Review of CemAir flight Johannesburg Kimberley in Economy

Airline CemAir
Flight 5Z518
Class Economy
Seat 2A
Flight time 01:25
Take-off 25 Mar 24, 14:00
Arrival at 25 Mar 24, 15:25
5Z 1 reviews
Lia_K
By SILVER 5434
Published on 9th June 2024

SPECIAL, SENTIMENTAL & SLIGHTLY SHADY


Hello and welcome to another Flight Report!

This is FR number 2 of my South Africa trip and will cover my first domestic flight from Johannesburg to Kimberley. I have to be honest, I don't feel like Kimberley is really worth visiting if you're just here for a short trip, most people who visit are driving between Johannesburg and Cape Town and are just using it as a stop off point. As for me? I knew I had to pay Kimberley a visit when I was planning this trip, mainly for personal reasons. 

I had about 4 hours transit in Johannesburg after stepping off my flight from Maputo, which was made shorter by the insanely long queue for immigration (all the European long-hauls arrive in the morning). Rather interestingly, I was talking to another tourist from the US and he told me that immigration was brought to a complete standstill with a power cut when he arrived (in the evening). Apparently load-shedding also applies to airports? Not sure what happened there but it was interesting hearing his 2 hour long nightmare experience at the airport. 

Anyway, as for price, I paid R‎2004 ($104/€98) for a single, which includes seat selection and checked baggage. 


Routing


I aim to offset all of my CO2 emission from flights. All emissions are calculated using the ICAO Carbon Emissions Calculator and I will be funding projects approved by The Gold Standard. The CO2 output for this flight is:

JNB → KIM: 212kg
Total for 2024 (so far): 2054kg


video report


Here's the video report for this FR, it's got pretty much the same thing content wise



Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International airport (JNB)


The check-in area. This is Terminal B, or the domestic terminal. International departures go out of Terminal A, which is 5 minutes walk away. 


photo img_1343


Another photo of the area. The airport is very safe, at least inside. Just don't walk outside the airport at all, although the general rule of never walking outside alone is pretty much true for most of South Africa. 


photo img_1344

Load-shedding - something that all South Africans are very familiar with however it's a rather alien concept to most Westerners. It's basically when electricity is deliberately shut off to parts of the city to reduce strain on the network (when the demand exceeds the supply). Unfortunately, like most things in South Africa, it disproportionately affects the poor more than the rich. 


photo img_1346


Security took around 5 minutes, and here are the gates. 


photo img_1347


There a good number of restaurants, both eat-in and fast food. 


photo img_1349


Our flight, being operated by a Dash 8-100, will depart out of a remote stand. Here are the bus gates. 


photo img_1352

The flight


Surprisingly, while 90% of flights in South Africa is tracked by FR24, smaller airlines like CemAir aren't so no route information sadly. Aircraft information is available thankfully so there's no guessing the aircraft type this time. ;)

Boarding started on time and here's a Safair Boeing 737-800 (ZS-FGX) heading to Cape Town (CPT).


photo img_1355


There were just 5 of us on this flight, which meant no waiting at all. Here's a photo of the apron as we head towards the plane. 


photo img_1357

From left to right: An Airlink Embraer 170 heading to Richards Bay (RCB) (a city near Durban, if that helps). She's in the old livery when the airline was still called SA Airlink. 

A South African Airways Boeing 737-800 heading to Cape Town (CPT). She's wet-leased from Turkish Airline SunExpress (hence the blue tail).

Another Safair Boeing 737-800 in the old livery, no clue where she's heading to. 


And here's our plane. 


photo img_1359

Some information about our plane:

Type: De Havilland Canada DHC-8-100
Registration: ZS-DHC
First flight: 13 March 1986
Age: 38 years
Config: Y37

A Dash 8-100 with a very interesting history. She was delivered to Fairways (an now defunct American charter company) in April 1986. She then flew for the US Department of Justice from March 1997 before joining CemAir in November 2014. 


