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Review: SAA business class from London to Johannesburg (and back) – Part 2

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This is part two of my review of the South African Airways business class service between London and Johannesburg focusing on the food.

Part one which looks at South African’s A330-300 business class cabin and my seat is here.

As a reminder, South African Airways gave us a free return trip to try out the brand new A330-300 aircraft.  This has an improved Business Class seat and is now operating SAA’s daily London to Johannesburg flight.  HFP paid its own hotel and other expenses.

Food and Drink

We were offered a welcome drink before take off, both outbound and inbound. The choices were either orange juice or South African sparkling white wine (Laborie Brut which retails at £7).

Food outbound:

Shortly after take off we were served canapes and drinks. I enjoyed the Laborie Brut, so I had another glass. There were also two different red wines and white wines as well as three different beers and the usual gin, whisky, rum and soft drinks.

South African Airways SAA business London to Johannesburg

Next was a choice of a starter. I had the tomato soup with garlic bread. The other options were Beef Bresaola or a seasonal salad.

As you can see, everything was nicely plated albeit served on a large tray.  This was removed before dessert was served.

South African Airways SAA business London to Johannesburg

The main course choices were seared beef filet, roasted chicken supreme, seafood trio and aubergine stew.  I chose the seafood trio which turned out to be just one kind of fish: salmon. It was very good though.

South African Airways SAA business London to Johannesburg

For dessert I chose cheese with crackers. I was offered a port wine but chose some water instead.  In general I thought that this was a good quality light meal which was a sensible choice given that most people would be trying to sleep immediately after eating.

South African Airways SAA business London to Johannesburg

Before going to sleep I was asked to fill out a piece of paper with the breakfast options for the next morning.  I chose natural yogurt and fruit with a croissant and muffin. The coffee was ok by aircraft standards.

South African Airways SAA business London to Johannesburg

Food inbound:

The canape selection was different to the one from the outbound flight.  Whilst this is only a small thing, it does make a difference as the same food would have been a bit boring.

South African Airways SAA business London to Johannesburg

I chose the soup of the day as my starter which was a mixed vegetable soup. The other options were smoked salmon with trout pate or a seasonal salad.  Again, whilst the return flight departs at the same time of day (early evening) as the outbound flight, SAA had changed the options to ensure that you got some variety.

South African Airways SAA business London to Johannesburg

The main course options were pan fried beef fillet, lemon and olive herbed buttered chicken breast, herbed pancake stuffed with spinach and roasted Norwegian salmon. I chose the latter. It was good but the fish was a little bit dry.

South African Airways SAA business London to Johannesburg

Dessert was ice cream and/or a cheese plate.

South African Airways SAA business London to Johannesburg

My breakfast the next morning was pretty much the same as on the outbound flight. This time I wasn’t asked to order my food in advance.

South African Airways SAA business London to Johannesburg

Overall the food worked well and was well up to the standard you would expect from a major international carrier in business class.

And I made a video …..

I edited a few clips into a short video of the new A330-300 South African Airways Business Class product. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel via this page – this is the same link to visit if the video does not automatically appear below.


I had two good flights to Johannesburg and back. South African Airways has a sound new business product with a good sized, comfortable fully flat seat.

Except for the dry salmon on the inbound flight the food was very good and so was the drink selection. It was also great to have two different food menus on the inbound and outbound flight. The cabin crew made me feel welcome and was very attentive throughout the whole flight.

With the 1-2-1 seating configuration also offering lots of privacy, the whole package works well and I recommend them for your next flight to South Africa and the wider region.

There are two more articles still to come.  Tomorrow I will take a look at the SAA flagship lounge in Johannesburg, and next weekend I will share my thoughts on the InterContinental Sandton Towers hotel.

Comments (14)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Susan says:

    Garlic bread seems an unfortunate airline offering in an enclosed space for 12 hours. Likewise (not here) asparagus.

    • Nick (not Arrogant Nick aka “The Original Nick”) says:

      Susan – Air change rates typically result in the cabin air being changed every two to three minutes which is why unpleasant odours fortunately don’t tend to linger. Many airlines serve both garlic bread and asparagus and I have never noticed a problem with smell from either on an aircraft.

  • Paul says:

    Food looks good but let down by the silly ice cream container.
    AA do Ice cream sundae and I have to say I think they are consistently very good.

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Food is being loaded in two different countries which are on two different continents in two different hemispheres. I would expect the menu to be different due to local, seasonal, and supplier variants. Surely that is normal and not as noteworthy as the article indicates?

    Icecream in a tub wouldn’t bother me but I concur the AA sundaes are excellent. They have ruined many a diet but it’s not cheating above 30,000ft. Right?

  • vlcnc says:

    The food doesn’t look great imo. Lacks the premium feel you would get on QR. Frankly not really very impressed especially given how expensive SAA are on this route – very mediocre.

    • vlcnc says:

      Also the lack of proper champagne feels mean and stingy – £7 sparkling wine feels very cheap for a business class product!

      • Rob says:

        If they served (French) champagne instead of local stuff I can imagine complaints.

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          True, but if it is retailing at £7 per bottle imagine what they are paying. Not that price equates to quality, and Anika does stipulate that it was nice, but it’s hardly pushing the boat out. There will be more premium SA sparkling offerings that perhaps better align with the experience SA are trying to portray and the price they want to charge.

        • Mark F says:

          There certainly would be!

          The Laborie is an MCC so nothing wrong with that. It might not be possible to select a more premium MCC simply because of the tiny production quantities (4000L total for the Laborie Jean Taillefer 2006, for example) – that they’ve gone with a KWV product is perhaps evidence this.

        • Crafty says:

          Graham Beck is an excellent SA sparkling wine producer with some mid and premium offerings

    • Ian says:

      To me the food looked good, though badly let down by the cheap sparkling wine particularly as the ticket prices are so high. However, we were amazed by the deterioration in quality of both food, wine and service on recent QR flights compared with our experience 2 years previously. Despite singing their praises so highly before, we will definitely be also considering other carriers for our next trip to the Far East. QR weren’t cheap either.

  • Peter K says:

    How is the gluten (wheat?) free diet working Anika? Are you back to normal food again or do you suffer for your job to do reviews? 🙂

    • anikaanika99 says:

      A bit of both… I’m eating a bit of wheat here and there, but I didn’t eat the pasta with the salmon on the inbound and the croissant and muffin on the outbound 🙂

  • AspirationalFlyer says:

    I’d be interested to read a side by side comparison of BA vs South African ranking (amongst anything else thought relevant): check-in experience, lounge, boarding, pre departure experience including amenity kit, food, drink, aircraft cleanliness, service, sleep quality, entertainment and arrivals experience. And thanks for the review! Can we get one of Air France/KLM soon on a long haul route.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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