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South African SA 227: 10/FEB/10: EZE-JNB: J Cabin  
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5124 posts, RR: 55
Posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Feedback always appreciated.




I > Background:
One of the “perks” of my job is the ability to take mini-“breaks” between 2 meetings. So after an intense day in Buenos Aires, I could have gone back to Caracas to then head via Frankfurt and Jo’Burg to Maputo, or gone directly to Jo’Burg and spend a weekend with a friend. Of course, I chose the later.

Like my previous reports on Star carriers (or, “almost” Star carriers) such as JJ, ET, and SN, there are surprisingly few reports of SAA – surprising as they have been a global airline for a long time! Anyways, I believe this will be the first review of SAA’s link between Africa and South America, and will look into their new link between Buenos Aires and Jo’Burg. Note that Malaysia Airlines provides the same with a 1-stop flight via CPT which is apparently increasingly doing well.

II > Pre-Flight:

a) Before Airport:
South African Airways (SAA) is the biggest South African airline (3rd biggest in Africa) and operates from its hub in Johannesburg to all six continents. Besides its own operations, it plays an important role in the Star Alliance.

I tried buying my tickets on SAA’s website at www.flysaa.com, but gave up after spending over an hour. Each time, I would get a wide range of issues including not finding availability … when the flight was wide open! Moreover, it would choke anytime I would ask it to build a simple connection on her own metal (EZE-JNB-CPT). Soon, I used Expedia and had my e-ticket number generated in 10 minutes. Talk about making it difficult to use your own distribution channel! Anyways, I could not view (and, thus do anything with seating) on SAA’s website. However, a quick call to the pleasant call center in South Africa took care of this and I was en-route to enjoying SAA intercontinental for the first time.

b) At Airport:
Buenos Aires is a fantastic city … and I wish I had time to meet A.Net members (who all appear super cool). Unfortunately, the need for billable hours and some very demanding investment bankers meant I was working until the very last minute. Took a taxi and was at Ezeiza in 40 minutes. Not bad. Ezeiza is an “old-school” airport, and I love it for that very reason! All airlines (except AR) uses the relatively modern terminal A. Check-in was a breeze and the very sweet young woman joked with how many times I had entered and exited Argentina and that I should apply for a citizenship. After flirting back with her that if she married me, I’d move, she was visibly impressed and even gave me her phone number. Personally, I think she was taken aback by my Castellano skills … and of course, I didn’t tell her I lived in Caracas. My Israeli “friend” would not approve of all this. Anyways, all in harmless fun. Immigration and security were quick affairs and I was soon into the relatively refurbished interiors of Ezeiza. The airport gets super busy in the afternoon and I kept myself entertained watching the diversity of traffic and observing passengers get off the beautiful MH 747 that had made her epic trek from KLIA via JNB and CPT. As soon as the United lounge opened, I made myself comfortable and soaked in the very dingy feel … and, the remarkable “lounge of an American carrier” feel. I can’t describe it!

Boarding was called 45 minutes prior and I made my way to the gate to observe the passenger dynamic. I was amazed at the amount of Asians (Singaporeans/Indians primarily) connecting onward at JNB to SAA and apparently SQ. It was going to be a decent load in Y, though J had only 40% load including several wives of nonrev captains …

J class boarding was done first and I wasn’t really greeted at the door as the crew seemed disorganized and running around to get paper-work done. Not really a good first impression. The other thing that was just sad was that during the entire boarding process, the crew were more interested in making sure that the nonrev captains and their wives were taken care of than the revenue generating passengers. Seriously?! At some point during the process, I was haphazardly handed down a bottle of water and the amenity kit. In fact, until the pre-take off drinks came around (champagne or OJ), not a single crew member even said “Hello”. As mentioned, J load was around 40%.

Take-off was delayed by around 45 minutes as they had “trouble with cargo.”

>Airport - External:

(Ezeiza Airport, Buenos Aires)

*


(Nostalgic)
Check-in:



Airport - Internal:
(Internal – I think it looks like Bombay’s Terminal 1B)


(FIDS)


(Post Security @ EZE)


Scenes of the tarmac:

(JJ to GRU)

(IB’s beautiful 340 to MAD)

(JJ to POA)

(MH pulling into gate)


Lounge

(SA uses UAL’s RED CARPET LOUNGE)

*
Boarding:



III> In-Flight:

a) Service Schedule + Impressions:
While on the ground, water bottles were distributed and pre-take off drinks offered. Amenity kits were also distributed. There were no magazines or newspapers (!) offered and no menu cards distributed. Soon after take-off, service commenced with “hot” towels and then a dinner service. Prior to landing, a small breakfast service took place.

During the “night” part of the flight, I was amused as several passengers complained about the Argentinean football board high-ups causing ruckus (too many whiskey/wine combos) and waking them up. Personally, I was amused at their conversation.

b) Aircraft + Seats:
When SAA introduced their J class, it was best-in-the-industry. It still is a really nice full-flat bed and it still is impressive. I was able to sleep a good 6 hours on them. The seat is also comfortable in other position and there is enough legroom to feel airy and comfortable. The entire cabin could use a little bit of sprucing up though … especially the bathrooms which felt very 1990s (what were people thinking with those yellow lights?). Interestingly, SAA has probably the most amount of random crèmes, oils, etc. present in a J class lav.

Aircraft:
(342 @ EZE)


Views from Aircraft:
(AF pushes back to CDG)

*

(I maintain that the 747 is a far more graceful bird than the 380 can ever aspire to be)

*

(Somewhere over water)


General Seat Views + Seat Legroom
(Seat controls)

*


(Legroom)


(Seat at comfortable “hangout” mode)


(Seat Partition)


(Non-descript blanket provided)


Seat Recline + Angle View:


(Row 1 is the best)

*

(Argentineans … look familiar?)


