Introduction: Star Alliance To South Africa
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Review: South African Airways Business Class A340 Frankfurt To Johannesburg
Review: South African Airways Domestic Lounge Johannesburg Airport
Review: South African Airways Business Class A319 Johannesburg To Cape Town
Review: Westin Cape Town
Review: South African Airways Lounge Cape Town Airport
Review: South African Airways Business Class A340 Cape Town To Johannesburg
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Review: Air Canada Domestic Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Airport
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I was booked on the 3:50PM flight to Johannesburg, though showed up way early, at around 12:50PM. I had some work to catch up on prior to my long journey home, so always like leaving a bit of extra time before my flight.
Cape Town Airport’s check-in hall is quite large, and it took me a minute to find South African Airways’ premium check-in.
As it turned out, business class check-in was located at the far left of the terminal, across from their economy check-in area.
The agent who helped me was friendly, and after I explained I was on the 3:50PM flight, she said “great, do you want to take the 2:10PM flight instead? Your flight is oversold.”
“Hmmm, what kind of a plane is the 2:10PM flight operated by?”
“Big big plane.”
Given the opportunity I figured I might as well switch flights. That would give me a better seat to Johannesburg, and also more time on the ground there, as my previous connection was on the short side, and I didn’t want to miss my flight.
I proceeded towards the security checkpoint. While there was no premium queue, it didn’t take all that long to clear — I was through in about 10 minutes.
Just past the security checkpoint I admired the incredible tarmac views, as there was an A340-600 parked right there, with a British Airways 747 in the background.
I turned right and followed the signage towards lounges.
Cape Town Airport is very serviceable, though not especially modern.
Just before the food court area and to the right I found the elevators for airline lounges, which I took up to the fourth floor.
Down the hallway was the entrance to the South African Airways Lounge.
The lounge had a long entryway, which led to a very nice seating area in front of the reception desk.
After my boarding pass was scanned I was admitted to the lounge, and informed there wouldn’t be a boarding call for my flight.
The lounge was quite beautiful, with plenty of seating, high ceilings, and lots of natural light.
The lounge had a unique shape which meant it had several different zones with lots of privacy.
The lounge was probably actually in a rectangular shape, but due to the unique zones they have, it didn’t feel like it.
There was a cool entertainment zone, which sort of felt like the inside of a ship, or something.
There was also a similarly designed smoking lounge.
Towards the back of the lounge was some high-top seating.
There was also a business center with a long desk, along with several printers and PCs.
Just past that was more seating, which featured great tarmac views.
I love the variety of traffic at Cape Town Airport, between the South African Airways heavies, the Comair 737s in British Airways livery, and the cool Mango 737s.
At the far end of the lounge was a station with a broken coffee machine, as well as some soup.
There were also muffins along with packaged sweets and tea.
Then back near the entrance was the main buffet.
It featured crackers, several types of salad, veggies, sandwiches, warm croissants, waffles, chicken, etc.
Back by the windows was the bar area, where alcoholic drinks and made to order espresso beverages were available.
I love that South African Airways lounges seem to consistently offer made to order espresso drinks.
Overall I was pleased by the lounge in terms of the design, food spread, etc. There was only one major issue — the wifi was virtually unusable. To me functioning wifi is the most basic amenity a lounge can have, as it’s a necessity before getting on a flight. The wifi was so slow that it literally took several minutes for me to open a single webpage. This is completely unacceptable, and a huge fail on SAA’s part.
I brought this to the attention of the staff, and they said “sorry, it’s running slow today.” “Running slow” is one thing, but it taking literally several minutes for a webpage to load is another thing.
I left the lounge at 1:20PM for my 2:10PM flight to Johannesburg. My flight was departing from gate C9, which was just a short walk away. As it turns out, gate C9 was really a remote gate which they bussed passengers from, which is true of gates C1-12.
At around 1:30PM everyone lined up at the gate, without there actually being a boarding call.
Finally at 1:40PM boarding commenced, though it was a free for all. There was a guy at the gate with a bag sizer and scale, who was being quite aggressive about having people gate check bags. I wasn’t about to check my bag before flying from Cape Town to Johannesburg to London to Toronto to Vancouver to Los Angeles.
Fortunately by the time my boarding pass was scanned he was checking three other peoples’ bags, so he was distracted, which was good.
The bus ride to the plane took about 10 minutes, and it was so cool to board the A340-600 by stairs. Aesthetically I think the A340-600 is one of the most beautiful planes out there, even if it’s not necessarily my favorite plane to fly.
But getting so close to the such a long plane is pretty awesome.
SAA Lounge Cape Town bottom line
While the South African Airways Lounge Cape Town was well designed and had a good food spread, the unusable wifi was disappointing, and frankly, unacceptable.