Review of British Airways flight Johannesburg London in Business

Airline British Airways
Flight BA56
Class Business
Seat 57D
Aircraft Airbus A380-800
Flight time 11:00
Take-off 24 Feb 14, 20:10
Arrival at 25 Feb 14, 05:10
BA   #45 out of 71 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 876 reviews
East African
Published on 20th January 2016
Greetings everyone,

Let me share this little overdue FR since it should have been posted 2 years ago, my bad!
The other day, while i checked where or what i could afford with my Avios points, essentially earned via my British Premier Mastercard, i was truly disappointed to learn that after the devaluation of the Executive Club program, it now becomes impossible to fly this route and any other African long haul destinations – the back up plan now appears on a return trip on the regional routes from HKG to Japan or South Korea with JL or CX this year or in 2017, but if you have a better idea, please let me know as i ain't familiar with Asian routings/cities!

Back to this report. It was only my second time flying with Speedbird despite using an award ticket with the option cash and miles.

As i spent the week end in the fabulous Cape Town region (and you are strongly recommended to visit if you have yet to go there) here are a fews pics:

France and Uruguay drew 0 – 0 during the group stage of her worst (ever) World Cup.
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A shy bontebok
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Hout Bay from Chapman's Peak Drive
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Leaving the arrivals hall from the CPT – JNB leg on the classic A346 ride at 3:30 pm allowed me a comfortable margin for checking in, spotting, strolling and more.

Prior any airline desks every passenger identity must be verified by a private security company. While the lady in her mid-thirties scrutinized my passport, I joyfully informed her, on purpose, that it was my very first time in business class with BA. I'm not 100% sure what she exactly understood with this last sentence but it rang a bell and followed a forceful interrogation.

Since there was plenty of time to spare (4:30), i patiently played ball with this cute but very stubborn agent. Eventually, one of her colleagues joined the lengthy discussion to support her or to scare me off further. Thankgod the caucasian supervisor showed up at some point and ushered me to the desk after asking a trivial question.

I collected the boarding pass from a chatty mature BA agent but could not obtain a window seat at the counter, even if i knew it since the eve during the OLCI.

Unique in Southern Africa.
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Premium check in counters
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Note the « Indef dly » for the flight to D.R. Of Congo… In this situation, one would rather see the mention « cancelled »    .
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For those of you who are not aware or who are heading off to JNB soon, two landside observation decks offer great views although being a bit far from the runways. The easiest one is located above the arrivals hall area at the atrium linking TA with TB. The second one requires a bit of walking through the corridors but the view guarantees much better results and also one can find the permanent and free Oliver Reginald Tambo Memorial exhibition which is defintely worth a visit. 
Spotting wise during this time frame, except some local airlines, only a mighty DL 777 landed.

SA A332 SJ-SXV, DL 772LR N702DN, QF 744 VH-OJC, BA 733 ZS-OKK and EK 773 A6-ECJ
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To my surprise for a modern airport, JNB does not provide a separate lane for J pax either at immigration nor at the security checks, thankfully it was very early before the evening wave of departures to the Northern hemisphere!

The Galleries Lounge:

The reception desk was well attended by 2  pleasant and helpful BA staff on this lounge divided into two (F and J) sections. It opens at 4:00 pm until 10:30 pm to cater the 2 daily BA flights departing at 8:10 and 9:30 pm.
The J area is long and narrow, with a low ceiling and a wider section at the end - which has some windows looking into the terminal (at the opposite of South African Baobab lounge visible here). As you go towards the back the self-service food and bar area is located approximately in the middle. I did not check if champagne was available or not. One can find a great variety of cold cuts, a salad bar, sandwiches, wraps, hot meals, cheese slices, delicious pastries and cakes.
On the right after the entrance there are a business center and 3 bathrooms. Overall the decoration is nice and offering, i guess, on par with other outstation lounges. 

When i reached there it was very quiet and progressively filled up. After i settled down and started taking pictures an obnoxious old waitress asked me the reason (personal) of the pictures. Satisfied with that, she added, in a normal tone, that i could not take too many pictures though.(?!?!)

3 to 5 minutes later, she came back and aggresively urged me to stop this activity. I immediately complied with her rule since everything needed was in the memory card. Later on, before i showered she mentioned loudly to me and every traveller waiting that we must hurry for the use of the bathroom because one was out of order and, at around 7:00, 7 people were still waiting their turn. What a poor last impression left of the legendary South African hospitality…

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First Class to the left, Club World and others to the right
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Free wifi at the Business Center
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Red and white wines are available!
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Nice selection of beers
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Sandwiches and wraps
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(Left) Potato gnocchi & tomato and basil onions and parmesan  ; (right) Seasonal vegetables
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Beef pot roast with Porcini mushrooms and baby onion in port wine jus (really good!)
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Chicken curry with sambals & poppadoms
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Yellow lentils
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Trying a bit of everything
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At around 6:15 pm it started to fill up quickly
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Spacious bathroom (suitable for disabled travellers), with Elemis toiletries.
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I made my way to the gate at 7:20 after some window shopping. Up to now here is my one and only A380 experience which had the peculiarity to be only caused by luck, indeed there was no special desire to log it, let alone with BA.