Cabin:


*

(Bathroom Amenities)


c) Meal + Beverage:
One does not get a very favorable impression when the crew starts going through all the various menu cards kept in front of seats 1D/1G in the “bar” area to find the appropriate one. Moreover, scattering them around passengers all over the floor is also probably not too refined. Anyways, this haphazard service would be the hallmark of SAA’s J cabin and would leave me with a very disappointing taste.

So after realizing that they have no menu cards, crew just commenced meal service with one flight attendant (“SAA 1”) dropping a crappy salad brought with main at my table. When I asked what is was, he said “I have no idea.” Another guy (“SAA 2”) then came rushing out of the forward galley and apologized because I had not been served the appetizer. Without any comments, he took my main course and started going back to the galley. In his rush, he ran into “SAA 3” (a woman FA) who was distributing bread. It was sadly hilarious to watch her drop the bread and then tell “SAA 2”, “see, what you have done now?” Those were the exact words spoken in front of the entire passengers!

Anyways, the appetizer (which neither the crew nor I had any idea what it was) was very good and I looked forward to my main course. I had flagged down “SAA 1” and asked him about meal choices … he had to go back twice and then offered me a selection of “maybe fish” and “chicken”. Since I did not want “maybe fish”, I opted for the chicken which turned out to be just plain nasty. It was this blob of chicken with a blob of cream sauce thrown on it. I was very tempted to return it, but took a bite and let it go.

After clearing my left-over main, I asked (“SAA 3” did not offer) about the dessert menu. In now what I am convinced is SAA training manual words, she responds, “I have no idea” and rushes back to the galley. Haha. Few minutes later, she puts it down in front of me with a plate of cheese saying, “I still have no idea what or who it is.” If she was trying to be funny, it did not register with me.

There were other hilarious aspects of the service. For example, one crew member referring it to as “lunch”, while the other, “dinner”. The sad part about the whole thing is that the crew did not seem mean or ill-tempered (like some carriers in the old Continent I have encountered), they just did not have any clue, and were not keen on really caring.

Thankfully, by breakfast, they had become a little more organized and actually remembered the 2 menu options on offer. I had the tiny sausages which were passable and rather fresh fruits.

Beverage service was adequate … though, they did not have much of a premium selection of beverages.

(Menu)
NONE

(Champagne @ Take-off)


(Lunch/Dinner service)

(Actually good appetizer)

*

(Nasty)

(“What is it? Who is it?”)

(Breakfast service)

*


d) Inflight Entertainment:
IFE on SAA consisted of individual non-AVOD flickering screens playing 7 non-descript movies. To complement this (and I guess, go with this “ambience”), you get a pair of crappy headphones which below to Economy Class more than anything. Actually, I am scared to ask that they give out in YCL. Thankfully, the in-flight magazine was rather good and supplemented by a magazine highlighting South Africa’s preparation for the World Cup.

(Screen and headphones)

(Poor “Airscape”)

*

*

*

*

(Oh look, we have magazines hidden in YCL, but JCL pax can’t be offered any)



(“In-flight magazines”, Boarding Passes, etc.)


e) Crew:
Disorganized, unremarkable, and uninterested. While I am sure they are good people, SAA crew need to go back to training to understand what refined service in JCL means. I just cannot accept the amount of chaos that this crew embodied. From the boarding process to the meal service, the crew was just all over the place. I think the last time I saw such chaotic service was on EY’s JFK-AUH flight. And, to be fair, the EY crew had it much more difficult in terms of the service schedule. While there are things the crew cannot control (menus not being loaded), they could have risen above this and showed that the passengers mattered. The meal service was just unacceptable. Finally, I would urge them to take care of their revenue passengers before catching up on the latest gossip. All very disappointing … and surprising because South Africans are great hosts and … some of the best crew on airlines such as Emirates tend to be South Africans.

IV> Post-Flight:
The 45 minute cargo delay sort of flowed through the flight and we reached JNB 45 minutes later than scheduled. Immigration was a quick enough affair and I was soon greeted by my friend after a VERY long walk through baggage pick-up and customs.

(What is the aircraft @ the foreground @ JNB?)

*

(JNB Arrivals)

*


V> Impressions + Scores:
Somewhere along the way, SAA seems to have lost her way. While the seats are still great, all other hardware is average at best, with IFE being antiquated. However, where SAA really lets you down is poor service delivery. The crew were absolutely unacceptable for a transcontinental JCL and the meals offered were poor. The entire operation (crew, menus not loaded, booking engine) seemed to have been thrown together without a deeper understanding of how to make an airline work.

SAA will face increasing challenges and its “first-mover” advantage will continue to be questioned in Africa. As more airlines fly into SAA, I think the biggest loser will be SAA itself. One has already seen how foreign airlines continue to erode SAA on home markets ... and this will continue. I anticipate BOM being taken off-line as 9W comes into play for example. While GRU performs really well, I wonder how JJ would affect the market.

To get you from point A to B, I’d recommend SAA. In fact, if you are looking for a good bed i JCL, SAA is a winner. However, if there are competing options, I would pay a higher price to have a more refined level of service anyday. Thumps down.