Just the standard Dash 8 seats onboard. 


photo img_1361


However, unlike other Dash 8s, the legroom on this one is really good. 


photo img_1362


Taxiing out 5 minutes late. 


photo 1


Takeoff past some parked heavies. These are all the morning arrivals and will park here until 7-8PM when they'll head back to Europe. 


photo 2


Nice views as we climb through the clouds. 


photo img_1363


Surprisingly, CemAir actually gives out sandwiches on this flight. Most airlines just give out a small snack on Dash 8 flights. 


photo img_1364


Another photo outside the window. 


photo img_1367


Pretty soon after that we started our descent over… nothing… there's literally nothing below us apart from dirt and hills. Being from the UK, I'm really not used to places with such a low population density. 


photo 5


Finally! Civilization! 


photo 6


Welcome to the Northern Cape! We arrived 5 minutes late. 


photo 7

Kimberley airport (kim)


The terminal building. It's not a big airport (as you'll see in my next FR). 


photo img_1368


And here's the baggage reclaim belt. 


photo img_1370


One last photo of our plane from the belt. 


photo img_1371


If you're coming to South Africa. The general rule is to never hold your phone out in public places. Generally airports are safe but it's better to be safe than sorry, especially in smaller airports like Kimberley. I had an interesting chat with my taxi driver on the way to the hotel, he casually mentioned to me that he really like Kimberley because it's a lot more "chilled out" than the bigger cities because there's no traffic (which is really nice) and that there's no police (which, to me, doesn't seem very nice). I was quite alarmed by how casually he mentioned it, more so after someone attempted to rob him while we were stopped at a light. He was holding his phone out and I just saw someone sprinting towards him from the other side of the road. Apparently that was normal because he just smiled, waved his phone at the guy and calmly drove off. Yeah… needless to say I didn't try walking around the city, which is something I like to do whenever I'm visiting a new place. 

Talking about taxis, if you are coming here, I'd highly recommend pre-booking a taxi before you get here. Also make sure to do it a few days in advance. There's only like 2 taxi companies and like a small handful of drivers. One of those companies cancelled on me on my 2nd day (the sole driver was running late) and I spent over an hour trying to find another taxi (they all ended up going to voicemail). I (thankfully) did end up making it back to the hotel, only after I had phoned the reception to call a taxi for me… 

I'll end this FR here. My next FR in this series should cover the return flight back to Johannesburg. Thanks for reading and see you there! 

See more

Verdict

CemAir

8.5/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Buy-on-board menu9.5

Johannesburg - JNB

8.6/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.5
Services10.0
Cleanliness7.0

Kimberley - KIM

7.5/10
Efficiency9.5
Access6.0
Services6.5
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

A nice, short flight with CemAir. Crew was awesome, catering is on par with what you'd expect for the region (which is very nice, at least compared to Europe/North America). They're a much smaller airline than Airlink (who also serves the route), which means smaller planes, less passengers and less options, especially to smaller airports like Kimberley. All in all, a reliable airline and a good option for travel in South Africa, if their schedule works for your itiniary.

Johannesburg O.R Tambo International Airport (JNB) - The first of many reviews you'll see of this airport. A ton of restaurants, especially in the landside area. A bit crowded in the small domestic terminal but it's not a huge problem, especially if you walk to the end of the terminal.

Kimberley Airport (KIM) - Another tiny airport (at least it's not a tent!). Not much going on and I'd highly recommend pre-arranging transport to/from the airport (or rent a car). See the last paragraph for why.

Related

6 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 653073 by
    A380-842 27 Comments
    Thanks for this Flight-Report !

    Load-shedding - something that all South Africans are very familiar with however it's a rather alien concept to most Westerners. It's basically when electricity is deliberately shut off to parts of the city to reduce strain on the network (when the demand exceeds the supply).


    It's been years and it doesn't seem to stop...

    And here's our plane.


    38 years old ! This plane is the oldest in Cemair's fleet.

    Surprisingly, CemAir actually gives out sandwiches on this flight. Most airlines just give out a small snack on Dash 8 flights.


    It's great to have service on a 1 hour flight, especially compared to what European airlines can offer...

    I was quite alarmed by how casually he mentioned it, more so after someone attempted to rob him while we were stopped at a light.


