Review: South African Airways Business Class A320-2, Mauritius – Johannesburg

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South African Airways offers medium haul services from Mauritius to Johannesburg, connecting the island nation to the continent of Africa. British Airways’ South African franchise also offers service on this same route four days a week on much older B737 aircraft. Like on our trip out, today’s experience was on SAA’s newest aircraft and offered a really pleasant way to get to Mauritius.


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 Business Class A320-2, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, Mauritius – O.R. Tambo International Airport Johannesburg, South Africa.

This flight described the South African Airways Business Class service from Mauritius to Johannesburg. Please see this report for our inbound trip on South African Airways Johannesburg to Mauritius.

After leaving the excellent Air Mauritius Business Lounge, we headed over to find Gate 19. Passing by the flight boards, it’s a real eclectic mix of flights departing from Mauritius around the Indian Ocean sector.

I’d probably fly to anywhere on that board in a heartbeat
South African Airways
Business Class
MRU – JNB (Mauritius – O.R Tambo Johannesburg International)
SA 191 – Business Class (I)
4:45 PM – 7:15 PM
November 20, 2013
Booked: Boeing 737-300
Flown: Airbus 320-200

We eventually found our gate and our plane parked at it. The green mountains close to the airport sure make for an inspirational place to wait for a flight.

South African Airways A320-2 against a mountain backdrop

At the gate, boarding today was through two lanes, but via only one jet bridge.

SAA Priority Boarding from Gate 19

On Board South African Airways Business Class:

We eventually were called to board and found ourselves in the usual 2-2 configuration on the new Airbus 320-2 for South African Airways. We found our usual seats 3A and 3C without incident. I was happy to see that we were again with the new equipment type that we had on route over to MRU.

We had a stretcher version of business class with six full rows of business class on offer. The load was 22/24 full today, served by two crew.

SAA Airbus 320-2 Business Class
Pleasant modern looking cabin; from Row 3

The branding extended to a rawhide style of stitching on the head rest.

SAA logo’ed headrests

Our ground crew quickly buttoned up the plane. The views over the wing while we waited to depart were of an Emirates B777-300 at the neighbouring gate.

Emirates B777-3; the Middle East way to get to and from Mauritius

Pre-Departure Beverage Service:

A pre-departure beverage was offered, in addition to the usual insecticide spraying of the cabin. I covered my glass for once to avoid any unwanted chemicals. . . I have to say that South African does the glassware right. These stylish glasses look great, set the mood and are much better than the throw away plastic highball cups I get from United Airlines.

Pre-Departure Beverage: Cap Classique Sparkling

As we started to taxi to the departure runway, we got an opportunity to look around. It’s always a treat to see other airplanes that you don’t normally get to see at your home airport. Today’s viewing included the not often seen Air Austral’s sole ATR-72 in its fleet and also an Airbus 340 flying for the flag carrier of Mauritius: Air Mauritius.

Air Austral’s only ATR-72
Air Mauritius Airbus 340 in the hangar at MRU

We had an absolutely spectacular view of the reefs around Mauritius as we departed and climbed to altitude. It’s not every day that you get a few like this on a climb out of an airport.

Gorgeous Reef Views on Climb to Altitude

The Meal: A Full Dinner

While we were on the ground, the menus were distributed. There was no Reubens celebrity chef on offer this time, but I happened to see that the air catering departing Mauritius was by Oberoi Hotels according to the truck along side the aircraft.

SA 191 Dinner Menu

The wine list contained the same wines as on our international segments and included Taittinger Champagne. A recycled photograph from earlier this month.

SAA Business Class Wine Card – Whites
SAA Business Class Wine Card – Reds

An “canapé” was offered once we had reached a safe altitude, starting tonights dinner service.

SAA Canape’s

I went with the Lemon and Herb Grilled Scallops with Citrus Salad and Saffron Mayonnaise as a starter.

Lemon and Herb Grilled Scallops, Citrus Salad and Saffron Mayonnaise,

For the main course, I went with the Roast Beef fillet with gratin dauphinoise, charred peppers and zucchini and pink pepper sauce. It was a better cut than was on offer at the St Regis Mauritius restaurants surprisingly, however it was a bit overcooked for my liking and not red at all. 

Roast Beef fillet with gratin dauphinoise, charred peppers, zucchini and pink pepper sauce

I finished with Chocolate and Mint Cheesecake dessert. This was much better than the usual squash-able cake typically served on airplanes and was tasty and sweet.

Chocolate and Mint Cheesecake

If that wasn’t enough, they passed out Kit Kat chocolate bars to finish. I enjoyed this while looking at the South African Airways route map, which covers an unusual part of the aviation world.

Kit Kats and an SAA Route Map

While we cruised at altitude, we enjoyed some interesting over the wing views of the volcanoes on the island of Reunion on the way over to Johannesburg.

Volacnoes peeking through clouds

The In Flight Entertainment:

As with on our way out, there was no video monitors in the seats, just the blank iPad holding location with no iPad. The movie again on the overhead monitor was Shanghai Calling– same as on the way out. 

Entertainment by overhead screens

The flight drew to a close pretty quickly.

We had a smooth landing back in Johannesburg and we arrived to a non gate position. There was a slight delay off loading the plane as there were no busses immediately available so ground staff delayed de-boarding. 

While we completed the disembarkation process, we had a nother 25 minute wait in the Immigration line while the passports were stamped. Again there was no fast track voucher on offer or fast track line available. A definite area of improvement for SAA if they are looking to improve things.

We passed by the uniquely advertised KFC in the O.R. Tambo Airport which is encouraging the “new economy” to purchase meals at their outlets. I had to snap a photo since the advertising campaign is so unique to this part of the world. 

Add Hope

My Final Thoughts on South African Airways Medium Haul Business Class:

Overall the “regional” service as SAA describes it’s medium haul service today was another pleasant and nicely appointed flight. There were full meals were served and the wines were identical to the SAA long haul routes, which were a nice touch. The only real disadvantage was the lack of AVOD, which we didn’t miss all too much. Overall, I would easily fly them again.


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