VI> Other Trip Reports:

PREMIUM:
8.66: Brussels Airlines (93): FIH-BRU: 01/2010
8.64: Turkish Airlines (59): JFK-IST: 11/2008
8.63: Jet Airways (88): JFK-BRU: 10/2009
8.61: Air Canada (49): YYZ-SCL: 06/2008
8.54: Turkish Airlines (77): GRU-DKR-IST: 04/2009
8.30: Jet Airways (74): KWI-BOM: 04/2009
8.23: United Airlines (72): SFO-SYD: 03/2009
8.11: Aeroflot (33): MOW-DEL: 09/2007
8.05: Air India (80): CCU-JFK: 06/2009
8.04: Korean Air (40): NRT-ICN: 10/2007
8.02: Delta Airlines (24): JFK-CDG: 08/2007
7.64: Royal Jordanian (91): AMM-YUL: 12/2009
7.46: LAN (55): YYZ-JFK: 09/2008
7.82: Singapore Airlines (06): EWR-SIN: 09/2006
7.25: Iran Air (88): BOM-IKA: 12/2009
7.23: Virgin Atlantic (81): BOS-LHR: 07/2009
7.14: Swiss (52): SCL-GRU: 06/2008
7.11: Austrian (79): VIE-JFK: 06/2009
7.07: Privatair (84): BOM-FRA: 08/2009
7.02: Qatar (68): DOH-JFK: 01/2009
6.96: Etihad (61): JFK-AUH: 12/2008
6.93: Delta Airlines (18): SEA-JFK: 11/2006
6.84: ConViasa (65): CCS-DAM: 01/2009
6.81: Air Canada (17): ICN-YYZ: 10/2006
6.70: KLM (32): EBB-AMS: 08/2007
6.39: South African (97): EZE-JNB: 01/2010
6.36: Privatair (60): MUC-BOS: 12/2008
6.29: TAM Brasil (96): POA-EZE: 02/2010
6.25: Korean Air (45): NAN-ICN: 10/2007
6.21: Iberia (87): BOS-MAD: 10/2009
6.11: TAP Portugal (53): GRU-OPO: 06/2008
6.00: Gulf Air (75): BOM-BAH: 04/2009
5.88: African Express (89): DXB-NBO: 11/2009
5.75: Singapore Airlines (16): CCU-SIN: 10/2006
5.64: NorthWest (46): ICN-NRT-SEA: 10/2007
5.54: Ethiopian Airlines (95): ADD-BOM: 01/2010
5.46: Icelandair (83): KEF-BOS: 08/2009
5.39: LOT (54): WAW-JFK: 06/2008
5.21: Egypt Air (73): CAI-IST: 02/2009
5.07: TACA (66): JFK-SAP: 01/2009
4.42: Air France: CDG-JNB (25): 08/2007

ECONOMY: Long + Medium:
9.26: Air India (48): JFK-DEL: 02/2008
7.38: Avianca (01): BOG-LIM: 07/2006
7.07: Sri Lankan (62): KWI-CMB: 12/2008
7.00: LAN (94): IPC-SCL: 01/2010
6.41: Avianca (78): JFK-BOG: 05/2009
6.41: American Airlines (58): LHR-BOS: 11/2008
6.39: Condor (85): SEZ-FRA: 09/2009
6.26: Jet Blue (21): CUN-JFK: 02/2007
6.06: Air Canada (04): YYZ-YVR: 09/2006
5.89: USA 3000 (19): PUJ-BDL: 01/2007
5.85: Spanair (69): MAD-LPA: 02/2009
5.79: Air New Zealand (42): RAR-NAN: 10/2007
5.52: Aerolineas (86): USH-AEP: 10/2009
5.46: TAP Air Portugal (23): OSL-LIS: 05/2007
5.19: Air Europa (70): LPA-MAD: 02/2009
5.16: Iberia (71): MAD-BOS: 02/2009
5.11: Air China (82): FRA-PEK: 08/2009

ECONOMY: Short
8.56: Paramount Airways (38): BLR-MAA: 09/2007
8.56: Kingfisher (64): HYD-CCU: 12/2008
8.24: Kingfisher (14): IXA-GAU: 10/2006
7.87: Indian (34): BOM-MAA: 09/2007
7.72: Alliance Air (13): CCU-IXA: 10/2006
7.57: Indian Airlines (10): DEL-CCU: 09/2006
7.23: West Jet (03): YYC-YVR: 09/2006
7.15: JetLite (37): BOM-GOI: 09/2007
6.70: Spice Jet (09): CCU-DEL: 09/2006
6.63: Air Fiji (44): NAN-SUV: 10/2007
6.63: Jazeera (67): DAM-KWI: 01/2009
6.58: Air Tran (02): EWR-MDW: 08/2006
6.48: Air India Express (63): CMB-MAA: 12/2008
6.44: CO Micronesia (39): ROR-YAP: 10/2007
6.41: Pacific Sun (43): NAN-SUV: 10/2007
6.37: Skybus (47): SWF-CMH: 02/2008
6.33: Kenya Airways (29): NBO-BJM: 08/2007
6.33: Sky Europe (56): LTN-BTS: 10/2008
6.31: Indigo (15): GAU-CCU: 10/2006
6.31: easyJet (57): BUD-LTN: 11/2008
6.22: Air Link Swazi (28): MTS-JNB: 08/2007
6.22: Air India (36): HYD-BOM: 09/2007
6.13: Adam Air (07): SIN-CGK: 09/2006
6.13: Air Rarotonga (41): RAR-AIT: 10/2007
6.00: Transairways (27): INH-MPM: 08/2007
5.95: Air Canada (05): ALB-YYZ: 09/2006
5.85: SAS Norge (22): OSL-AES: 05/2007
5.81: LAM Mozambique (26): JNB-MPM: 08/2007
5.69: Air Deccan (12): IXZ-CCU: 10/2006
5.67: Rwanda Air Exp (30): KGL-NBO: 08/2007
5.37: Felix Airways (92): SCT-SAH: 12/2009
5.11: Aero Republica (76): BOG-CCS: 04/2009
5.07: Go Air (35): MAA-HYD: 09/2007
5.00: Sky Airline (51): IQQ-SCL: 06/2008
4.96: Valuair (08): CGK-SIN: 09/2006
4.78: Air Comet Chile (50): SCL-IQQ: 06/2008
4.74: Fly 540 (31): MYD-LAU: 08/2007
4.33: Viva Aerobus (20): ELP-MTY: 02/2007
4.11: Air Sahara (11): CCU-BOM: 09/2006