    It's actually quite frequent in South Africa to have such problems. And when there is load-shedding, the traffic lights don't even work... It's quite scary.
    • Comment 653084 by
      Lia_K SILVER AUTHOR 79 Comments
      Hi! Yeah, it's unfortunate they can't seem to solve the energy issue there. Can't imagine what it's like to have to live with load-shedding for years.

      38 years old ! This plane is the oldest in Cemair's fleet.


      Oh really? Didn't realize it's the oldest. Most Q100/200s are quite old these days.

      It's great to have service on a 1 hour flight, especially compared to what European airlines can offer...


      Most definitely! Service in Africa is so much better than what you get (or don't get) in Europe.

      And when there is load-shedding, the traffic lights don't even work...


      Oh really? I was wondering why some lights weren't working. Gosh, I can imagine it being quite terrifying, especially with the crime rate.

      Thanks for reading!
  • Comment 653106 by
    VM 12 Comments
    I didn't fly CemAir (I was told they are extremely unreliable and they tend to lose people's bags) or FlySafair during my trip so great to see a review on them.
    Security took around 5 minutes

    It's a very efficient airport, I don't think there was a line for check-in or security on any of my flights in South Africa.
    Surprisingly, CemAir actually gives out sandwiches on this flight. Most airlines just give out a small snack on Dash 8 flights.

    Wow, I thought CemAir only gave snacks. Catering on flights in South Africa is incredible, I flew to Kruger and back with Airlink and they gave snacks and drinks even flying time was barely half an hour.
    there's no police (which, to me, doesn't seem very nice)

    I found that a lot of people really don't like the police there, it seems like they never actually do anything to stop crime but they do harass people for bribes.
    There's only like 2 taxi companies and like a small handful of drivers.

    I had no idea Kimberley was so small!
    Seems like it was a great flight overall, I'll have to fly them if I ever visit SA again.
    • Comment 653213 by
      Lia_K SILVER AUTHOR 79 Comments
      Hi VM! I had no idea they were that unreliable. I probably wouldn't have flown with them had you told me that before the flight haha.

      I flew to Kruger and back with Airlink and they gave snacks and drinks even flying time was barely half an hour.


      I flew with them on the return (that FR is coming soon) and yeah, I barely had time to finish everything with how short the flight was.

      I found that a lot of people really don't like the police there, it seems like they never actually do anything to stop crime but they do harass people for bribes.


      Oh really? That's not too surprising honestly with the crime rate (and how most places employ their own private security).

      I had no idea Kimberley was so small!


      It's probably just big enough for it to be called a city. The lack of taxis is most likely due to a lack of tourists and most people owning a car. SA reminds me a lot of the US/Canada with how car-centric it feels.

      Thanks for reading!
      • Comment 653237 by
        VM 12 Comments
        I flew with them on the return (that FR is coming soon) and yeah, I barely had time to finish everything with how short the flight was.

        Nice, I wish every flight had that problem.
        Oh really? That's not too surprising honestly with the crime rate (and how most places employ their own private security).

        Yep it seems like private security is the only real way to protect yourself there.
        The lack of taxis is most likely due to a lack of tourists and most people owning a car. SA reminds me a lot of the US/Canada with how car-centric it feels.

        True, which is surprising considering how it seems like carjacking is so common.
  • Comment 653286 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6858 Comments
    Hey Lia, thanks for another cool exotic report!

    Flying within SA seems to have remained somewhat reasonably priced despite less competition since the demise of Comair and some other carriers since the Pandemic.

    CemAir seem to receive mixed reviews, probably mostly because of on-time performance and general operational reliability, but when things go well, it seems like a decent service. A sandwich on a 1h flight is quite a pleasant surprise!

    although the general rule of never walking outside alone is pretty much true for most of South Africa.

    I loved SA, probably one of the most memorable trips of my life, but also one of the places I felt the most unsafe. Without getting into details I was held up at gun point for the first and only time in my life, and driving anywhere was an adventure that required a lot of research beforehand on safe parking locations. And I remember hotel staff always told us never to walk about in the streets on our own and to go through a red light (robot) if a group of people approached the car. Good advice as that definitely happened quite a bit. I think next time, I'll just fly from place to place rather than risk driving.

    Shame about the rolling blackouts, didn't experience that when I was there luckily.

    Thanks for sharing!

Login to post a comment.