Review: South African Airways Business Class A340-3, Dakar – Johannesburg
South African Airways offers long haul services from 10 locations around the world in Asia, South American, North America and South America. This is the continuation of our flight on South African Airways Washington Dulles – Dakar, and our technical stop in Dakar, Senegal. The flight is typically sold as one direct segment.
This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, a Safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Mauritius. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
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Read More from This Trip
- Trip Introduction: South Africa, Kenya & Mauritius via South African Airways, Swiss and Air Canada Business Class
- Vancouver Airport Transborder Maple Leaf Lounge
- United Business Vancouver – Chicago O’Hare
- United Club Chicago O’Hare – Concourse B
- United Club Chicago O’Hare – Concourse C
- United Business First Chicago O’Hare – Sao Paolo International
- Intercontinental Chicago O’Hare
- United Business Chicago O’Hare – Washington Dulles International
- Lufthansa Senator Lounge – Washington Dulles
- South African Airways Business Class Washington Dulles – Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport Dakar
- Dakar Technical Stopover
- South African Airways Business Class Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport Dakar – O.R. Tambo Johannesburg International Airport
- South African Airways Baobab Lounge – O.R Tambo Johannesburg Terminal A Domestic
- South African Airways Economy Class O.R. Tambo Johannesburg – Cape Town international
- Westin Cape Town
- A Visit to Robben Island: South Africa’s Most Famous Jail
- Exploring Table Mountain by Cable Car, Cape Town
- Where the Two Oceans Meet: Visiting Cape Point at Cape of Good Hope
- The Test Kitchen
- Le Quartier Français – Franschhoek
- Touring Western Cape Winelands in Stellenbosch and Franschoek
- The Tasting Room
- South African Airways – Cape Town Cyobab Domestic Lounge
- South African Airways Economy Class – Cape Town – O.R. Tambo Johannesburg
- Hyatt Regency Rosebank Johannesburg
- Soweto & Informal Settlement Tour
- SAA Baobab Premium Lounge – OR Tambo Johannesburg
- South African Airways Business Class O.R. Tambo Johannesburg – Mauritius
- St Regis Mauritius – A Beachfront Suite
- St Regis Mauritius – Le Morne Penninsula, Iridium Spa and The House Reef
- Air Maurituis Amédée Maingard Lounge
- South African Airways Business Class Mauritius – O.R. Tambo Johannesburg
- South African Airways Business Class O.R. Tambo Johannesburg – Jomo Kennyata Nairobi, Kenya
- Fairmont Norfolk, Nairobi
- Travelling the Gritty Streets of Nairobi, Kenya
- Air Kenya – Wilson Airport – Ngrende Airstrip
- Fairmont Mara Safari Club
- Locating Elephants, Rhino’s and Giraffes in the Maasai Mara, Kenya
- Being Surrounded by Lions in the Maasai Mara, Kenya
- Dancing with the Elders at a Maasai Mara Village in the Rift Valley, Kenya
- Air Kenya Ngrende Airstrip – Nairobi Wilson
- Swiss Air Business Nairobi – Zurich
- Swiss Air Arrivals Lounge – Zurich
- Swiss Air Concourse D Lounge (non Shengen) Zurich
- Swiss Air Business Zurich – London Heathrow Terminal 1
- Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge – London Heathrow Terminal 3
- Air Canada / SAS Lounge – Heathrow Terminal 3
- Air Canada London Heathrow – Vancouver International
Review: South African Airways Business Class A340-3, Dakar Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport – OR Tambo International Airport Johannesburg, South Africa
Leaving Dakar Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport, we departed our technical stop 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
On Board South African Airways Business Class:
For those that are just joining us, we were seated in the same seats as on the outbound segment from Washington Dulles to Dakar. The seats were spacious, comfortable and exceptionally roomy.
South African Airways
DAK-JNB (Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport Dakar, Senegal – O.R. Tambo Johannesburg International)
SA 208 – Business Class (D)
7:25 AM – 5:50 PM
November 6, 2013
Booked: Airbus 340-300E
Flown: Airbus 340-300E
It was an absolutely beautiful take off this morning with some great scenery to look at, taking off on runway 36 in a North Westerly direction over what looked to be a gorgeous beach and gorgeous fishing.
