South African Airways Regional Business Class Review Nairobi (NBO) to Johannesburg (JNB) A320

Posted on March 16, 2015 by in Airline Reviews

Book your flight on South African Airways here.

I had initially booked an economy class flight with Ethiopian Airlines from Nairobi to Dakar, Senegal. This was just 17,500 United MileagePlus miles and $52 – great value for 12 hours in the air!

Of course my booked flight got cancelled two weeks prior and United sent me an email about an automated re-booking. I liked the re-booked option and did not do much about it until a week before departure; I opened up my booking on United.com and the last segment was gone. I called United and they saw the same thing. They conferenced in Ethiopian Airlines and to my surprise, I wasn’t re-booked – somehow the airlines managed to not communicate with each other and I was now waitlisted as person number 10 on a flight that was already seemingly oversold. Ethiopian Airlines only has one flight a day to Dakar (via Mali).

I called back to see if I had cleared the waitlist, but 48 hours before departure, it hadn’t moved. I decided to change to an option with South Africa Airways via Johannesburg (as United allows free changes when a major schedule change occurs). South African is in big trouble financially, but they keep flying for now.

The A340s from Johannesburg to Dakar are in a proper international configuration, since they are the birds continuing to New York and Washington DC. They come in a lie-flat configuration. I tested the product some time ago for the short Jo’burg to Capetown flight and liked the experience.

When I checked in at Nairobi, everything was easygoing (I was worried that my e-visa application for Senegal hadn’t cleared and I would be prevented from checking in) but nobody even looked at it at check-in.

South African has no lounge access for business class passengers in Nairobi – whoops! Instead, you can get a full breakfast at an airport restaurant called Haima. The cuisine offered look horrible though, so I skipped that option. That also meant no WiFi and no comfy seats (Nairobi Airport is crazy-crowded at times).

Luckily the A320 was ready early, so we set off ahead of time. Nairobi is a poor airport, but at least it does not have too many delays since so few planes make it out there and the Kenyan weather is usually clear for flying.

The enormous business class cabin with 2×2 seats just had 4 passengers besides me.

The food served was pretty bad – edible if you haven’t eaten in weeks, but nothing to really enjoy eating. The coffee was equally bad.

The seat, however, was like a domestic first class seat with a bit more legroom. For a daytime flight it was quite comfy!

The flight proceeded without any issues. When connecting internationally in Johannesburg, you have to go through South African Immigration – I simply asked why this procedure is necessary and the immigration agent just gave me a snide comment back…

So far so good, but now my problems with South African Airways had just started. See what happened next!


Book your flight on South African Airways here.

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2.5 / 5 stars