I went to South Africa with my family for the New Year holidays. I had little flexibility in the dates and this is not the period for great discounts. The only reasonable business class rate I had was with EgyptAir. Yes, EgyptAir does not have a great reputation for punctuality, customer service or onboard service and Cairo Airport is certainly not considered to be the best airport in the world yet I was looking forward to my trip.
We arrived from Durban. Leaving the plane and getting landside was quick. Johannesburg airport is large but nice, modern and easy to use.
The check-in area for Egyptair was B1.
Check-in was quick and efficiant. Free luggage wrapping was offered, although a tip was expected.
Security was also quick. Only laptops needed to be removed from the bags, not other electronics and no belts or shoes.
Passport control was also quick. Be careful if you travel with kids, especially if only one parent travels with kid(s): a birth certificate is sometimes necessary, sometimes not.
I was asked at check-in if I wanted a smoking or a non-smoking lounge – rather surprising. I went for the non-smoking of course which was the South African Airlines Premium Lounge near gate A7.
Staff was friendly. The lounge is huge and offers plenty of seating, although some of the furniture look old and need to be replaced.
Toilets are inside the lounge and so are showers.
There’s a good choice of reasonable quality of hot food. I had some lentil soup and beef with rice and both of them were good.
There’s a salad bar.
A small choice of desserts.
There’s a serviced bar. The South African chardonnay I had was good. The coffee machine:
The view from the lounge.
Priority boarding was available and was quick.
A towel and some fruit juices as welcome drink were offered before take-off.
Water was waiting at the seat.
The amenity kit was the same as on the previous flight.
Push-back was at 21.40 for a scheduled departure time of 21.45. An EgyptAir flight leaving on time! An expected flight time of 7 hours and 50 minutes was announced. Take-off was at 21.55.
Flight information and map some time after take-off.
The cabin at night.
Dinner was served about 50 minutes after take-off. There was no printed menu. Appetizer, salad and cheese were served on a plate. Both of the two small pieces of cheese were basic cheese from the supermarket.
A short time later a choice of three mains was offered from a cart: chicken, fish or beef. I had the fish which was OK but not very good. It would have been a good meal in economy but below standards for business.
Dessert was forgotten.
The movie selection seems to be renewed with a very good choice of recent movies.
A pax was listening to loud music when I was trying to sleep after dinner. I had to ask him to stop it which he did. I fell asleep somewhere around Lilongwe.
Despite the seat being very uncomfortable for sleeping I slept for several hours as I was quite exhausted. I woke up somewhere near the Sudan-Egypt border.
Breakfast was served one hour before landing. There was only cold breakfast which was fine for me. While breakfast was nothing exceptional, it was still better than dinner. Orange juice was served only after I asked for it. Why isn't it automatically offered with breakfast?
The cabin crew was fairly efficient on this flight but otherwise only did the minimum, and smiling did not seem to be part of the job.
We landed in Cairo at 05.10 for a scheduled arrival time of 05.45. We reached our parking position at 05.20.
South African Airways Premium Lounge
Johannesburg - JNB
Cairo - CAI
Why this flight had some positive characteristics such as an easy check-in, the South African Airlines lounge at JNB and an improved in-flight entertainment, EgyptAir’s business class is behind competition in what’s the most important for many travellers: seats, catering and cabin crew.
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