PlaneHunter
Topic Author
Posts: 6512
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:10 pm




Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz



Background
After returning from Dubai in March, it was time to plan another trip - preferably a long-haul trip over a weekend. So I considered going to Canada, the United States or somewhere in the Gulf region again. I was planning to depart on Saturday and return on Monday or Tuesday. Additionally, I was trying to add some domestic hops to the itinerary. After checking countless flight options, I earmarked an itinerary including a flight on Austrian's Boeing 777 from New York to Vienna. That would have been a nice flight on a new carrier and a great plane, but I could neither find an overly exciting westbound transatlantic flight nor really interesting domestic flights.

Just out of curiosity, I checked flights to South Africa where I had always wanted to go. South African Airways - high on my list for a long time - had some special fares from Germany. After discovering an exciting itinerary including three interesting widebodies, I also found highly interesting domestic flight options. Now I couldn't resist any more and started booking. First of all, I booked Nuremberg-Frankfurt-Johannesburg (departure on Saturday) and Cape-Town-Johannesburg-Frankfurt-Nuremberg (arrival on Tuesday) on Cheap Tickets. Operating carriers: Lufthansa (A380), Lufthansa CityLine (CRJ700 and Embraer 190) and South African Airways (A330-200 and A340-600). Then I added a Johannesburg-Durban flight and a Durban-Cape Town flight on two different carriers (details to follow). Since I would spend two nights on the plane, I only needed to book a room for one night at a Cape Town airport hotel. Four days, three new airlines, three new airports, two four haulers and a brand new A330-200 - I was really looking forward to that short trip.

By the way, I also considered flying to/from Munich on SAA's A340-300 (in place of LH's A380), but I didn't want to end up on one of two former Iberia frames with original (out-of-date) Iberia interior. Those all-white planes, actually planned to be refurbished by mid-2011, have been used on all SAA A340-300 routes. And even though I had already flown on LH's A380, I didn't mind doing so again - actually I was even curious to find out how comfortable it would be on a 10 hour flight.





Saturday, May 2011
Frankfurt (FRA) - Johannesburg (JNB)
South African Airways SA261
Scheduled times: 20:45-07:15
Actual times: 20:46-07:14
Flight duration: 10:01 (hrs)
Distance: 5380 miles
Economy Class, seat 72K

Airbus A340-642
ZS-SNC (MSN 426)
Delivered in 02/2003


1st flight on ZS-SNC
3rd A340-600 flight
14th A340 flight
116th airline



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There was no need to rush on departure day, because I had already conveniently checked in online for both the NUE-FRA and the FRA-JNB flights on the evening before. Actually I had even pre-reserved my seats on all three widebody flights shortly after booking. I had simply called SAA's office in Frankfurt and a female agent had blocked the desired seats for me.  thumbsup 

Lufthansa CityLine CRJ700 D-ACPK - a new registration for me - flew me to Frankfurt in 31 minutes. During the bus tour to Terminal 1A I logged some registrations and was watching out for my SAA A340-600 which would be a special one as I had found out on ACARS in the morning.  Cool

Once at Terminal 1B, I went straight towards my gate. However, while walking, I suddenly spotted my plane being towed to the gate. I headed to the window and quickly took out my camera, but I had to wait because a cleaning lady was taking a picture of the plane with her mobile phone camera. Finally, it was my turn. Here it is, ZS-SNC, my favorite A340-600 in the SAA fleet - what a stunning bird:



ZS-SNC was delivered in February 2003 and painted in Star Alliance colors in January 2006. It's currently the world's one and only A340-500/600 wearing the Star Alliance paint scheme:



If SAA had asked me in advance which frame in the 9-strong A340-600 fleet I'd like to get, I would have demanded exactly that one. I couldn't get enough of it:


This was my third A340-600 now - and for the third time it turned out to be a special one. My first A340-600 had been Lufthansa's oldest frame (D-AIHA) and my second one had been Virgin's G-VGOA, the oldest A340-600 in commercial service. What comes next?  Wink

Numerous people were already waiting in the gate area, but it wasn't cramped. A gate agent announced boarding by row numbers, but after the process had commenced for priority passengers, I didn't hear any separate invitations any more. People were just lining up and I joined them.

