It was almost world class then. It’s not now.

  9. Looks like the same/similar seats that Virgin Australia have/are replacing on their 777-300’s.

  10. I flew in the same type of aircraft in biz between GRU and JNB in March this year! The cabin and seats were outdated but the food was surprisingly good and more surprisingly is that when those seats turn into beds, they are more comfy than lie-flatted beds on United Bizfirst!

  11. An iconic flight: Springbok service from London to Joburg. Yes the service can be spotty. It’s Africa!! But the food is consistently good and it’s the perfect flight length to enjoy dinner, a couple of drinks/minute and still get a decent sleep before landing. The sound of the captain wishing you good morning flying low over the Namib or the Khalahari has to be experienced. Lucky: a day room in London or Frankfurt is wekl worth the investment to arrive fresh and ready to go in SA I try to arrive in the UK before 9 am and leave on the 21:00 SAA flight.

  12. Thanks for the PTSD. That’s what SAA and your trip report gave me. Still love the blog! But just leave SAA off, please. 🙂

    Funny timing: I wrote to my travel agent in CPT yesterday about an upcoming trip I need in biz JNB-CPT, and I actually reminded her to STOP comparing SAA prices (lower) to BA prices (higher) because I will never fly SAA again. I’ll just pay higher to avoid SAA.

    SAA = Seriously Awfully Awful. Someone please carry that torch forward.

  13. Welcome to South Africa from a local follower of your writing. You are brave to fly on the National Carrier as most opt for the gulf carriers as they offer better on board service at competitive prices. Please consider visiting Durban in the near future as this little city has been buzzing with airline activity. The following international carriers have commenced service from our city : Emirates ; Turkish airlines ; Qatar and Ethipoian airlines. Thank you for your work

  14. SA flightattendents only have 1 night rest in FRA if operating the route JNB-FRA vv. Thats why sometimes they need a bit of positive encouragement to pep them up. A340 are becoming less common so it’s fun to sit in one again. The aminety kit is a different edition(used to be beige halfmoonshap purse) but still with Temple Spa.

    @ Lucky, did you try the Amarula liquer on board? The taste of Africa in a cute bottle.

    SA’s JNB Cyad first lounge is very pleasent but Baoab business lounge is also on par with excellent shower rooms

  15. Is your JNB-LHR on an A330-200, A340-300 or A340-600, because I will fly the A340-300 IAD-ACC-JNB and have mixed info about whether the A340-300 seat is fully flat of angle. I look forward to your review, because I have no real idea what their business class is like.

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