AF A380 F-HPJ(?)
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G-XLEC, BA's 3rd A380 delivered the 18/10/2013 ( taken during the afternoon) photo DSC04430_zps3718e71e

First flight on the 25/03/2013 (taken during the CPT-JNB trip)
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The cabin:

Friendly welcome by a female pursuer in her fifties with a noticeable Geordie accent at the upper deck. On each deck can be found a Business class cabin roughly located at the middle of the plane. At the main deck it welcomes 44 passengers with a 2-4-2 configuration whereas upstairs, with a more intimate feel in 2-3-2 accomodates 53 pax. Surely seats are not all-aisle access just as EY and SQ do offer but it was only disturbing when meals were served to my seatmate, a quiet and lovely South African lady going to London for one week business. This damn divider removes the feel of privacy with the nasty sound and the lay out of the seats – A Great British style, huh!

 Welcome aboard 
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Essential guide for a rookie like myself
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Seat pitch of 73'' and seat width of 20''
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Taittinger as PDB
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Three champagnes to choose from, wow very nice!
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A Kir Royale and some crunchy Kenyan nuts « Out Of Africa ».
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Supper menu looks good but not great !
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The meals:

No wow – factor at all. The starter looked fresh and tasted excellent but the main was certainly overcooked and very basic in term of content.The plate of cheeses was simple but good, though the sickly sweet chutney tasted weird, what a funny conbination! The drink menu is simply impressive.
The breakfast was served in two separate times. Even if i was stuffed due to a little snack taken from Club Kitchen around midnight, i could not resist to one of the British classics, the Traditional English Breakfast. I lenjoyed it very much, very generous portion, appetizing and not greasy at all.

Smoked tuna carpaccio with tomato vinaigrette
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Fresh and healthy salad
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Zoom in on this delicious starter
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Wine list, i opted for the hard to resist Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011.
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Grilled AAA Karan beef fillet with red wine jus, boulangère potatoes and roasted pumpkin ;
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A typical British (Airways ?) cooking, humm btw where is the roasted pumpkin ?
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Simonsberg 12 month mature Cheddar and Fairview Camenbert cheese (with a dip of chutney), a mug of coffee and an almost customary Baileys
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The seat:

Apart from the lack of privacy of being in the aisle, i had a good night's sleep in this full flat comfortable seat, the blanket was thick enough! The seats to get here, if you are after storage, are the window seats as they give access to a side locker for laptops, magazines and other things. To be honest i was more into trying a reverse take off than anything else … unfortunately, BA Blue members must pay a hefty £80 fee to preselect their favourite seat, so a no go for me, maybe next time.

Premium passengers' worst nightmare?
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Another USB socket, a video RCA connection  and the remote
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Now time to sleep in this 6ft full flat bed   .
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 The IFE: 

The best i've ever seen, it's comprehensive and in high definition, The 3D map is absolutely amazing.

Just after the coffee service, an alleged cute infant started crying for a very long time, it was really annoying. I do understand that parents paid for his seat (even if it's a fraction), but even with the noise cancelling headphones on, every passenger could hear him screaming. I hoped that one of his parents would take him away from the cabin to recomfort him, but nothing happened though; hence we endured 20 mins of disturbance but thankgod not in the middle of the night. 

A good noise-cancelling headphones although i could hear the kid crying
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Thales TopSeries IFE System featuring over 1,600 hours of entertainment…
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…On a neat 10.4'' touchscreen. You gotta love this hi-resolution 3D Interactive GeoFusion flight map    .
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I also enjoyed the incredibly intense movie «  Captain Phillips »
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Very spacious bathroom containing a nice range of Elemis products, have you noticed the pretty daisy ?
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Club Kitchen
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My midnight snack
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 The crew members:

A French-speaking Canadian; she was remarkable from start to finish. She was working on both A380 and 777. Instead of, as usual, mispronouncing my family name during the order taking or introduction, kneeled down, she asked for its correct pronunciation! Furthermore throughout the flight, she anticipated all my requests (although, a little too much for somebody used to the Economy Class lol). Clearly, she represented an asset to this airline!