A friendly female flight attendant welcomed me at the door, but two others further down in the aisle didn't greet. Finally, I arrived at my row in the very back of the world's longest plane in commercial service. The 17 inch wide Recaro seats were a bit hard, but still quite comfortable:



The interior was in good condition - and had been cleaned well:



SAA provides a generous 33.5 inch pitch on the A340-600:



Due to its location, the big old-style IFE box doesn't take away much room:


The aisle seat next to me remained empty for a long time...and luckily that wouldn't change any more. I was glad when I heard that boarding had been completed.  thumbsup  There were several empty seats in the rear section, but I cannot estimate the load factor, because I didn't check the other two Y Class sections.

Two Russian speaking guys in the 40s were seated behind me and judging from their alcohol odor, they had already drunk too much...I wasn't amused, but once the air conditioning was turned on, I didn't smell anything any more.

What I found very nice was an announcement about the 60th birthday of a passenger. The flight attendant, most likely the purser, wished all the best on behalf of the crew - I guess the very passenger was quite happy about that special congratulation.

In-flight and shopping magazines:



Headphones and IFE controller:



Amenity kits in different colors were distributed, I got a beige/orange one:




German newspapers were also offered - in addition to magazines which had been available in the gate area. No doubt, I was quite impressed by SAA's pre-flight offerings.

SAA's winglets definitely belong to the prettiest ones in the industry, just like Virgin Atlantic's:



One of the pilots, most likely the captain, gave a short welcome speech and informed that we would take off in southerly direction. He referred to "good conditions for flying" and mentioned that we would only encounter some bad weather over Central Africa.

The following comic-style safety video was quite funny, but the reflection on the PTV screen was too strong for a decent picture. The flight attendants were really serious about safety, they even closed the seatbelt over blanket and pillow on the empty aisle seat next to me.

ZS-SNC was pushed back almost exactly on time and soon started taxiing to runway 18. I felt very comfortable and was really looking forward to the flight on this nice bird. Great reflection:



What I had been looking forward in particular were the tail camera views on SAA's A340-600:



Front camera view was also available, but that's not as spectacular as the tail camera view. It wasn't easy to get clear shots of the screen, so I was constantly taking pictures during taxi. Judging from his look, an older man in the middle row found that quite strange. Sorry, but that's what it is when travelling on the same plane as PlaneHunter.  Wink



Beautiful evening light:



Lufthansa CityLine E-Jet:



Now it was our turn. What a fantastic IFE feature:



"Springbok 261" almost ready for takeoff:



Some moments later, the four Rolls-Royce Trent 556 powerplants started howling and ZS-SNC lifted off gently after a long takeoff roll. Simply awesome view:



Gear up and locked, doors closed:



Goodbye, Germany:



Breaking through the clouds is always such a pleasure, especially during sunset:







About 20 minutes after takeoff, two charming female flight attendants started serving drinks. They took their time and asked all passengers very nicely about their drink wishes. I ordered ginger ale with ice and got two cans (Schweppes!) as well as a bottle of water.  thumbsup 



Now it was time to explore the AirScape audio/video on-demand IFE system. Welcome screen:



Main menu:



There's even a kids' main menu:



Touchscreen navigation is quite easy, you only need the handset for playing games. The system offers a choice of 40 movies, 50 TV features, 10 games and 102 music albums. As usual, I watched the airshow most of the time. You can zoom in and out if you wish to:



While certain carriers interfuse the airshow with ads, SAA chose health tips - actually a very good idea:





Menu cards would have been nice, but the dinner choices were only announced by a flight attendant. The announcement was difficult to understand, but when the "charming team" arrived at my row again, one of them kindly told me that beef, chicken and a vegetarian option were available. I ordered beef and got this highly impressive tray:


I was really surprised that an African carrier was serving German classics such as "Rinderbraten" (braised beef), "Semmelknödel" (bread dumplings) and potato salad. I usually love to eat these specialties and was a bit skeptic how this airline meal would turn out. The presentation was great - there was even parsley on the dumplings - but how would it taste? Tender meat, crisp vegetable, dumplings with "right bite" - apart from the bland sauce, the main course tasted very good. The potato salad tasted fine as well - and the cherry cheesecake was the perfect finish. No doubt, it was one of the best meals I have ever received in Economy Class.  thumbsup   thumbsup   thumbsup 

After dinner, I leaned back and relaxed while watching the airshow and listening to music. I fell asleep after a while - not long after we had crossed the Mediterranean Sea:



I woke up several times during the next few hours and also noticed some turbulence, but always fell asleep again. When I felt fully awake again, I was quite surprised to find out than more than 5 hours had passed:



The small plane icon was still stuck in the top left corner:



Brazzaville, Kinshasa, Luanda? I'd opt for LAD in order to try TAAG's 77W:



Breakfast was served 1.5 hours before landing. There was a choice between continental and hot breakfast - I ordered the latter, of course. The presentation was very nice again:


The pancakes tasted quite good, but I didn't like the greasy baked-in pieces of bacon. Everything else was fine - it was a large and filling breakfast. I also liked SAA's black tea, but it was served a bit late.

