Review of SA Airlink flight Johannesburg Skukuza in Economy

Airline SA Airlink
Flight SA8865
Class Economy
Seat 13C
Aircraft Embraer ERJ135
Flight time 0:50
Take-off 18 Jul 17, 13:20
Arrival at 18 Jul 17, 14:10
4Z 9 reviews
st7515
By 299
Published on 12th August 2017
CDG – MUC / Airbus A320-214 CEO SL D-AIUT Lufthansa LH2239 Economy K / 6 AM Beer City Flug [THERE]

MUC – SOF / Airbus A320-214 CEO SL Lufthansa LH1702 Economy K / Eastern Orient Express [THERE]

SOF – VIE / Airbus A320-200 CEO OE-LBP Austrian OS796 Business C / Vienna coffee [THERE]

VIE – FRA / Airbus A319-100 CEO OE-LDG Austrian OS125 Business C / Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 [THERE]

FRA – JNB / Boeing 747-8i D-ABYO Lufthansa LH572 Business C Upper Deck / I’m leaving on a jet plane, (I know) when I’ll be back again [THERE]

> JNB – SZK / Embraer 135 ZS-SWN South African Airlink SA8865 Economy Q / A different kind of animal [YOU ARE HERE]

SZK – MQP / Cessna Caravan C208-B ZS-MLT South African Airlink SA8930 Economy Y / Dreaming of Cessna [THERE]

MQP – JNB / Embraer 140 ZS-ALR South African Airlink SA8828 Economy Q / Outclassing the road [THERE]

JNB – DUR / Airbus A330-200 ZS-SXV South African Airways SA559 Business C / Comfy old cabin [THERE]

DUR – CPT / Boeing 738WL ZS-ZWU British Airways by Comair BA6310 Business U / On the ‘Business’ again [THERE]

CPT – GRJ / Embraer 135 ZS-SWN South African Airlink SA8631 Economy Q / Lost Garden route flightpath [THERE]

PLZ – JNB / Boeing 737-800 Split Scimitar winglets ZS-ZWH British Airways by Comair BA6242 Economy O / From Port Elizabeth with chill [THERE]

JNB – FRA / Boeing 747-8i D-ABYR Lufthansa LH573 First C Nose / "Luck"

FRA – VIE / Airbus A320 CEO OE-LBL Austrian OS128 Business C / Good Morning Austria

VIE – SOF / Airbus A320 CEO OE-LBM Austrian OS795 Business C / Foodstock

SOF – MUC / Embraer 195 D-AEMD Lufthansa LH1705 Cityline Economy K / …6.5 hours later

MUC – CDG / Airbus A319-100 CEO D-AILY Lufthansa LH2238 Economy K / Clap-my-end or "I (don't) love Paris, in the summer…"

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Welcome or Welkom should I say, to this 6th FR of the routing and 6th and last flight in a row^^

We landed at 8:30AM in Jo'burg this morning and got our bags to check-them again to Skukuza which was our final destination.
And trust me, landside with trolleys, it is long.
If you think you'll be able to check your bags without getting landside… WRONG !
You have to go out to Terminal B for Airlink, which is a subsidiary of South African Airways (5AA / SA). From the flights I've taken with them (4), I'd say most of their passengers are tourists compared to South African Airways or SA Express. Therefore, the product is a bit better, especially the catering.
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Here we are at the right ones
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Airside, it is not a very beautiful terminal on the domestic part, it has not aged very well and is not shiny like the new modern ones.
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The real issue though is being winter, downstairs was extemely cold because of the gates being constantly opened for nothing by the airlines staff.
The boarding was called late. The agents were not very friendly, this seems to apply only in Jo'burg weirdly. We were transfered to our plane by paxbus. One of them has a "zebra" scheme which I find nice.
Boarding into this gorgeous Embraer 135 registered ZS-SWN (after "swan" maybe ?)

When I entered the aircraft, because I had landed in JNB at half past 8AM, I wrongly said "Good morning" to which the FA actually corrected me like I did not know how to speak by a "Good af-ter-noon" which I did find a bit rude to answer instead of just saying "it's already the afternoon Sir" or else, Idk.
The crew was not very friendly on this flight. I don't know if there was something between the two female FA (normally there is only one) but I felt a tension. Not good to show this to pax.
The overhead bins are small (this is not a large bag)
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The cabin was quite empty. I'd say one third of the seats were occupied.
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Leather seats in navy blue from the early 2000's probably, but well conserved

The overhead panel looked old but still not used.
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Taxi was a bit long but not too much considering the traffic and the size of the airport

We are now at holding point ready to engage into runway 21R
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Pay close attention to this shot : an Airlink ERJ using reverse ?! Yes, as not suprising as it may seems to you, this is not standard procedure at Airlink. Out of the 3 flights using ERJ 135 or 140 I've taken, none used their reverse "thrust". This is probably a maintenance concern as using reverse increases maintenance cost of the engines. But the brakes are not very well maintained either from what I've heard.