(Note on Codes: Y – Economy, J – Business, F – First :: I/D – International/Domestic :: SR/MR/LR – Short/Medium/Long Haul)
(Note on Date: Dates are modified to be +/- 3 days from actual flight date to not reveal actual flight pattern)

VII> Other Pictures:
(Amenity kit)

*


[Edited 2010-04-11 11:12:42]


Live, and let live.
32 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineA340ANDRE From South Africa, joined Nov 2008, 25 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Thanks for the long overdue TR on SAA!

I am flying SAA J monthly on different International routes that includes South-America, USA, Euopre and Asia.

On the various flights I came to the following conclusions:

Service vary by a great margin between different crews but the best crew memebers are found on flights to LHR, FRA, IAD and JFK. I had similar unaccepatble experiences on various flights to HKG and GRU.

I always try to book seats in the first three rows on the left hand aisle of J-class as the senior cabin crew memeber serves this section.

On my flights to and from LHR I always make sure to be on SA234/SA235 as SA236/237 are served with this ageing ex-LH A342's with the same premium seat but without AVOD and as mentioned with the older 90's cabin. Luckily these planes will be replaced by the A332's in 2011.

Thanks again for the great report, in future route yourselve through GRU and experience the much newer A346.


User currently offlineContact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 13
Reply 2, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hi Alex,

Great report once again with fantastic pictures. There aren't many reports about flights between South America and Africa (probably because there are not too many flights linking these two continents) so this one was highly interesting.

Too bad that cabin service wasn't good on your flight. At least you travelled on a rare aircraft - there are not too many A342 around.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
I tried buying my tickets on SAA’s website at www.flysaa.com, but gave up after spending over an hour. Each time, I would get a wide range of issues including not finding availability … when the flight was wide open! Moreover, it would choke anytime I would ask it to build a simple connection on her own metal (EZE-JNB-CPT). Soon, I used Expedia and had my e-ticket number generated in 10 minutes. Talk about making it difficult to use your own distribution channel!

Not impressive indeed.

Regards
Christoph


User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5124 posts, RR: 55
Reply 3, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting A340ANDRE (Reply 1):
Thanks for the long overdue TR on SAA!

= Thanks Andre.

Quoting A340ANDRE (Reply 1):

I am flying SAA J monthly on different International routes that includes South-America, USA, Euopre and Asia.

= Well, perhaps you should be writing one then ... and then my report would not be rare  .

Quoting A340ANDRE (Reply 1):
I had similar unaccepatble experiences on various flights to HKG and GRU.

= I am surprised that HKG is not considered premium. Do you have any idea of the pax profile on that route?

Quoting A340ANDRE (Reply 1):
Thanks again for the great report, in future route yourselve through GRU and experience the much newer A346.

= Ok. So I get a better aircraft, but same crew  ?

Quoting A340ANDRE (Reply 1):
I always try to book seats in the first three rows on the left hand aisle of J-class as the senior cabin crew memeber serves this section.

= Haha. You sound like me on the LH CCS-FRA-CCS flights. I know exactly where to sit  .

Quoting Contact Air (Reply 2):
There aren't many reports about flights between South America and Africa (probably because there are not too many flights linking these two continents) so this one was highly interesting.

= Ya. Interestingly, I think the only other report I could find was my own linking GRU to DKR (onward to IST) on TK.

Quoting Contact Air (Reply 2):
At least you travelled on a rare aircraft - there are not too many A342 around.

= Yup. These 342's seem to do some exotic routes ... like the ConViasa one which flies CCS to DAM to IKA which I covered.

Thanks for the comments.

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6824 posts, RR: 77
Reply 4, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hi Alex,

great report with nice pictures. Very bad to hear that you had another negative experience on one of Africa's most prominent airlines in a short time.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
The other thing that was just sad was that during the entire boarding process, the crew were more interested in making sure that the nonrev captains and their wives were taken care of than the revenue generating passengers. Seriously?!

Unbelievable...

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
Somewhere along the way, SAA seems to have lost her way. While the seats are still great, all other hardware is average at best, with IFE being antiquated.

The A342s' days are numbered, they will be replaced by A332s between early 2011 and early 2012.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2486 posts, RR: 53
Reply 5, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hi Alex,

How wonderful to have friends spread out all over the world. They will always be within considerable flying distance for "Mini breaks" like yours.

Thanks for sharing this SA experience. I was wondering how their service might look like, especially in J. You have rightly stated that South African cabin attendants employed by the Middle Eastern carriers happen to be hospitable and service minded. I can reckon one particular QR attendant on my flight back in 2008. Too bad the J service of SA did not reflect the attitude.

Strange indeed that you encountered such booking issues on SA's own website. I did not really expect it from a more "senior" Star Alliance member.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
After flirting back with her that if she married me, I’d move, she was visibly impressed and even gave me her phone number.