Bright sunlight ahead...



...what a beautiful composition of colors:



The small sun on the winglet seemed to be rising as well - stunning views like these are one reason why I love flying so much:



Bright sunlight flooding the cabin:



20 minutes before landing, the IFE system was deactivated - camera views weren’t available any more either. However, I preferred looking out of the window this time anyway:









We touched down gently after a flying time of 10 hours and one minute:



After spending about 10 minutes on the taxiway, we arrived at the gate almost exactly on time. I was fascinated by the low clouds over the airport - and various aircraft on the ground. Here's an Arik Air 737-800:




JNB Spotting
Due to the central location of our arrival gate, it was only a short walk to immigration. After waiting about 20 minutes in queue, I quickly got my passport stamped - without being asked anything. As soon as I had changed some money, I checked in for my domestic flight to Durban and went straight to the observation deck on the fourth floor of the International Terminal:



This statue of anti-apartheid politician Oliver Reginald Tambo was unveiled on the occasion of the renaming of the airport in October 2006:



There's only a limited number of chairs, but I preferred standing after the long flight anyway:



The facility is not suited for photographers - as clearly visible on the next two pictures - but excellent for registration spotting:



I really enjoyed hanging around there - I was able to log registrations of most arriving and departing planes, all these interesting movements kept me very busy:


After 1.5 hours, it was time to leave, unfortunately. I didn't have enough time to visit the observation deck on the domestic terminal, but I was able to continue spotting for a while in the gate area. I logged a total of 62 new registrations in about three hours at JNB which was very pleasing. Story to be continued...



Conclusion
South African Airways was named the best airline in Africa at the 2011 World Airline Awards. Justified or not? Probably. What I can say without hesitation is that SAA belongs to the best long-haul airlines which I have flown on. Seating comfort, catering, staff and service were great - and even though the IFE system on the A340-600 is a bit outdated in general, it offers most enjoyable tail camera views. I wouldn't hesitate to take a SAA long-haul flight again, but I wouldn't want to get on the remaining A340-200s (to be retired later this year) or the two ex-Iberia A340-300s. I can only hope that the latter ones will get refurbished soon.