Obviously, I haven't mentioned it earlier in this FR, but I chose the pair of seats on purpose. I LOVE the engines roar. One thing to note here, the ERJ series with rear mounted engines are way much quieter than a Boeing 717 ! Day and night.

Some more shots of the cabin ? There you go!

Some shots of the engines, sorry for the blur
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The catering was nice with a choice of sandwhich (remember, this is a 45 minutes flight) between chicken and beef. I chose beef and the portion was huge ! Even my hand look small compared to the sandwich ! The taste was very nice.

As a drink, I chose a fruit juice from the reknown South African brand Ceres available in all supermarkets, a good choice as well.
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Now, let's look at the seatback pocket content
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(I haven't done this on purpose :D)
Safety card in good shape
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Center pages
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Rear page
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Wingtip through the "13A automatic shade" (vibration activated)
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The approach over the park's border was monotonous as the vegetation in the Kruger area is truely what we would call "dry" although on the wet season there are floodings (I can't believe it but still, it happens like in DRW for instance)

Landing into a National Park, that's a first time for me !

And we were on-time.
The taxi was obviously quite short despite the fact that we had to do a 180° turn at the end of the runway 'cause there is no taxiway along the only runway here.

See you in two weeks Sierra Whisky November !
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Skukuza airport is a place of wonder, peace and relaxation. I absolutely adore it (and it is just the landside that you see here, wait for the airside!)

Our hotel, the Protea Paul Kruger Gate **** picked us up from the airport altough to my transfer queries they NEVER answered which was very frustrating. I don't like when I don't know if someone will come to pick us up or not. It does not seem very reliable. But, they were there.
We paid our conservation fees around R76/pax (the rate for nationals) despite the fact we were international guests and the airport's website indicated a fee of more than R300 something when NOT exiting to the Sabi Sand lodge (which was our case). According to our driver, it had changed "recently". Not sure what to believe here. I would advise you to take 350/pax just in case it changes again.
One thing is for sure, you won't find a similar airport car park anywhere else ;)
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See more

Verdict

SA Airlink

8.0/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew6.5
Entertainment6.5
Meal/catering10.0

Johannesburg - JNB

5.4/10
Efficiency6.0
Access5.0
Services4.0
Cleanliness6.5

Skukuza - SZK

10.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

Everything was obviously up to the standard of guests travelling to the expensive lodges around Kruger. This is not surprising that the catering was pretty good considering the price of the flight as well. But I will talk about this point on the last FR of the routing.

Related

2 Comments

  • Comment 408383 by
    RichieRSA 32 Comments

    hello, you are very tough on JNB airport as it is easily accessible, with good service, well organized and much cleaner compared to lot of airports in Europe or America.... your note don't reflect well the reality.

      0
    • Comment 408389 by
      st7515 AUTHOR 198 Comments

      Hello,

      From the five flights I took that arrived there or departed from there, it was each time very difficult to get around : confusing indications, porter scam, long walking, extremely long security queues, no priority lane (except if you pay BidAir), mostly unfriendly staff (and I am the most friendly person to staff like, on earth), not enough light comes into the terminal and they even lost one of our luggages while in domestic transit.

      The downstairs gates, as I said, were very cold and there were almost nothing as services there and I'm not even talking about boarding agents literaly fighting because a new recruit did not know how to use the boarding computers whereas she clearly had not been trained to do so, which caused a delay to a Mango flight.

      Sorry if you like this airport, but I found it very impractical. To me, it is subpar to what we have in Europe/US, like CDG, AMS, LHR, FRA, MUC, JFK, DFW, CLT... But I grant you with no problem that VIE is even worse than JNB and is in Europe.

      In my opinion, JNB receives more flights than its staff can/wants/is able to handle.
      Furthermore, JNB's average mark on FR is just 6.8 meaning it is not the dream airport. I give it 5.4 so it is not really a terrible mark ;)

        0

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