Review of South African flight Johannesburg Cape Town in Economy

Airline South African
Flight SA359
Class Economy
Seat --
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 02:10
Take-off 25 Feb 15, 17:45
Arrival at 25 Feb 15, 19:55
SA   #60 out of 133 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 54 reviews
pwecar
By 2541
Published on 5th March 2015
Here's the second part of my holiday with SAA.

For other legs you can find them here:

SA287 HKG-JNB A343 [http://flight-report.com/en/report-9566.html]
SA359 JNB-CPT B738 [This Report]
SA334 CPT-JNB A346 [http://flight-report.com/en/report-9625.html]
SA286 JNB-HKG A346 [http://flight-report.com/en/report-10136.html]

After spending two days visiting the attractions near Joburg, we headed for the next stop in SA: Cape Town.
We enjoyed a wonderful grill with the company of jet blasts..
photo IMG_7097

Including this stunning beauty, Qatar Airways B788:
photo IMG_7100

Sadly this was the only widebody arriving on the time we had lunch, since most widebodies arrive in morning.
photo IMG_7104photo IMG_7105

We then shopped in an nearby mall till 90 minutes before the departure time.
This is the domestic arrival hall in OR Tambo:
photo IMG_19700102_080303

And the check-in hall.
photo IMG_7108

No one was waiting on the bag drop counters apart from a ground staff giving out free papers to passengers.
photo IMG_19700102_082009

Domestic departures FID.
photo IMG_7109

For South African domestic flights you can bring your own liquid aboard, which might be a factor on speedy security..It was really quick.
Pictures on airside:
photo IMG_7110

There are Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the airport yet you need to register(too complicated!) for just 30min/50MB. Nor there are many commercials in the terminal, mostly restaurants.
photo IMG_19700102_083615

We would be leaving at gate D5.
photo IMG_7115

Many information boards were installed.
photo IMG_7116

OR Tambo isn't a photo-friendly airport for certain.
photo IMG_7111

Our ride today, ZS-SJB, a 14-year-old B738. SAA is actually phasing out their B738s, replacing them with A320 series. That makes SAA an all-Airbus airline. (Bad news for our copilot..)
photo IMG_7113photo IMG_7114

Our neighbor, another B738.
photo IMG_7117

Classic shot
photo IMG_7118

When boarding, there were several thunderstorms approaching the airport. All the operations were paused and landing flights were holding. An SAA A346 even performed a touch-and-go on the runway.
photo IMG_7120

The pitch was bearable for a two hour flight. You can really feel the age of the plane:


This cover appeared to be missing..
photo IMG_19700102_100155

Miraculously the pilots still managed to keep our flight leaving on-time. By the time we pushed back the runway directions were changed from 03 to 21. That gave us a good aerial view on Joburg center.
photo IMG_7121photo IMG_7122

An Air Namibia ERJ135.
photo IMG_7124

Sad face: a BA B744 was written-off due to a collision on JNB ground.
photo IMG_7125

Look at the impressive lineup of the giants!
photo IMG_7128photo IMG_7132

Some more photos in JNB.
photo IMG_7134photo IMG_7135

Joburg downtown in distance.
photo IMG_7136

Catering services commenced as soon as the pilots leveled the plane.
Two options were available: fish with mashed potato..
photo IMG_19700102_101602

which was a bit of tasteless..
And for the second option: beef with rice:
photo IMG_19700102_102713
9/10 for the beef, 1/10 for the almost uncooked rice and beans.

Yet it wasn't the worst part: the salad(or appetizer?) was really inedible..

On this flight we tried some booze, all for free even on domestic flights.
There were 3 different wines, all from South Africa.
photo IMG_19700102_102016
Since I'm not good at wine tasting I have no comments on them.