This Spaniard clearly looked more reserved, he did not smile a lot which does not fit the usual cliché i have from Spanish people. He was proactive though and after the breakfast he had a kind gesture…

Mood lighting on waking
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What's on the menu this morning ? 
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Chilled fruit juice, fresh fruit and a selection of warm […] breakfast pastries
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Traditional English breakfast of omelette with grilled back bacon, pork sausage, mushrooms and sautéed potatoes
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11h were more like 11 mins  .
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On time
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 The Arrivals Lounge: 

After a smooth and quiet landing, immigration could have been faster, 25 mins after deplaning i made my way to the Arrivals lounge, landside.
This place is pretty good, everything is well organised to ease the best start of the day. I grabbed a quick breakfast, showered and then indulged myself with a little treatment at the Elemis Spa. Naomi welcomed me quiclky because of the time. Surely, the waiting list must be longer at 9 am or 1 pm. Obviously after the comments heard in JNB, i asked one of the staff before taking pictures and she answered No problem, feel free…

Let the pictures do the talking now:

T5 Arrivals hall
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F&B buffets
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Hot food at 6:00 am
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Second breakfast
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Rest area
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Along with a back massage, i went for a « Deep Clean Aviator Facial »
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The end
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See more


British Airways

Cabin crew8.0

Bristish Airways Terraces Lounge


Johannesburg - JNB


London - LHR




I put the same marks as given on the French versioN, just to be fair!

Thanks for reading!

Information on the route Johannesburg (JNB) London (LHR)


If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 155487 by
    Nick 172 Comments

    Great report! Too bad you couldn't snag a window seat. I've never flown in this cabin, but from reading other reports it's amazing how much more private the window seats are compared to the aisles. Pretty annoying that you have to pay an extra £80 to pre-select a seat.

    The BA lounge at JNB seemed pretty legit (I've never been there) though it got a little crowded as your flight neared. The food selection looks better than what I've experienced at the Baobab and Bidvest lounges. The BA arrivals lounge looked pretty sharp too. Certainly better than most lounges in the US.

    • Comment 333135 by
      East African AUTHOR 1543 Comments

      Hey Nick thanks for stopping by!
      Good strategy for BA which allows only premium Executive Class members to select their seat which reveals the future trend in the airline industry unfortunately! Thus imho, i gladly deserved the seat i've got as a less than nothing john Doe and as being stingy to pay the extra 80 quids haha! Compared to what SAA offers (following your nice report) it's worse than a 2-2-2 lay out, also you ate a nice appetizer instead of pre-packed cold nuts!

      Very nice for you to try out the Baobab lounge and the Bidvest, were these flights both with SAA? Anyway, I can't wait to immerse myself again in both places if you write a FR, of course!

      BA arrivals is a way much better than AF's one tried some ... 6 years ago lol, which airline holds the most premium arrivals lounge according to you in the US?

      This year, plans suggest me to go to Africa in May-June, September-October and also even i don't want to, in December... what about you?

  • Comment 155795 by
    Nick 172 Comments

    I actually recently got back from an African trip and am trying to get to the flight reports soon. I was in the Baobab lounge while flying South African and the Bidvest lounge while flying Qatar Airways.

    I'm not even aware of any arrivals lounges in the US. Mostly because I almost never fly in business class, but also because I doubt many exist in the US. Compared to the tired looking departure lounges in the US though, the BA arrivals lounge looks really nice.

  • Comment 156203 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5885 Comments

    Better late than never! And glad you posted this great report!

    To my surprise for a modern airport, JNB does not provide a separate lane for J pax either at immigration nor at the security checks, thankfully it was very early before the evening wave of departures to the Northern hemisphere!
    - I hated that at JNB! Lucky you were there early. I remember it was such a total clusterf*** going through security and immigration. It was completely disorganized with people trying to cut the line and indifferent security agents not lifting a finger to bring some order. It took over an hour to get through. Terrible!

    The Lounge has a really good offering. I like BA lounges and find that they have decent food--certainly better than any U.S. carrier lounges.

    The catering on board is usually not as good, as you say No wow – factor at all. Yep, it's BA, catering is always kind of meh, but the drink options are usually noteworthy. Taittinger is a good champagne for Business class IMO.

    A typical British (Airways ?) cooking, humm btw where is the roasted pumpkin ?
    - Yep! cooked beyond recognition, haha.

    unfortunately, BA Blue members must pay a hefty £80 fee to preselect their favourite seat, so a no go for me, maybe next time.
    - So ridiculous to make Business class pax pay for seat assignments! Luckily, I get free choice of seats with Emerald status, but the practice is shameful. I can understand doing that with cheap Y tickets, but not in J!

    The English breakfast looks yummy! The arrivals lounge looks good. Was there a separate First section?

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 371447 by
    bryoobee 3 Comments

    thanks for sharing

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