The national flag carrier of South Africa holds the title as the most awarded airline in Africa. I was lucky enough to experience that award-winning service first-hand recently.
I travelled on board South African Airways for our journey from Perth, Australia through to Entebbe, Uganda via Johannesburg South Africa. Here’s what I thought:
CHECK-IN & BEYOND
The check-in staff were friendly and happy to assist with seating preferences and general information about the airport.
I was relieved to find my bags would be checked all the way through to Entebbe, Uganda. Nothing worse than having to transit and collect bags only to check-in again.
Flying Economy Class, there was no lounge access included, but Business Class or Gold SAA Voyager Frequent Flyer members or higher can access the shared Qantas lounge in Perth International Airport.
Transiting in Johannesburg on the flight over is a bit frustrating due to the early morning arrival, not much is open throughout the airport. Once the shops do open, however, make sure you visit the Out of Africa shop, definitely a favourite of mine.
I was lucky enough to have lounge access to the SAA Premium Lounge. Lounges certainly do make the time pass fast. Once I had showered and freshened up for my next flight to Entebbe, sussed out what the lounge had to offer and grabbed a bite to eat, it was time to depart again.
Flight SAA281 from Perth to Johannesburg in Economy Class on the Airbus A340-300 has 216 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration, separated into two sections.
At check-in I opted for seat 54G on the aisle in the middle set of four seats, and because the flight was not full, I had the two seats next to me empty. This allowed me to spread out a little bit more than just occupying 17-inch-wide and 33.5 pitch seat. Always a bonus when flying Economy.
The seat is just like any other airline seat, has its gadgets to allow the seat to recline, a little footrest tucked below. I was pleased to see there was in-seat entertainment. Something about holding the remote and controlling my viewing was comforting on such a long flight.
FOOD & WINE
One of the best things for me about flying SAA is the wine selection. I am a big fan of South African wines so it is good to see they are sourcing local for their in-flight offering.
An à la carte menu is paired with these South African wines, soft drinks and warm beverages. I am not usually a fan of airplane food but I did like that SAA offered a selection of chicken, red meat and vegetarian.
I chose the vegetarian option of ravioli with sweet potato mash, vegetables and pesto sauce. It wasn’t too bad at all. I wish I could say the same for the breakfast of omelette, soft potatoes and baked beans.
Each seat is equipped with an Audio-Visual-On-Demand system and a choice of over 100 movies including the latest blockbusters, games, radio stations and selection of recorded music.
Settling into an 11-hour flight, I mapped out my assault on the inflight entertainment. There was a decent selection of viewing material and I mentally saw the hour dissolve into movies, documentaries and various destination guides.
The music playlists were a little dated and I am thankful I downloaded my Spotify playlists to fill the hours when I just need to chill out to some tunes.
It was a comfortable flight with the long distance made bearable by the friendly staff, who were keen to chat about South Africa and what I was doing when I got to Uganda.
I think after a total of 14 hours flying you will start chatting to anyone to pass the time.
The routing was what appealed most about this flight, with only one transit leaving Australia via Johannesburg to get to my final African destination.
You can also choose to collect frequent flyer points with SAA Voyager Frequent Flyer Program (free to join) or with Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer Program (also free to join).
Flight: SA281 – Perth (PER) to Johannesburg (JNB) / SA160 – Johannesburg (JNB) to Entebbe (EBB)
Seat: 54G – Economy Class – Aisle / 17F – Economy Class – Exit Row – Window
Flight time: 11 hours / 4 Hours
Timing: All flights were on time and checking through customs and exiting Entebbe airport is a quick process (under 30 mins) as long as you have pre-processed your entry visa online.
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