South African Airways (SAA) Business Class is very impressive, take advantage of it if you fly often and your destination is on their route. I have been flying SAA almost a decade now and have finally decided to review their classy and serene business class experience which always epitomizes the South African greeting Wamukelekile, which means welcome.
Of course, this is not the first time I’m writing about SAA, however, this March 2020 piece is coming about as a result of all the questions I receive about my SAA business class experiences from friends and family. So I figured I’d put it all out here for them and the other curious minds interested to learn about Africa’s excellent business class experience provider in the air.
For those of you who fly business on SAA, you know the drill about their multi-award-winning story, to you I say keep the loyalty alive. For those who don’t, I encourage you to give them a shot, the Star Alliance carrier is worth it. They are even willing to meet you halfway with their ‘Step Up to Business Class‘ program if you can make them an offer.
So, I arrived at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC early for my flight on March 9, 2020 per usual, after checking-in with their amazing counter crew, I headed down to catch the underground train to their business class lounge to kill some time while waiting for my flight to Accra in Ghana. Don’t be alarmed, this is an internal train provided by the Dulles Airport because SAA flights depart from Terminal B, plus it’s a quick and easy train ride from the main terminal that could be walked.
That day was not a good day to walk to the terminal, I was in a bit of a hurry to get a little work done before my flight, so time was of the essence, as a result, I headed straight for the train after I was issued my boarding pass. Anyway, my 55,000 miles transatlantic flight from Washington DC to Accra, Ghana was a mix of business and pleasure for me. I was first and foremost seeing family and then having a couple of business meetings. I was in Ghana for just 6 days.
Yes, you could check-in online, but I’m either too old school when it comes to that or I kind of enjoy the whole in-person experience so I always check-in at the airport. I breezed through airport security and before long I was taking a walk towards Terminal B after getting off the escalators towards my gate which was B37.
I didn’t stop to eat even though I was a little hungry and there were loads of places to grab a quick bite. This was because I wanted to send a few quick emails before I went airborne.
But do not be like me please, stop and eat if you have to once on the terminal especially if you have a couple of hours or one to wait for your flight. If you have time to kill as a business class passenger then lounge a little buddy. Your ticket gives you access to a premium bar with an exquisite variety of food. So don’t be like me and wallow in work thanks to the Wi-Fi you.
In-flight business class adventure
My Wamukelekile experience began with the announcement that it was time for business class passengers to board — there’s a different gate for biz class by the way. As I hurriedly got aboard, I realize my stomach constantly reminding me of how hungry I am. But I smiled in my head as I know I am about to beat this hunger with a cream of mushroom soup which is to date my favorite appetizer above 10k feet.
Of course, the drinks were first served and for a dude like myself with a teetotal lifestyle — I was more interested in the juices and water. But don’t be disappointed, they have some of the coolest selection of continental and vintage South African wines to go with their great choice of cuisine and snacks as well as deserts.
While I gently downed my cream of mushroom soup with soft sips of water, I invited Brad Pitt to keep me company as I stretched to journey with him via Ad Astra, a sci-fi movie he co-produced and was the main character of — there were other equally interesting flicks to choose from but Brad accompanied me as the plane pilot gave the green light to remove the seat belt. It felt great to stretch that day with all the legroom business class offers.
Alas, the main course arrived, and I paused Ad Astra so I go beast-mode and add victuals from my seat 2K which was also a window seating. The menu is designed by Chef Coco, Chef Song, and Chef Siba Mtongana who are top chefs in South Africa. They take care of vegetarians and people with special dietary needs including children.
So, the main course on my flight’s menu comprised of the leg of lamb slowly braised, second on the menu was brioche stuffed chicken supreme, third was grilled prawn brochette, and last but not least — garganelli pasta. There was also a cheese plate, great desserts, and a breadbasket. I went with option two, it came with green asparagus, some thyme, steamed cauliflower, and baby carrots — the chicken itself was delectable.
A pretty neat experience if you ask
Business class on SAA is a great experience, and very affordable too. If you plan well for it you could easily experience it. The crew are always super-friendly and also very helpful. They will get you seconds and thirds or extra whatever you want if it’s within their capacity. Don’t be afraid to ask about your flatbed seat’s functionalities although I must say they are pretty easy to use and adjust.
I only wish there were a bit more Afro-centric [the meal options are subject to change] cuisines and that I didn’t have to fly through the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. But even then SAA since March 20, 2020 suspended all international flights until May 31, 2020 in response to a travel ban by the South African government, a move I think is very awesome and exemplary by the way.
So there you have it, folks, this was just a snapshot of what my business class experience was like, but for more details contact SAA by visiting their website at www.flysaa.com and thanks guys for making my 1 week trip to Ghana a blast. Let’s do this again soon and thanks for being Africa’s favorite airlines!
Written by Oral Ofori