Flying in Style with South African Airways

Business Class flat beds on South African Airways


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There is simply no other way VIPs should jet set to Africa other than flying business class on South African Airways.

Luxury Travel Advisor returned from Africa Tuesday morning after covering the INDABA 2014 trade show in Durban, South Africa. I actually flew business class both ways but can only write about the flight back since I slept for about 95 percent of the way there. 

The return flight, however, was simply one of the most relaxing and stress-free flights I have ever experienced in my career. Now I must admit  I've never flown Emirates, which is usually hailed as the best flight experience in the world, but I can easily put this latest flight right up there with business class flights I'v taken on Cathay Pacific Ariways, All Nppon Airways and Air New Zealand.

The beds are actual beds. They are completely flat and wide enough for me to curl up in a little ball as I usually do when I catch some Z's in the fetal position. The control panel for the bed is located in between yourself and the person next you and provides enough of a barrier so, unlike most flights, it doesn't feel like you are sleeping with a stranger. You are completely separate and there is ample room to walk past the person in the aisle seat without disturbing him or her, depending on how tall that person is of course. And there are full pillows and full blankets. 

South African Airway's VIP lounge at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa

The food and beverage service rivaled some of the best restaurants I've eaten at in New York City. The quality of the food was excellent but it was the attentive service that set this meal apart from most I've had on flights. When I was halfway through my glass of M'Hudi Platinum Pinotage 2011, a blend of pinot noir and hermitage that is purely South African, there was my flight attendant there to fill it back up. As soon as I finished my last bite of my baked penne pasta, there she was again to take it away. 

Although I recommend the meal I had, other impressive selections included the pan fried beef fillet, the grilled chicken supreme abd the grilled kingklip. For dessert, the apricot summer cheesecake looked great but I went for the cheese plate and another glass of vino.

The movie selection was a healthy mix of newly released flicks from American Hustle, Grudge Match, The Monuments Men and Gravity to some classics like Invictus, which is very appropriate for someone just arriving or leaving South African. Other classic included The Dark Knight and Big, which always puts a smile on my face. 

Now, there are rarely any flights that are 100 percent perfect and the only thing on this otherwise impressive flight that I did not like was that the flight attendants would wake you up in the morning to give you a hot towel. Some people enjoyed this, but I personally would rather sleep until I woke up on my own. Those hot towels can wait. But it does says a lot about how attentive the service was when the only thing wrong with the flight was too much service. That's not a terrible problem to have. 

Between all of my departing and returining flights, I got to experience three of South African Airways' premium lounges, one at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, one in Cape Town Internatiomal Airport in South Africa and one in the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Snacks and drinks at South African Airway's VIP lounge at the Cape Town International Airport in South Africa

The best of the three was the one in Johannesburg. It had a full bar with a bartender who would bring be a frosty Castle Lager beer every 10 minutes without me even asking him to. There were full sandwiches and other snacks from chips and dip to crackers and cheese. There were tons of computer stations, iPad stations, phone charger stations and 50+-inch flat screen televisions everywhere. It was very chic.

The best views however were found at the lounge in Cape Town. This was more of a self-service lounge although attendees were there to assist if need be. But most of the leather, reclining chairs and couches offer stunning mountain views. The one at John F. Kennedy was pretty simple but efficient. It had everything you need to get you in the mood for the flight.

Now you can see why I slept for most of the way there. 



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