As I have expressed many times before, Emirates is one of my all time favorite airlines, but I may have fallen a little in love with our very own national carrier, South African Airways, on my recent trip to São Paulo, Brazil.
It was such an amazing experience. I was not expecting this at all, especially after a rather disappointing flight to New York two years ago. I experienced top notch service on both of my business class flights, and was blown away by the total experience, especially the warm welcome I received upon arrival, once boarding the aircraft.
The 9 hours+ flight to Sao Paulo took place in the new Airbus A330-300 which has 46 business class seats. I loved that it is in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, offering increased privacy (which is great for solo travelers) and providing all Business Class passengers with direct access to the aisle.
The single window seats feel significantly more private, as you basically have your own cocoon. The storage area was located to the isle side of the seat, which also helped create a privacy partition of sorts. The seat has a power, as well as a USB outlet in the storage area. The LCD TV screen and noise-cancelling headphones with headphone jack, complete the package.
You also get a comfortable pillow, along with a mattress pad and comforter which makes sleeping on long-haul flights so much more pleasurable. Each seat is fitted with its own high-tech, 15” easy-to-use touchscreen LCD TV.
After enjoying a glass of bubbly, I browsed the entertainment selection. It was reasonably extensive. Although not as good as the ICE system on Emirates, it was certainly better than a lot of other systems out there. There were a variety of programming options, ranging from movies to TV to music.
20 minutes after my initial “welcoming” glass of bubbly was served, Pinky, one of the friendly crew members, came through to offer cutlery, a bread plate, a selection from the breadbasket, and more drinks. I switched to one of my favorite red wines, La Motte Millennium.
During my flight, I discovered that SAA’s team of celebrity chefs, Chef Reuben Riffel and Chef Benny Masekwameng, have creatively imagined and consistently executed a menu which competes with those of top restaurants in South Africa.
The entire offering is highly considered with perfectly sized portions. I enjoyed my business class meals on SAA more than that of Emirates to be honest.
After reading the Sawubona in-flight magazine, I discovered that the new Airbus A330 consists of composite materials which are corrosion-resistant, allowing for higher humidity levels and a lower cabin pressurization “altitude” during the flight. The air conditioning was regulated and not at some freezing low temperature. This explained why I noticed a difference in how I felt when I walked off the flight. I felt much more like a human being than the typical zombie-like state I’m in after long flights, my skin was not dehydrated and I was not as tired as with other international flights.
I was incredibly surprised and satisfied flying with South African Airways this time around. The service was wonderful and warm. The staff did everything with a smile, was so attentive, and seemed to enjoy their positions as ambassadors of the airline.
As you can see from the review, I fell a little in love with Fly SAA! If you’re interested in flying SAA Business Class, I would be happy to advise you on the best aircraft, routes and seats.
Simply get in touch with your plans, and I will help you book flights on some top international destinations with SAA.