In one of the more unusual flight introduction announcements, the lead flight attendant announced that sleeping on floor is prohibited. This was another first for me. I had some opportunity to read the SAA in flight magazine Sawubona. I usually flip to the technical details in the back since it’s the most interesting part. I saw this notice in the safety instructions. Had a quick chuckle about it but it was all explained later in the trip when we were to go on our Soweto tour and visit of an informal settlement (slum).
The Meal: A Full Breakfast
The crew started the breakfast service immediately after take off. We were offered a coffee service , which was startlingly “instant” tasting.
We started off with the sliced seasonal fresh fruit, which was served with cereal and a roll.
For the main even, I went with the Caramelized Peach and Mascarpone French Toast (I wasn’t going anywhere near the goat cheese and leek strata).
After the not so spectacular coffee, I finished off breakfast with the better option of a glass of Taitinger champagne.
The cabin was kept dark with shades drawn despite it being bright daylight outside. Most of the passengers slept, as it was late night on Washington time. I crashed out for a few hours.
The In Flight Entertainment:
Over the course of the long haul flights, I played with the In Flight Entertainment system. It was a bit dated and had to be navigated using a combination of the remote and the touch screen. This was not immediately apparent when you first picked up the controllers. It’s a good thing that we had 15 hours to fiddle with it. The map function was broken or inoperative – it displayed flight statistics but no map.
The Second Meal Service: Lunch
About 2.5 hours flight time from Johannesburg, they started the lunch service, which was actually at about 3 PM local time. This was the third meal service we’d had on our journey since we had departed Washington Dulles. The catering was not exactly to the menu, but was similar in that they had 1 beef, 1 chicken, 1 fish and one pasta option.
We started off with the un named amuse bouche…
I coontinued on with the smoked duck breast starter…
There were a lot of meat eaters on thus flight as I had the grilled chicken breast, as again, they had run out of beef tenderloin.
Lastly, I finished off desert with the chocolate mouse with pineapple coulis. I had to go with another glass of Taitinger champagne to finish an otherwise arduous journey.
We eventually touched down at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, ending our 16 hour long haul journey direct from the United States to South Africa.
Baggage Chandling at Johannesburg Airport:
We arrived to O.R Tambo Johannesburg Airport. I had read about baggage mishandling and theft from the Johannesburg Airport but looking out the airplane window, the baggage handlers were creating new world records for carelessness with the bags.
I’m not trying to be overly critical, but I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere I’ve been.
With 250 other of my new best friends on the Airbus 340, we got off the plane and made a mad dash for the South African immigration line. It seems that the SAA Beijing – Johannesburg flight was arriving at the same time so we all crushed together in a long serpentine queue waiting for entry stamps. SAA does not issue Fast Track cards for international arrivals at SAA and the immigration officers seem to like to chit chat here about nothing relevant to the immigration process. It took twenty minutes for us to make it through. Make note that this is not a fast process if you’re rushing for the last airport train to downtown.
Our Checked Baggage? Missing in Action
I made the seventh and final inquiry with the SAA baggage desk in the secure side of the airport. As expected, even though I had a slight glimmer of hope, my checked bag did not turn up. I was told to expect it within 120 hours at the maximum but more likely within 2 – 3 days. I became convinced then having seen the issues with the recovery of the bags and the ones littered over the apron, that there were two kinds of bags – “checked” and “lost”.
My Final Thoughts on South African Airways Long Haul Business Class:
Overall I was highly impressed with South African Airways Long Haul Business Class. I was not expecting too much. The hard product was far better than what I expected and even included features that you’d expect in First – mattress pads, large thick duvet’s and personal space that rivals true First on some carriers. When they say that First class is being reduced globally with business class getting better and better, that actually applies in this case. As a result, I’d highly recommend using SAA Long Haul Business for your travels to SA.
It seems they release reward space between 300-360 days or within 7 days in some cases. At the time of writing, I’ve found lots of last minute availability from South America and Asia to South Africa, which might make a good connection point if you’re looking to try this out. It seems that they don’t make last minute space on all routes so it’s a bit of a dice roll as to whether you’ll get lucky.