Best Regards,
PlaneHunter



P.S.: Just in case you missed them - my previous trip reports:
Fuel Dump & Return To CDG: Enroute To LAX On 9/11
Greek Quality: Aegean, Olympic & Istanbul Spotting
Exploring A Virgin: VS A343/A346 & Dubai Delights
Superb Stübli & Crew: LAS-LAX-ZRH-MUC, LX J Class
Grand Canyon & More: Scenic Flight On Dornier 228
San Francisco Sunshine...and A Frontier Fiasco
Fully Flat Bed to SFO: SWISS' New Business Class
Mountains, Meals & More: SunExpress Vs. Pegasus
Crossing Two Oceans: AKL-SFO-MUC, NZ 777 & LH A346
Bad Weather & Other Bad Luck: Touring New Zealand
Trans-Tasman Treat: Aerolineas Argentinas A340-200
Detours To Sydney: Wildlife, Tiger, REX & QFLink
Thai Fails To Impress: MUC-BKK-BNE On 744 & 777
Painful Delay & My 100th Airline: AF A380, VO F100
Fifth Freedom Tidbit: Kuwait Airways A300-600
Ship Vs. Plane: Porto Santo Line & Sata Air Açores
Awesome Approach, Splendid Scenery: LIS, FNC & TAP
Guernsey, Ash Cloud Alarm & Mostly Empty SQ 77Ws
Totally Thrilling: Scenic Flight On Lufthansa A380
Cirrus D38, Adria CRJ & Captain Niki Lauda On Duty
Monarch Hot Meal, E195 & More: PMI-ALC-MAN-MUC
Premium Meal & Palma Spotting: MUC-PMI, DE 757-300
The Dead Slow Transfer: PEK-MUC On Air China A332
Cancellation Brings Joy: HKG-PEK on Dragonair A330
A380 Cacophony, 777 Star Livery: DXB-SIN-HKG on SQ
The Next 5* Carrier? MUC-MCT-DXB, Oman Air A330
Turkey For 1.5 Hrs: Daytrip To AYT On Sky Airlines
CO Scores Again: ATL-IAH-EWR-FRA On ERJ, 752 & 764
Riding The Ultra Long-Haul Twin: Delta 777-200LR
Pacific Coast Jaunt: 3 Carriers, E120, E140 & Fog
The Ultimate 737: LHR-IAH-PDX On CO 777 & 739ER
Bye Bye, Hell! TRD-OSL-TXL-NUE - DY/AB/HE DH4
My Trip To Hell: NUE-CPH-OSL-TRD On Cimber & SAS
SFO-YUL-FRA: Map- & Sleepless On Air Canada's 77W
Sin City Gloss & Virgin America's Chic First Class
Seat Dilemma & Canyon Glamour: FRA To LAX, AC 763
On Par With Air France? DTW-AMS-MUC, KLM A330
Goodbye, Red Tails! DC-9-40/50 & Chicago Tour
Champagne & World Of Coke: Air France A340 To ATL
"Mission A380": Disappointing Legs On BA/BD/EI
Delights Of Doha, 773 & 77W: DOH-DXB-LHR On EK
A380 Really a Step Forward? LHR-DXB-DOH On EK
Quality & Style: HKG-LHR On Air New Zealand 744
Taiwan Trio: TransAsia, UNI Air And The Taipei 101
"The Wings Of Taiwan": EVA Air A332, 744 Combi
SHA-SZX, Shanghai 757: Delayed By The Military
PEK-SHA, China Eastern A330 & Shanghai At Night
Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330
Short & Splendid: MXP-MUC On Air Dolomiti's 146
3 Hours On Blue1: HEL-MXP On The MD-90
Winglets On A Classic: MUC-RIX-HEL On Air Baltic
BCN-MAD-ZRH-MUC: UX Shuttle Meets Swiss Quality
MUC-MAD-BCN: Star MD-87 & The Pain Of Vueling
Low Fares, Lovely Island: AK & Best Of Langkawi
4 Stars Or 5 Stars? FRA-KUL-FRA, Malaysia 777s
First And Last Time? JFK-FCO-MUC, Alitalia 777
JFK For 1 Day: Transatlantic Hop On CSA's A310
Sardinian Sun, Shiny New 73Gs & Cramped Mad Dog
Top And Flop: KIX-HEL-MUC, Finnair A320 & MD-11
The 524-Seat Twin-jet: HND-ITM On ANA 777-300
Kobe For 1 Hour: 767-Quickie On ANA & Skymark
Rocketing To Tokyo: FUK-HND On JAL (ex-JAS) 777
Oddities & Okinawa: JTA 734 & JAL 744D(Domestic)
MUC To Nagoya: Finnair E170 & (Old) "New" A340
Mad Dog, A320 Tech Delay & Best Of Lanzarote
Canaries Prop-Hopping: Islas Airways & Naysa
Canaries And Confusion: LH CRJ900 & Spanair A321
Hubbing For 162 Miles: HOQ-FRA-STR Ret On IQ/EW/LH
BOS-JFK-AMS-MUC: SSSS-Check And KLM 777
ATL-PIT-JFK-BOS: FL B717, JetBlue E190 And Delays
MUC-AMS-MEM-ATL On NWA A332 And 40-year-old DC-9
FRA-BKK-FRA Via CMB: SriLankan A332 & A343
BNE-SIN-DXB-MUC On Emirates B772ER & B773
2 Hours In Paradise: Hamilton Island (JQ/DJ)
BNE-SYD-BNE: Domestic Run On QF’s Oldest B747-400
Testing Qantas: SYD-MEL-SYD-BNE (B738, B763, A332)
Going Down Under: MUC-DXB-SYD On EK A332 & A345
Surprised By NIKI's Newest A320 & Screw-up By AB
Leisure Vs. Full Service: Condor & SN Brussels
"betterFly" On LH: Business Class For 99 Euro
Weekend Transatlantic Trip (2): US A321 & B762
Transatlantic For A Weekend (1): MUC-DCA On US


[Edited 2011-09-23 13:07:31]
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
gjunnar
Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2001 8:23 am

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:02 pm

Another Planehunter trip report - excellent as always. Thanks for putting it together.
The food really looks delicious, and the seat pitch appears also generous! Well done SAA.
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
Posts: 6512
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:05 pm

Quoting Gjunnar (Reply 1):
Another Planehunter trip report - excellent as always.