How sweet. Could anything beautiful be arising from this?

The SA J class looks somehow similar to the GA one.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Sam Chui



Cheers,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Reply 6, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Thanks for that TR. SAA look like they need to overhaul their service standards - at least there was some good food, and the seats looked good. How come you took the SAA flight over the Malaysian one? I'm flying MH HKG-KUL-PEN next month, so a TR from them would have been nice!


http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8561 posts, RR: 54
Reply 7, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi Alex,

Another interesting TR, even more so for me as I'm planning to fly LHR-JNB-LHR to get the 342 before SAA replace them, gettign hard to travel on these birds!

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
there are surprisingly few reports of SAA – surprising as they have been a global airline for a long time

- Very true, we only see the odd domestic report now and again.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
I tried buying my tickets on SAA’s website at www.flysaa.com, but gave up after spending over an hour. Each time, I would get a wide range of issues including not finding availability … when the flight was wide open!

- I've not booked yet, but have 'played' with the website, not the most used friendly!

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
J class boarding was done first and I wasn’t really greeted at the door as the crew seemed disorganized and running around to get paper-work done. Not really a good first impression. The other thing that was just sad was that during the entire boarding process, the crew were more interested in making sure that the nonrev captains and their wives were taken care of than the revenue generating passengers. Seriously?! At some point during the process, I was haphazardly handed down a bottle of water and the amenity kit. In fact, until the pre-take off drinks came around (champagne or OJ), not a single crew member even said “Hello”. As mentioned, J load was around 40%.

- Wow, not a great impression at all.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
So after realizing that they have no menu cards, crew just commenced meal service with one flight attendant (“SAA 1”) dropping a crappy salad brought with main at my table. When I asked what is was, he said “I have no idea.” Another guy (“SAA 2”) then came rushing out of the forward galley and apologized because I had not been served the appetizer. Without any comments, he took my main course and started going back to the galley. In his rush, he ran into “SAA 3” (a woman FA) who was distributing bread. It was sadly hilarious to watch her drop the bread and then tell “SAA 2”, “see, what you have done now?” Those were the exact words spoken in front of the entire passengers!

- Never come across anothing like this, amazingly poor.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
What is the aircraft @ the foreground @ JNB?)

- HS748.

Thanks Alex, know what I'm in for now!

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5124 posts, RR: 55
Reply 8, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 32499 times:

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 4):
Very bad to hear that you had another negative experience on one of Africa's most prominent airlines in a short time.

= Ya. I have had a run of "average" flights. I don't necessarily view them as "negative" ... I just view them as experiences which make me question why should I (or, anyone else) pay a huge premium price to pay not a hugely premium product.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 5):


How wonderful to have friends spread out all over the world. They will always be within considerable flying distance for "Mini breaks" like yours.

= To be honest, I owe it to the graduate university system in the U.S. I think its an amazing place where diverse people from diverse backgrounds can meet and become friends. I sound like a commercial ... but I really do believe these institutions are great!

Quoting akhmad (Reply 5):
Strange indeed that you encountered such booking issues on SA's own website. I did not really expect it from a more "senior" Star Alliance member.

= Yes. Funny thing is I just went to their site to do a simple one-way booking for JFK to JNB, and it choked saying al seats are sold out.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 5):

How sweet. Could anything beautiful be arising from this?

= Suryo, I think a certain Israeli army person would be very unhappy with this suggestion  .

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 6):
How come you took the SAA flight over the Malaysian one? I'm flying MH HKG-KUL-PEN next month, so a TR from them would have been nice!

= MH had an additional stop in CPT and the flight departed much late. I wanted to leave the option of connecting to Maputo if required. Finally, while MH is a vastly superior product, SAA was Star.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 7):
Another interesting TR, even more so for me as I'm planning to fly LHR-JNB-LHR to get the 342 before SAA replace them, gettign hard to travel on these birds!

= Apparently, LHR is flown on the 346?

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 7):

- Very true, we only see the odd domestic report now and again.

= Weird no?

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 7):
- I've not booked yet, but have 'played' with the website, not the most used friendly!

= Yup. BTW, Opodo has some very cheap LHR-JNB J fares using SA or ... 8U ...  .

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 7):
- Never come across anothing like this, amazingly poor.

= Yup. Weird thing is they were not mean ... they just did not care.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 7):
- HS748.

= That is what I thought.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 7):
Thanks Alex, know what I'm in for now!

= Well, apparently the LHR flights have their best crew ... so I hope your experience is different than mine.

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8561 posts, RR: 54
Reply 9, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 32300 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 8):
Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 7):
Another interesting TR, even more so for me as I'm planning to fly LHR-JNB-LHR to get the 342 before SAA replace them, gettign hard to travel on these birds!

= Apparently, LHR is flown on the 346?

- Correct, should have been more clear, LHR-CPT-JNB, a mix of 342 and 343  

Interesting comment on the crews, lets see..........

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineMHTripple7 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1107 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 32098 times:

I am quite surprised you had such a poor experience with SA considering my rather pleasant experience with them about 2 years back. Your crew seemed appalling and it looks like the only thing South African had going for them on this flight was their seats.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
So after realizing that they have no menu cards, crew just commenced meal service with one flight attendant (“SAA 1”) dropping a crappy salad brought with main at my table. When I asked what is was, he said “I have no idea.” Another guy (“SAA 2”) then came rushing out of the forward galley and apologized because I had not been served the appetizer. Without any comments, he took my main course and started going back to the galley. In his rush, he ran into “SAA 3” (a woman FA) who was distributing bread. It was sadly hilarious to watch her drop the bread and then tell “SAA 2”, “see, what you have done now?” Those were the exact words spoken in front of the entire passengers!

