Now, 5 days before taking this flight, SAA sent me an e-mail offering me to use their upgrade bidding system along with a 10% discount (limited time availability). The minimum offer was of 35€ / pax.
First, I checked that the J cabin was empty, which seemed to be the case on BCD Travel.
So I decided to offer 35€ as a minimum.
The confirmation came soon after
When you go back to the page, you can see that your offer was indeed received
You can check it out by the "offer received" link
We were granted the upgrade for that price, then shortly thereafter, the process was cancelled simply because it seems there was not enough seats available or the flights was cancelled itself. Then we were reprotected to the SA555 with the upgrade bid to restart. The minimum price had changed to 40€/pax. I agreed doing another offer. Then this very SA555 got cancelled as well and we were reprotected to SA559, operated by an A330-200 with that same upgrade.
So in the end, we had more time to enjoy the lounge at JNB, a better aircraft to fly Business class in and that was it. 80€ for both of us was fair I think. Especially for priority boarding when I saw the queue !! The only issue was I had a transfer booked from DUR so I had to change twice my arrival flight but hopefully our driver (Peter Koen, owner of Extreme Nature Tours and Travel located in St Lucia) was incredibly friendly (I use this word on every FR, I know, but they are friendly !) and reliable.
So, as for our BPs, they were delivered in MQP : this class " C / U(pgrade) " does not seem to be eligible to earn any NZ Airpoints despite the C class being listed as a valid class in their terms and conditions.
As It was an A330-200 and not a -300, I knew it couldn't be the new cabins.
So we will go straight to the most interesting part airside : the lounge, located one level up after security. It is called South African Airways Via Platinum Lounge. It was newly refurbished. You'll find more information about it HERE
The welcome was warm, the staff committed into making sure everything was where it had to be, especially for the newpapers. There were many many chairs available to sit this day, being morning and the fact that SAA does not offer Business Class to a lot of domestic destinations. At the beggining, we were just the two of us in the lounge and at the peak we were 5 pax, literally nothing in such a big space.
Here are the views you get in front of the relaxing chairs
The toilets are individual and the flushing is electronically launched
There is even a shower available
The catering options are plethoric
Drinks are a bit limited though (sodas are available on a fridge under the pancake machine)
My selection (I've been too reasonable)
Boarding was scheduled gate C11 but was postponed by 20 minutes once we were there.
Hello Sierra X-ray Victor ! The aircraft is newer then what I thought : just 6 years old.
The cabin, in a 2-2-2 layout, was bright and spacious.
The IFE is stowed in the compartments in between the seats
The tray table is stowed inside the seat as well
Seat controls : simple to use and extensive. One thing to note however : you cannot put your seat on a relaxing position when eating. If you put your seat on a reclined position, your tray won't be right, it will tilt on the left or right hand side, depending which seat you're at.
Both the remote control and the power outlet were conveniently placed and worked.
The half leather half fabric seat covers have a typical African style that is I find pleasant to look at
Adjustable reading lights are placed at each seat. These seats, however, do not offer much privacy as there is no moving separation.
Stowage under the seat in front of me
A special stowage compartment for a nighttime water bottle
The seatback pocket content is out of reach when seated
In front of us, there was probably a kind of South African famous man living in Durban from Indian backgrounds I had never seen in my entire life. It was really funny being more interested by the A330 ! The safety card (revision number 13) is stowed inside
It was in a very good shape, probably placed there recently
Pushback time !
A French (Reunion Island) airline !
First time I see a Rwandair aircraft
Switzerland is here as well
An Egyptair A330
Dreamliner in sight !
We lined up runway 21R
… and lifted of shortly thereafter !
As the flight was/is really short, the crew had to be extremely fast to serve everyone. It was really difficult for them and they got out of this quite good. It does not really matter if they seemed in a rush and did not really have time to talk with us, the flight wasn't long enough for that. Closed
The main consisted of two slices of what seemed like pastrami, with another two slices of peppered cheese and two small feta dice, a potato/onions salad along with a slice of cucumber. The dessert was a tasty pear mousse I enjoyed (I am being subjective here, I adore pears)
The cutlery, in metal, was not SAA branded, however the glass was
I really loved the views we got of the Garden Province (I seated on this side on purpose of course) while approaching King Shaka airport's runway 24
Welkom to Durban ladies and gentlemen, beautiful heh ? Ranked as the 2016 fifthiest most dangerous city in the world, according to Business Insider^^ But we are not going to Durban, we will head straight to Mtubatuba, or near this town, on the banks of the Umfolozi River, in a Protea Hotel where things… did not really go as planned !
The airport terminal looks fairly recent from the outside (and the inside)
Here is a Comair BA 734 after landing, exiting the runway
We deplaned via jetbridge 15 minutes late, not too bad
The mood was however shattered as soon as the luggage carousel stopped delivering bags coming from our flight and my mother did not receive her !
We spent our time making the luggage inquiry (nice groundstaff) and met our guide 45 minutes after the scheduled time ! What an embarrassment for us ! Hopefully he was a great, great guy.
My bag did not have the priority tag as It was tagged in MQP where the first flight was in Economy.
To the credit of SAA : they delivered us the bag in the aforementioned Protea Hotel, 2hrs away from Durban, which was very nice from them.
The 100 USD/day compensation for Business class passengers probably encouraged them being quick !
The only thing I did not understand is that they searched for the bag with my visual description but did not look at the small tag on it (it had lost the big one on the different carousels probably) where the name and bag number were still there, so that is a weird process^^
I guess we were very lucky to get the bag back ! So… kudos SAA !
Afficher la suite
South African Airways VIA Lounge (domestic)
Johannesburg - JNB
Durban - DUR
Despite the delay and the lost luggage they did find, I think SAA offered us a nice product with that upgrade bid and I do not regret any minute bidding on this.
The crew did as they could in a minimum time, the cabin was definitely comfortable for such a short journey and the catering, well, was adapted to the flight time.
The lounge was a highlight of our stay in JNB which, I think I've been clear on that point, is far from being my favourite airport ! I'd have to say Durban airport may not be better organized, it is however brighter, newer and the staff there is amazing.
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