Hi Gjunnar, many thanks for your comments! Good to hear you enjoyed it.

Quoting Gjunnar (Reply 1):
Well done SAA.

  


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
palmjet
Posts: 1230
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2001 2:35 pm

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:11 pm

Hi PH - wow, I was not expecting this. I did not suspect you were off on another longhaul flight so soon after your Dubai adventures? A very nice report - thanks for posting.

SAA looks like they provided decent catering out of FRA. I work with a number of South Africans here in London who regularly fly SAA home ex LHR, and some of them have had some very poor experiences with food onboard SAA. Having said that, you get that with any airline from time to time.

The 340-600 looked good in the Star Alliance colours.

Good that you had the seat spare next to you too - makes it just that little more comfy for the long journey south. I've always lamented the fact that most flights ex Europe to SA seem to always be at night - I would love to do a day flight over Africa - I am sure when the weather is clear, the views must be stunning.

Great pics - I really love the sunrise pic you took as well. It's those times which I am reminded what an amazing place the world can be. Everything seems peaceful up there looking out the window.

Looking forward to the next parts of your report. Great stuff!!

Cheers P/jet
Eastern - Number One To The Sun
 
fra-flyer
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 7:37 pm

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:18 pm

Hello PH,

thanks for the Report!

ZS-SNC was one of the first 346 T flew with. Since I flew with SAA more then 15 times, I can only say that you are right. SAA is definietly a very good Airline. I flew the same route this summer with the LH380. Next time I´ll visit my South Africa I think i gonna choose SAA!

Cheers!
Greetings from Frankfurt :)
 
aflyingkiwi
Posts: 428
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:52 am

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:40 pm

Brilliant report PH, complete with an array of fantastic pictures. SAA's service looks very impressive, the food, the IFE & legroom all look absolutely amazing. Also congrats on getting on another special A346!

BTW you do have some dedication to do a long-haul weekend trip like that but I guess that's what you get when you're usename's PlaneHunter.  

Looking forward to the next installement!

Regards,
aflyingkiwi
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
Posts: 6512
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:40 pm

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 3):
Hi PH - wow, I was not expecting this. I did not suspect you were off on another longhaul flight so soon after your Dubai adventures? A very nice report - thanks for posting.

Hi Palmjet, thanks so much for your feedback!

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 3):
I work with a number of South Africans here in London who regularly fly SAA home ex LHR, and some of them have had some very poor experiences with food onboard SAA.

That sounds quite bad.

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 3):
The 340-600 looked good in the Star Alliance colours.

  

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 3):
I would love to do a day flight over Africa - I am sure when the weather is clear, the views must be stunning.

Absolutely, yes. I thought about that on the return flight - would be so nice to see the different landscapes down there.

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 3):
It's those times which I am reminded what an amazing place the world can be. Everything seems peaceful up there looking out the window.

I can only agree.

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 3):
Looking forward to the next parts of your report. Great stuff!!

Lots of work ahead...

Quoting fra-flyer (Reply 4):
thanks for the Report!

Thanks for your comments, David!

Quoting fra-flyer (Reply 4):
Since I flew with SAA more then 15 times, I can only say that you are right. SAA is definietly a very good Airline.

Good to hear you can confirm my impression.

Quoting fra-flyer (Reply 4):
I flew the same route this summer with the LH380.
Quoting fra-flyer (Reply 4):
Next time I´ll visit my South Africa I think i gonna choose SAA!

So you would prefer SAA's A346 over LH's A380? That's what I would do. I'll go into detail about that in the third part.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
Posts: 6512
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:50 pm

Quoting aflyingkiwi (Reply 5):
Brilliant report PH, complete with an array of fantastic pictures.

Hi aflyingkiwi, many thanks for your feedback, always appreciated! It seems we were posting at the same time.

Quoting aflyingkiwi (Reply 5):
. SAA's service looks very impressive, the food, the IFE & legroom all look absolutely amazing.

Yes, it's a true high-quality carrier.

Quoting aflyingkiwi (Reply 5):
Also congrats on getting on another special A346!

Thanks, that was luck once again!

Quoting aflyingkiwi (Reply 5):
BTW you do have some dedication to do a long-haul weekend trip like that but I guess that's what you get when you're usename's PlaneHunter.

