Johannesburg Airport's First-Class Cycad Lounge

During our lengthy layover in Johannesburg between our South African Airways flights from Dar es Salaam and New York, SAA gave us a chance to try out the Cycad lounge in the O.R. Tambo International Airport, which is normally reserved for first class customers (SAA uses a two-class system on most of its flights, but recognizes connecting passengers flying first class on codeshare flights), Voyager Lifetime Platinum and Platinum members.

Unlike the business-class Baobab lounge, which is long and very spacious, the smaller Cycad lounge is smaller and much more intimate. Most of the spaces are circular, and the curved walls offer a sense of privacy—it’s hard to see an awful lot of space at once, so there’s no overwhelming sense of being in a huge, cavernous room. Also, as the space is designed for fewer people, the lounge seems much quieter than Baobab, though that could also be due to the walls enclosing more of the space.

The Baobab lounge has cold snack bar with wraps and sandwiches, but Cycad has a full restaurant where guests can have a multi-course meal (or several) throughout the day. While we got work done in the business center (flat-screen computers on a circular table against the wall, with two small meeting rooms off to the side), the staff kept coming by to see if we wanted them to bring us any drinks or snacks. When we did get a pre-flight light meal, the seafood soup and grilled cheese (and ham and tomato) sandwich got high marks. (They were out of the lamb shank, alas, or I’m sure one of us would have tried that.)

In addition to showers (which seem to be much like those in Baobab), the lounge also has “snooze rooms” for those who need a nap before their flight.

If your clients have any kind of layover in Johannesburg, see if you can book them into Cycad. There's nothing wrong with Baobab, of course, but those extra little touches can make a world of difference.


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