This is pathetic yet hilarious at the same time. They must have deliberately tried to be this unorganized!

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
After clearing my left-over main, I asked (“SAA 3” did not offer) about the dessert menu. In now what I am convinced is SAA training manual words, she responds, “I have no idea” and rushes back to the galley. Haha. Few minutes later, she puts it down in front of me with a plate of cheese saying, “I still have no idea what or who it is.” If she was trying to be funny, it did not register with me.

Haha, this somewhat reminds me of my recent flight on OZ from ICN-LAX, which I will be doing a trip report on soon. Again, this is completely inexcusable.

Despite your rather poor experience with SA, your TR was a great read and many thanks for sharing!


User currently offlineLufthansa From Christmas Island, joined May 1999, 3217 posts, RR: 10
Reply 11, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 30942 times:

Well firstly thanks for taking the time end effort to write this report up.

I have to say I'm really disappointed in SA. A million years ago they had a reputation for
excellence. Then again if they didnt, when they took a lot longer to fly to europe then
everybody else their long haul operations would have been doomed (they weren't allowed
to overly lots of african nations for years for those interested and had to go up over the coast
instead of directly across africa).

Great trip report... but unfortunately looking like everybody else coming out of South Africa
these days. Not quite what it used to be. Unfortunately. My Guess? Too many people in
the goverment are meddling with how SA is run. Just a guess. Of course there is a chance
that you just had a bad crew and that this isn't typical. Any SA memebers care to shed some light?


User currently offlineMilesDependent From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 857 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 30320 times:

Great report Alex, thanks for posting. I am staggered at how bad a flight you had on what I thought would have been a much better airline.

md


User currently offlineryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4756 posts, RR: 25
Reply 13, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 30266 times:

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
All very disappointing … and surprising because South Africans are great hosts and … some of the best crew on airlines such as Emirates tend to be South Africans.

Maybe that is why they do not work for SAA? Hahahaha...

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 6):
I'm flying MH HKG-KUL-PEN next month, so a TR from them would have been nice!

I believe MH's scheduling would have been a problem besides the additional stop in CPT. They fly this route like what... Once or twice a week?



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5124 posts, RR: 55
Reply 14, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 29920 times:

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 10):
I am quite surprised you had such a poor experience with SA considering my rather pleasant experience with them about 2 years back. Your crew seemed appalling and it looks like the only thing South African had going for them on this flight was their seats.

= I was surprised too.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 10):
They must have deliberately tried to be this unorganized!

= See, that's just the thing ... as I said during my TR several times, I don't think the crew had any ill intentions ... they were just clueless and disorganized.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 10):
Haha, this somewhat reminds me of my recent flight on OZ from ICN-LAX,

= Oh God. Why didin't you tell me of all your poor OZ experiences before I got my tickets on them?!

Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 11):
Great trip report... but unfortunately looking like everybody else coming out of South Africa
these days. Not quite what it used to be.

= Well, to be fair, the country has gone through a tremendously crazy last 15 years and perhaps these are growing pains. "Not quite what it used to be" was based on a really nasty system ...

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 13):
Maybe that is why they do not work for SAA? Hahahaha...

= Sneaky sneaky ... lol.

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 13):
I believe MH's scheduling would have been a problem besides the additional stop in CPT. They fly this route like what... Once or twice a week?

= Yes ... as much as it may seem, I do have travel needs outside of writing TR's  .

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlineLufthansa From Christmas Island, joined May 1999, 3217 posts, RR: 10
Reply 15, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 29870 times:

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 14):
= Well, to be fair, the country has gone through a tremendously crazy last 15 years and perhaps these are growing pains. "Not quite what it used to be" was based on a really nasty system ...

Very true and a very good point. The issue is... PAX don't care, they just think, well i just paid $XXXX for this J class ticket and this is what i get? Still the upside is if they're got the hardware right its a matter of training and organisation to get the other part right. And that's not a white thing either...plenty of wealthy middle class blacks are probably even more demanding then some of the whites! I'd really like to see them succeed, which is why i was kind of taken back by this report! That's why i'm kind of hoping somebody can tell me this was just a really bad flight and isn't typical. But i've got a feeling... i'm going to be a tad dissapointed.


User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2486 posts, RR: 53
Reply 16, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 28867 times:

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 8):
I sound like a commercial ... but I really do believe these institutions are great!

I think the people behind the institutions like you and your friends have just made the difference by making commitments to become friends.

[Edited 2010-04-12 12:25:04]


Friends forever
User currently offlineLH459 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 886 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 28625 times:

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
he had to go back twice and then offered me a selection of “maybe fish” and “chicken”

No beef on a flight from Argentina? ¡Que horror! But seriously, the service levels on this flight were absolutely shocking! I strongly suspect that MH would've treated you better.



"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is temporary; the evil it does is permanent" - Ghandi
User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6596 posts, RR: 55
Reply 18, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 27631 times:

Hi Alex !

Great report with nice pictures! Flew on SA 342 JNB-MRU a few years ago and flight was okay.

Very disappointing to hear that the crew was so bad during boarding and especially had no idea about the meal options!!! Totally unacceptable!!

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
(I maintain that the 747 is a far more graceful bird than the 380 can ever aspire to be)

I agree 100% !!!

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6436 posts, RR: 38
Reply 19, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 25674 times:

Hi Alex,

Another great report with nice pictures. Good to see one on an A342 - I've got a TR to do on one as well sometime.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
Note that Malaysia Airlines provides the same with a 1-stop flight via CPT which is apparently increasingly doing well.

