Bluepoole From South Africa, joined Jan 2005, 51 posts, RR: 3 Posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 5659 times:
South African Airways (SAA) is replacing all of their Boeing 737-200's with Airbus A319 aircraft. To date, nine A319's have been delivered. The days of the B732's are numbered...
I've read in the Civil Aviation forum this morning, that a function will be held next month (June) to bid farewell to the B732's, which have served SAA faithfully for many years. Very soon, they will all be gone - it will be a sad day to see them go.
In light of the above, I decided to take a trip to experience the B732 for the last time (in SAA's livery, at least, luckily there are still some other airlines in South Africa with B732's on their fleet!), and to welcome its replacement, the A319. My trip was to Durban - on the outbound leg I would fly on a B732, and return on the new A319. How fitting!
The idea of this trip was not to compare the two types of aircraft with each other, since it would be unfair to compare old with new. I took the opportunity to evaluate the A319 and compare it with the Boeing 737-800, which is also on SAA's fleet, of course. I know it is not a direct comparison in terms of size. I rather concentrated on comfort, cabin noise levels, etc. Oh yes, I must add that it was my first time on an Airbus aircraft of any kind - that was a special and exciting moment for me!
Thursday, 28 April
Johannesburg (FAJS) to Durban (FADN)
Carrier: South African
Aircraft: Boeing 737-200, ZS-SIH "Kei"
It was interesting to fly on "Kei" since one of my friends has built a plastic model of this particular aircraft (OK, so I'm passionate about my hobby and a complete airliner freak). I got comfortable in seat 21F, and luckily the flight was not too full so I had the whole row to myself. Pushback was on time at 14:05, and a couple of minutes later we were airborne (taking off from rwy 21R). After cruising on FL290, we descended and landed on rwy 6 in Durban. Total flight time was 50 mins.
Thursday, 28 April
Durban (FADN) to Johannesburg (FAJS)
Carrier: South African
Aircraft: Airbus A319, ZS-SFI
Boarding begun later than scheduled, but pushback was still on time at 19:40. I chose seat 26A when I booked online...and got it. The A319 is slightly higher than a B737, I noticed (or it seems like you are sitting higher, at least). Still want to go and check the specs on both types. Take-off was powerful from rwy 24...we climbed to FL350 and headed straight for JNB. Once again the flight time was 50 mins and we landed on rwy 21L. We had to stop before crossing rwy 21R on our way to the terminal, to allow a SAA B744 to depart. It rotated at the moment I could see it, and boy was that a sight!
I liked the interior of the A319. As for cabin noise levels and comfort, it feels pretty much the same as the B737-800: not better, not worse. The A319 is fitted with Recaro seats. I liked the concept of a built-in cup holder (inside the tray) when the tray is in the stored position. Sometimes you are finished eating but still have your drink left, but you want to fold the tray away to read a magazine, etc.
The SAA B737-200's will sadly be missed...I think SAA has received good service out of them. Times are moving on, and the Airbus A319 seems like a good replacement. Hopefully it will prove itself as a worthy & faithful aircraft too!
I think that I actually saw your flight taking off from my hotel room at the Intercontinental Sun. I had just gotten back from some meetings around 215pm that day and the sound of the 732 taking off drew me to the window just as you guys passed by.
AIR MALTA From Malta, joined Sep 2001, 2411 posts, RR: 1 Reply 5, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5162 times:
My last B732 flight was on Air Malta on the TUN-MLA-TUN route. That was back in 2002!
My first B738 flight was last December with SAA. I pretty enjoyed that bird and the service on SAA. The service and the catering were amazing and the FAs were very friendly like all South Africans I have to say. I tend to prefer the 737NG family to the A32X family but I do not why, may be because Airbus is dominating my trips these days!
AIR MALTA From Malta, joined Sep 2001, 2411 posts, RR: 1 Reply 7, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 5153 times:
Quoting Ts-ior (Reply 6): AIR MALTA, what about your first DH8 experience ? May we expect a trip report like for TUN-VIE ?
Well my DH8 experience was cool. It is defintely more confortable to ride thant the ATR family. Also seeing the tyres touch the runway on landing is quit exciting! I shall be writing a trip report soon. But I am little bit lazy
Essjay From South Africa, joined Dec 2000, 75 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 5096 times:
Thanks for info; living in PLZ, I have been on my fair share of B732s, including Kei a few times. I live quite close to the airport and I've noticed the A319s have started serving PLZ...the engines have a distinct noise, quite different from the booming B732s and fairly quiet B738s.
A question for you: did your A319 have Business Class? I booked a Business Class Voyager Award ticket for July, but SAA called me today to say that there is no Business Class on this aircraft so they've dowgraded me Economy.
I've seen photos on A.net and it looks like there is Business; the seat plans I've seen online suggest a Business Class configuration at the front of the plane...have they kept the seats, but dropped the Business Class service? Any idea?
Bluepoole From South Africa, joined Jan 2005, 51 posts, RR: 3 Reply 9, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 5059 times:
UK_Dispatcher - yes, CE still looks very happy with the 732's, and yes they still use the 721 and the 722's!
Essjay - the A319 definitely had the business class seats, it was exactly like the layout plan on the website suggests (5 rows with 5 seats each). Unfortunately I am not sure if they provided the Business Class service, but I remember that there were people in those seats and the dividing curtain between Business & Economy was closed during the flight.
Jrebel From Sweden, joined Aug 2000, 174 posts, RR: 0 Reply 11, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4811 times:
Quoting Essjay (Reply 8): SAA called me today to say that there is no Business Class on this aircraft so they've dowgraded me Economy....have they kept the seats, but dropped the Business Class service?
Correct. SA will no longer offer C class on flights to Port Elizabeth, George, East London, Livingstone and Victoria Falls. Voyager elites will be first in line to be seated in the C class cabin on flights to and from these destinations.
SA006 From South Africa, joined Sep 2003, 1883 posts, RR: 55 Reply 12, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 4764 times:
Bluepool - Great stuff mate! Had the pleasure of flying back from DUR on SAA 732 ZS-SIB (Limpopo) back in August last year. Luckily , as you said there are still quite a few airlines still flying the 732 in South Africa. Nationwide are receiving another one pretty soon (ZS-PIX)
Quoting LPLAspotter (Reply 4): I even remember flying my first 747 which, coincidentally, was on SAA, named Lebomobo, in 1974.
Funny , I flew on one of Lebombo's last commercial services from GRJ to JNB. An awesome flight. Went all the way to GRJ just for that one. That was back in December 2003.