THE FLIGHT: Flight SA235 from London Heathrow to Johannesburg. Departing London at 19.00, we arrived in Johannesburg at 07.30 the following morning (+2 hours). This was the inaugural flight out of the UK on one of the airline’s five new A330-300 aircraft. On April 20, SAA will cut its Heathrow- Johannesburg service from two daily flights to one, but the number of business class seats will remain almost the same.
PRE-BOARDING: Check-in was seamless. It was a Sunday evening and Terminal 2 was busy, but SAA’s Business check-in desk was quiet. Passengers have a choice of Star Alliance lounges. I headed to the United/Star Alliance lounge. I have been here before and have always been impressed by the choice of hot and cold food on offer.
THE SEAT: I was in 7K, a window seat. All business class seats are forward-facing with aisle access in a 1-2-1 configuration. There is a doubleseat belt – one across the waist, one diagonally across the chest, which I had not seen before and seemed to confuse a few passengers. The 15-inch highdefinition touchscreen was impressive, and I liked the generous space on my right side and the storage space behind me. The seat turned into a lie-flat bed that extended almost two metres long and, with padded seat covers, felt ultracomfortable. The space had its own power portal and USB port. The RAVE inflight entertainment system powered by Zodiac, features over 100 movies. There is no wifi onboard, but users can stream extra content to their personal devices, via an app, before their flight.
THE SERVICE: Before take-off I was offered sparkling wine, orange juice or water and a scorching-hot towel. I enjoyed the dinner of salad, soup and a seafood trio of shrimp, scallops and cod – eventually! I had the suspicion that I had been overlooked but the head steward apologised and we laughed it off together – over an extra glass of bubbly.
THE VERDICT: The A330-300 is an extremely quiet aircraft. It looked and smelt spanking new and the business seat and space was extremely spacious. Moreover, there is comfort to be had knowing you are flying on a state-of the art piece of kit. A few more smiles from the crew would have been welcome.
THE DETAILS: Business class flights start from £3,469.91 return, inclusive of taxes. flysaa.com.
Reviewed by Steve Hartridge (2018)