Review: South African Airways A340-3, Cape Town – Johannesburg


Our Aeroplan Business Class Redemption had us breaking out journey on that ticket with a stop over in Johannesburg. Since most of the excitement (for us) in South Africa is down in Cape Town, we needed a short positioning flight to get down there. This segment is the return of that separate segment. We booked this ticket separately on the SAA website on the most commonly travelled domestic route in South Africa.

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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Review: South African Airways A340-3, Cape Town – Johannesburg

At about 45 minutes prior to our flight, we left the South African Airways Cyobab Lounge and headed down to the gate area. Today’s flight was being boarded via the bus gate area. As usual, we experienced the African boarding process and all it’s usual chaos. This is how a domestic Airbus 340-300 is loaded. Priority boarding line? Not today… Not even an announcement for Voyager Platinums or Star Alliance Gold’s.

Boarding South African Airways
South African Airways Crush for the Gate

On Board South African Airways A340-3 Short Haul Domestic:

South African Airways
Economy Class
CPT-JNB (Cape Town International – O.R Tambo Johannesburg International)
SA 223 – Economy Class (V)
2:10 PM – 4:10 PM
November 13, 2013
Booked: Boeing 340-300
Flown: Boeing 340-300

On board, we settled into a 2-4-2 economy configuration on today’s A340. It’s a pretty standard layout for the Airbus A340 and it’s nice to have 2 seats to yourself as compared to Boeing’s usual 3-3-3 (or 3-4-3) seats on the comparably sized Boeing 777 series.

The usual chaos of boarding : on Board SAA Airbus 340-3

The seats had a video entertainment system, but for some reason it was not turned on for the duration of the flight. Those attempting to game the system by choosing a better wide body aircraft over a narrow body for entertainment purposes on the Johannesburg to Cape Town route will be disappointed if this is any indication of the usual experience. 

A logo staring at you for all the flight

We had a nice smooth flight up to Johannesburg with pleasant views out the window.

Views of the Wing on the Way to JNB

The Meal: A Small Lunch Sandwich Snack

Again, reminiscent of flying 15 years ago, we were served a full lunch consisting of an aubergine pepper sandwich, complimentary wine service, moist toilettes and a toothpick.

An Aubergine Pepper Sandwich
Wine and a Toothpick

Arriving to OR Tambo International Airport:

On arrival to O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, we taxied to an international gate. Of course, in the organization of all things South African, there seems to be no interior corridor to take us to domestic arrivals. We were off loaded from the plane and immediately out the exit doors down onto the jetway onto the apron immediately below the plane. There were no buses available for some reason so we waited on the apron for 15 minutes for buses to arrive. It’s a bit unusual to have 250 passengers standing around on an apron, but guess it’s business as usual here.

Disembarkation at JNB
Hanging out on the apron with 250 of my new best friends
Ramp Views at JNB

We collected our checked bags before we transferred to the Hyatt Regency Johannesburg Rosebank via Guatrain for the night.

Headed for the Gautrain

In closing:

Our South African Airways domestic flight was another reasonable experience offering wine, food and a reasonable wide body aircraft ride for a domestic flight. It’s always a treat to fly a giant wide body Airbus 340 on a domestic flight and this route was no exception.

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