I assume people recognise the (usually) great service onboard MH.. Not a bad sector to travel on a 747!

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
gave up after spending over an hour

What a pathetic website!

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
not a single crew member even said “Hello”.

And this is in Business.. It seems like they see J passengers as too superior.. Which leads to this neglect but in any case it shouldn't happen.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
I maintain that the 747 is a far more graceful bird than the 380 can ever aspire to be

Agreed.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
So after realizing that they have no menu cards, crew just commenced meal service with one flight attendant (“SAA 1”) dropping a crappy salad brought with main at my table. When I asked what is was, he said “I have no idea.” Another guy (“SAA 2”) then came rushing out of the forward galley and apologized because I had not been served the appetizer. Without any comments, he took my main course and started going back to the galley. In his rush, he ran into “SAA 3” (a woman FA) who was distributing bread. It was sadly hilarious to watch her drop the bread and then tell “SAA 2”, “see, what you have done now?” Those were the exact words spoken in front of the entire passengers!

It sounds disastrous! Surely you'd know what is loaded onto the plane. What if special meals were handed out to normal people? I wouldn't be surprised if this actually happened.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
(Oh look, we have magazines hidden in YCL, but JCL pax can’t be offered any)

Didn't you know magazines were only for the passengers who don't pay heaps of money to sit at the front?  


It'd be interesting to compare the service on this flight to say one of their flights to PER. It sounds like it wouldn't be much better, but hopefully a bit more organised.


Regards,
Nicholas



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineAI151 From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2009, 303 posts, RR: 15
Reply 20, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 25671 times:

Hi Alex great TR as I finally got an insight to the SAA J product. The seat looks quite comfortable and service in general seemed okay. I agree with you on the chicken as it does look rather unappealing.

As for the terminal it does resemble BOM a lot but with people queuing up in an orderly manor definitely showed me it's not.

IFE doesn't look that entertaining to be honest.

Sandeep (AI151)



Modern Vision. Timeless Traditions...
User currently offlineSA7700 From South Africa, joined Dec 2003, 3431 posts, RR: 26
Reply 21, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 25506 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
Moreover, it would choke anytime I would ask it to build a simple connection on her own metal (EZE-JNB-CPT).

Alex, to be honest, I have been bitching about their website for years. So much so that one of my letters once made it into an edition of Sawubona, the in-flight magazine. My gripe with their website is that it is incapable of generating fares or actually booking tickets that involves travel in different cabin classes. E.g. the website can not “pair” economy class sectors with business class sectors in one PNR.

In their defense I did receive follow-up telephone calls from SAA customer service. The problem was explained in detail to them on more than occasion. Yet here we are a few years later and the problem has not been resolved. My conclusion: they just don’t care.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
So after realizing that they have no menu cards, crew just commenced meal service with one flight attendant (“SAA 1”) dropping a crappy salad brought with main at my table. When I asked what is was, he said “I have no idea.”

Absolutely unacceptable. My last flight with SA was in January 2010 from JFK-JNB. We did receive menu cards. Although not a "perfected choreographed ballet", the cabin crew service was good and the food edible. The only exception was the cheese course, which was nasty.


Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
It was sadly hilarious to watch her drop the bread and then tell “SAA 2”, “see, what you have done now?”

I was involved in a rather similar incident a few years ago on a JNB-JFK flight. Seated in the back of the “bus”, dinner was served. Trying my utmost best not to spill a speck of the tomato chicken dish on myself, I lifted the tinfoil “thingy” from the tray to lessen the distance from the tray to my mouth. Everything was going so well, until the tinfoil snapped right in the middle and my entire dinner spilled all over my clothes and onto the floor. I will never forget the embarrassment – I was on my hands and knees in the aisle with my best side in the air, scraping grains of rice into a manageable heap with an A343 safety card. Trying to clean your clothes in a lavatory, roughly the size of a broom closet, is also no small feat.  
Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
To complement this (and I guess, go with this “ambience”), you get a pair of crappy headphones which below to Economy Class more than anything.

The headphones are dreadful and I would advice that if you own a pair of decent ones, to pack them in if you are planning to fly on SAA in the near future. To my knowledge there are other carriers that do not supply decent headphones in their premium classes, not that this should serve as an excuse for SAA.


Keep well and thank you for all the interesting trip reports.  


SA7700



When you are doing stuff that nobody has done before, there is no manual – Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs)
User currently offlineAlexEU From Serbia, joined Oct 2007, 1817 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 25428 times:

Hi Alex,
Excellent trip report, I really enjoyed reading it! I didnt even know that SA has strarted flying to EZE.

How do you like A342 compared with other A340s?

MH 747 seems like very exotic in EZE. What is the demand between EZE, CPT and KUL??

Regards, Alex


User currently offlineEZEIZA From Argentina, joined Aug 2004, 4967 posts, RR: 25
Reply 23, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 25304 times:

Hola!
I read many of you TR's but don't comment much, but I enjoy them very much!
Next time you're in town let me know  

saludos!



Carp aunque ganes o pierdas ...
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5124 posts, RR: 55
Reply 24, posted (4 years 6 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 24383 times:

Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 15):

Very true and a very good point. The issue is... PAX don't care, they just think, well i just paid $XXXX for this J class ticket and this is what i get? Still the upside is if they're got the hardware right its a matter of training and organisation to get the other part right. And that's not a white thing either...plenty of wealthy middle class blacks are probably even more demanding then some of the whites! I'd really like to see them succeed, which is why i was kind of taken back by this report! That's why i'm kind of hoping somebody can tell me this was just a really bad flight and isn't typical. But i've got a feeling... i'm going to be a tad dissapointed.