The lavatory was clean and tidy.
photo IMG_19700102_103840

Soon we were approaching. For some reasons I was feeling incredibly bad on my ears during this decent. It wasn't getting better even when we disembark..
Atlantic in sight.
photo IMG_7150

Moments before touchdown: Table Mountain was covered by mysterious clouds.
photo IMG_7158

The International section of the terminal. Three LHR-bound flights were waiting..
photo IMG_7169

And one BA B744 was pushing back.
photo IMG_7172

This is the 'Business Class' section. Configured in a 2-3 layout, there isn't any 'significant' difference with Y seats. Moreover the cabins were divided by a tiny soft curtain so no extra privacy either.
photo IMG_7174

A South African Air Force B738 was in the apron.
photo IMG_7175

Though the baggage were soon on the belt our group was interrogated by a trouble-making local police. We wasted more than half an hour waiting for some nonsense inspections. That's not the way to welcome your guests, Cape Town!
photo IMG_7176

It's such a shame that this flight ends unpleasantly.
Stay tuned for next!
See more

Verdict

South African

6.3/10
Cabin6.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering5.5

Johannesburg - JNB

8.2/10
Efficiency10.0
Access8.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness8.0

Cape Town - CPT

6.0/10
Efficiency0.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

For conclusion, the hardware and catering on SAA didn't match the friendly crew members.
Thumbs up for the high efficiency in JNB. Various selections on restaurants are more important that shops for domestic terminal.
CPT is fresh and modern yet the ridiculous police blew out our good impressions.

Information on the route Johannesburg (JNB) Cape Town (CPT)

10 Comments

  • Comment 131137 by
    padawan 1448 Comments

    Choice of 2 hot meals on a domestic flight is nice. Such a shame it did not meet your expectations...
    The clouds on Table Mountain are its tablecloth ^^
    What was the police looking for ?
    Thank you for this FR !

    • Comment 311953 by
      pwecar AUTHOR 53 Comments

      Tablecloth doesn't appear every day..We were so fortunate to witness the magic on the following day:)
      Since they only asked our tour leader for questions I couldn't figure out the reason he stopped us.:(
      He just checked our documents, made some calls and let us go 30 minutes later..
      The incident started when someone in our group asked him where the restroom was. He didn't point out the way but began to query us instead.

  • Comment 131140 by
    Mathieu 2111 Comments

    Hi,

    Thank you for this report.

    Nice spotting at JNB.

    This 737 is very old, but the seats seem to be confortable.

    I'm very surprised about the catering, it is quite exceptional on a domestic flight !

    Thank you,

    • Comment 311977 by
      pwecar AUTHOR 53 Comments

      Though having a wide range of beverages to choose and the portions were OK, both main courses were not delicious while the appetizer was definitely inedible. Thus the rating on catering.

      Well, I admit, that these not-so-good hot meals are million times better than nothing or cold snacks.

    • Comment 311982 by
      pwecar AUTHOR 53 Comments

      I was on an A346 when returning from CPT to JNB which I will be sharing on my next report:)
      The similar seats also appears on JL domestic narrowbodies. Nevertheless on AY&SK you even don't get that extra width but an ordinary Y seat.

    • Comment 312045 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4904 Comments

      Great! The domestic A346 will make for a cool report. Didn't know domestic JL narrowbodies had this 2-3 config in business. Not only AY and SK, but most European airlines just use regular Y seats for short-haul Business class, although at least, most of them block off the middle seat.

    • Comment 312046 by
      pwecar AUTHOR 53 Comments

      I mean on AY&SK they even don't block off the middle seat..So there isn't any difference with Y class seats.

  • Comment 131148 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4904 Comments

    Although the food was not great, it's nice to see a hot meal on a domestic flight. I believe SA flies some widebodies between JNB and CPT which would make for an even nicer experience between these two major South African cities. I find the 2-3 configuration in Business class odd on SA narrowbodies. I would not want to pay Business class and have the possibility of getting stuck in a middle seat that is barely wider than a regular Y seat. Thanks for sharing this report!

  • Comment 131816 by
    Chibcha 425 Comments

    Those 737s sure look like they've got their fair amount of use!

    The catering looks disappointing its a shame it ruins the perk of having free meals in a domestic flight.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 160557 by
    MrMax 144 Comments

    Thanks for a great FR from SAAs good ol days (I am South African and I'm nostalgic about the times when you got a meal on SAA JNB-CPT flights. Now it's just cranberries)

    The service has really deteriorated (as mentioned before). I recently flew w/ SAA CPT-JNB. You used to get a free meal, now you only get peanuts. Their other domestic service has also been terrible nowadays. SAA has been mismaneged by the government owners recently. A lot of infrastructure in South Africa is government owned. The government gives itself a monopoly on some buisnesses and then mismanages them (ex. Eskom the power supplier is now causing power outages because they are mismaneged by government owners, and have a monopoly). The resault of this is is bad infrastructure (and the knock-on effect of that is that SAA service has deteriorated).

    -Max

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