  Well, usually I prefer to stay a bit longer, but sometimes it's not possible due to work.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
debonair
Posts: 2666
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:50 pm

Nice TR!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
but I could neither find an overly exciting westbound transatlantic flight nor really interesting domestic flights.



WHAT?! I am very disappointed... I know plenty- Kuwait Airways B777 LHR-JFK. Not exotic enough? What about BCN-ORD on PIA B777? Well, BIMAN might be start B747 LGW-JFK soon (depends on traffic rights).

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Then I added a Johannesburg-Durban flight and a Durban-Cape Town flight on two different carriers (details to follow).



Hope we will see here soon a TR on VELVET SKY!   
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
Posts: 6512
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:56 pm

Quoting debonair (Reply 8):
Nice TR!

Thanks!

Quoting debonair (Reply 8):
WHAT?! I am very disappointed... I know plenty- Kuwait Airways B777 LHR-JFK. Not exotic enough? What about BCN-ORD on PIA B777? Well, BIMAN might be start B747 LGW-JFK soon (depends on traffic rights).

Yes, they're all very exotic - PIA in particular. But I should have said "...exciting options for a reasonable price".

Quoting debonair (Reply 8):
Hope we will see here soon a TR on VELVET SKY!

Well, you'll get to see a Velvet Sky plane in the next report...but I chose to fly on two other carriers. Probably I'll be able to try Velvet Sky and a few other South African carriers in the future - I really want to go back there as soon as possible.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
The777Man
Posts: 5911
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 1999 4:54 am

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:05 pm

Hi PlaneHunter!

Thanks for an excellent report with fantastic pictures!

Very nice picture with the reflection of the aircraft in the building at FRA! The tail camera is a very nice feature! Too bad I have never seen that yet on a 777.

Meals look great; plenty of food and it looks very tasty too! Nice with Scwepppes ginger ale but too bad with the small cans. Great that they gave you two of those to compensate for the small size.

IFE looks a little bit dated but still sufficient.

I think the reason for being strict with seat belts is that sometimes there's a lot of turbulence going thru the tropics down to South Africa.

Nice pics from the observation deck where I spent about 4 or 5 hours when I was there in May 2007. Nice for you get so many new numbers there!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
1st flight on ZS-SNC
3rd A340-600 flight
14th A340 flight
116th airline

Very nice statistics especially 116th airline!

Looking forward to the next part! Thanks for splitting up the report in three parts as that make the pictures easier to load.

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
Posts: 6512
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:18 pm

Quoting The777Man (Reply 10):
Thanks for an excellent report with fantastic pictures!

Hi Lars, thanks a lot for your kind words!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 10):
Very nice picture with the reflection of the aircraft in the building at FRA!

Yes, I like that a lot. Unfortunately, it's not as sharp as it should be.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 10):
The tail camera is a very nice feature! Too bad I have never seen that yet on a 777.

I'm wondering why that feature has never been introduced on the 777 - shouldn't be too difficult from a technical point of view.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 10):
Meals look great; plenty of food and it looks very tasty too!

...and everything was kindly served.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 10):
Great that they gave you two of those to compensate for the small size.

  

Quoting The777Man (Reply 10):
I think the reason for being strict with seat belts is that sometimes there's a lot of turbulence going thru the tropics down to South Africa.

Could be a reason.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 10):
Nice pics from the observation deck where I spent about 4 or 5 hours when I was there in May 2007.

It's such a nice place for spotting, I loved it. That's why I immediately sent you a message after arriving there.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 10):
Nice for you get so many new numbers there!

Yes, and I'm also satisfied with the hunts at DUR and CPT.


PH

[Edited 2011-09-23 14:20:27]
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
FLIEGER67
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:28 pm

Hi, PH,

great stuff, well done.

For sure a pretty good evening read surrounded by nice pictures.

Neither been to Southafrica or on SAA, so much more interesting to follow for me.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
It wasn't easy to get clear shots of the screen, so I was constantly taking pictures during taxi. Judging from his look, an older man in the middle row found that quite strange. Sorry, but that's what it is when travelling on the same plane as PlaneHunter.

He know it the next time, definitely!
 

Looking for the next part now.

Best regards,
Markus(FLIEGER67)
Tripreporter.net
 
The777Man
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:30 pm

Hi again!