= Yup. You are probably right ... passengers do not care. However, I am more willing to recognize the growing paisn the country has as it transitions.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 16):
I think the people behind the institutions like you and your friends have just made the difference by making commitments to become friends.

= Agreed. However Suryo, without these U.S. institutions providing the platform for people around the world to meet, these bonds could never have been formed.

Quoting LH459 (Reply 17):

No beef on a flight from Argentina? ¡Que horror! But seriously, the service levels on this flight were absolutely shocking! I strongly suspect that MH would've treated you better.

= I agree  .

Quoting The777Man (Reply 18):

Great report with nice pictures! Flew on SA 342 JNB-MRU a few years ago and flight was okay.

= Was this the continuation flight to HKG? Also, what equipment did they use?

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 19):


Another great report with nice pictures. Good to see one on an A342 - I've got a TR to do on one as well sometime.

= So where is that report Nicholas  ?

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 19):
And this is in Business.. It seems like they see J passengers as too superior.. Which leads to this neglect but in any case it shouldn't happen.

= Well, pax should be treated well in all cabins ... but I am baffled because it does not take much to say a "Hello" especially at the beginning of a journey when you are all rested.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 19):

It sounds disastrous! Surely you'd know what is loaded onto the plane. What if special meals were handed out to normal people? I wouldn't be surprised if this actually happened.

= LOL. A good crew overcomes operational issues.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 19):
Didn't you know magazines were only for the passengers who don't pay heaps of money to sit at the front?

= Again, lazy crew ... I have had plenty of times sitting in Y and asking for a magazine and having the crew go front and get it.

Quoting SA7700 (Reply 21):
Alex, to be honest, I have been bitching about their website for years. So much so that one of my letters once made it into an edition of Sawubona, the in-flight magazine. My gripe with their website is that it is incapable of generating fares or actually booking tickets that involves travel in different cabin classes. E.g. the website can not “pair” economy class sectors with business class sectors in one PNR.

In their defense I did receive follow-up telephone calls from SAA customer service. The problem was explained in detail to them on more than occasion. Yet here we are a few years later and the problem has not been resolved. My conclusion: they just don’t care.

= Aah ... you have higher expectations than me. Marrying booking classes is pretty complex and I think VERY few airlines actually offer this option on their website ... actually, I can't think of one right now? My gripe was basic booking should be a breeze. It is sort of Distribution 101 ... your website is the easiest, cheapest sales channel ... why do you want to drive customers away from it, and then pay a OTA or GDS fee is beyond me.

I wonder if things with change. I forget her name ... the new woman in charge of SAA ... have met her and she actually did a great job at Express.

Quoting SA7700 (Reply 21):
Absolutely unacceptable. My last flight with SA was in January 2010 from JFK-JNB. We did receive menu cards. Although not a "perfected choreographed ballet", the cabin crew service was good and the food edible. The only exception was the cheese course, which was nasty.

= LOL. I have heard that the JFK flight usually gets good service. I personally hate it because of the way it breaks sleep (DKR is famous for that - TK  ) ... and, you can't sleep through the stopover due to all the security screening.

Quoting SA7700 (Reply 21):
Trying to clean your clothes in a lavatory, roughly the size of a broom closet, is also no small feat.

= Not pleasant. No crew to help you?

Quoting SA7700 (Reply 21):
The headphones are dreadful and I would advice that if you own a pair of decent ones, to pack them in if you are planning to fly on SAA in the near future. To my knowledge there are other carriers that do not supply decent headphones in their premium classes, not that this should serve as an excuse for SAA.

= Yup.

Quoting AlexEU (Reply 22):

How do you like A342 compared with other A340s?

= Alex, there is a weird old-school feel to it.

Quoting AlexEU (Reply 22):

MH 747 seems like very exotic in EZE. What is the demand between EZE, CPT and KUL??

= The airline did very weak initially ... but loads have stabilized as it treats each as a distinct market. KUL-EZE does not get a lot of thorough pax.

Quoting EZEIZA (Reply 23):
Hola!
I read many of you TR's but don't comment much, but I enjoy them very much!
Next time you're in town let me know

= My friend, soon. I think I will come to BA for a weekend just to hang out with the A.Net crowd. I might win a project in a nearby country thats kinda boring (hehe), so BA might be my every weekend getaway.

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
25 Post contains images toobz : Hello Abrelosojos! Thank You for YET another awesome TR..I am soo jealous of your trips WOW is all I can say! I was just reading MHTRIPPLEs (I'm prett
26 toobz : sorry to post again...but now im curious. who was that guy in the picture?
27 Post contains images NZ107 : Behind the backlog of uni and possibly 4 other TRs My experience on AR was much better than I had experienced, that's for sure. It'll be posted here
28 Stretch 8 : This report was most informative for me. I have flown SAA exactly 4 times; all on a trip from LHR to SA and back, in 2007. Flew from LHR to JNB on one
29 MD11junkie : Hey Alex, I just read your trip report for the first time. My father's wife just returned from JNB on SA. She's not even close the traveller that you
30 Post contains images abrelosojos : = Anytime. = With DL's new J class, you'd probably get better service. = What is the obsession with my shoes and jeans ? I do have a closet full of b
31 dc863 : Interesting report. Today's SAA is a far cry from the professional SAA I flew in the summer of 1983 to Jo'burg.
32 Post contains images Reifel : Hi Alex, thanks for this good report. I wasn't online for quite a while and didn't noticed it earlier. Your descritption of the service was somewhat f
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