Forgot to mention that you had an interesting routing; right on the border between Tunisia and Libya. I think if things would have been normal in Libya, you would have flown straight over Tripoli......

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
South African Airways was named the best airline in Africa at the 2011 World Airline Awards. Justified or not? Probably.

I think so too and I can compare with ET, KQ and MS.

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:40 pm

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 12):
great stuff, well done.

For sure a pretty good evening read surrounded by nice pictures.

Hi Markus, thanks for your feedback!

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 12):
He know it the next time, definitely!

Yes, no doubt!  

Quoting The777Man (Reply 13):
Forgot to mention that you had an interesting routing; right on the border between Tunisia and Libya. I think if things would have been normal in Libya, you would have flown straight over Tripoli......

Yes, very likely.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 13):
I think so too and I can compare with ET, KQ and MS.

I have only tried MS and SW. Btw - MK was voted second best at the 2011 World Airline Awards.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
The777Man
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:47 pm

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 14):
Btw - MK was voted second best at the 2011 World Airline Awards.

Forgot; I flew MK as well but only a very short flight MRU-RUN so can't really compare.

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:53 pm

Quoting The777Man (Reply 15):
I flew MK as well but only a very short flight MRU-RUN so can't really compare.

Yes, I remember you told me about that once. What aircraft type did you have?


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
Ps76
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:22 pm

Hi!

Many thanks for the report. I see South African Airlines' planes all the time at Heathrow near where I live in the UK so was nice to read about how they are and good to read you had a good time. You had some really nice inflight pics above the clouds and everything. Sunrises at 30,000ft are always something quite unique.

Many thanks,

Pierre
 
joffie
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:31 pm

Great report. Enjoyed reading it. Whats with the BA 737 in JNB? I can see its got a South African Rego?
 
EL-AL
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:09 am

Hey PH,

Thx for another well written report. I must say that I'm not a night flights fan like you. Looks like SAA did good job, too bad they don't fly to TLV anyone.

Thx for shearing,

Jonathan
every day is a good day to fly
 
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:36 am

Hola PH!

Great reading in this dull and rainy morning.

Great to see that SAA delivers such a great product in Y.

Food, seat and IFE look very adequate and the charm of the crew you described seems to make really deserve the award of Best African Airline, probably not only Africa though; they seem to be quite above many European and American carriers as well.

Looking forward to reading the following ones.

Salut!

Roger
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Kaphias
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:05 am

Stunning pictures PH! Thanks very much for sharing, you're always an inspiration.  
Flown on: C150/172/206, DHC-2/3, AS350, J32, Q400, CR7/9, E135/40/45/75, DC9, A320, B732/4/7/8/9, 744, 752/3, 763, MD80
 
lychemsa
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:02 am

I am impressed. Not many airlines offer decent legroom, especially 33" ++ and a great meal in Y anymore. If they flew where I go I would pick them over US or European airlines.
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:45 am

Quoting Ps76 (Reply 17):
Many thanks for the report.

Hi Pierre, thanks for your feedback!

Quoting Ps76 (Reply 17):
You had some really nice inflight pics above the clouds and everything.

I'm glad that I chose to sit on the right side.

Quoting Ps76 (Reply 17):
Sunrises at 30,000ft are always something quite unique.

  

Quoting joffie (Reply 18):
Great report. Enjoyed reading it.

Thanks a lot, Brent! Good to hear that!

Quoting joffie (Reply 18):
Whats with the BA 737 in JNB? I can see its got a South African Rego?

Comair operates scheduled services on domestic trunk routes as a British Airways franchisee. More to follow about the airline and ZS-OTH in particular in the next part.

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 19):
Thx for another well written report.

Hi Jonathan, thanks for commenting!

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 19):
I must say that I'm not a night flights fan like you.

Actually I prefer daylights flights because I usually don't get much sleep on night flights. It was different this time, though.

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 19):
Looks like SAA did good job, too bad they don't fly to TLV anyone.

I remember they operated 767-200ERs to TLV.

Quoting ROGERBCN (Reply 20):
Great reading in this dull and rainy morning.

Hola Roger, muchas gracias!

Quoting ROGERBCN (Reply 20):
Food, seat and IFE look very adequate and the charm of the crew you described seems to make really deserve the award of Best African Airline, probably not only Africa though; they seem to be quite above many European and American carriers as well.

Yes, SAA easily beats most American and European carriers. I'd put it somewhere high up among the international top carriers.

Quoting Kaphias (Reply 21):
Stunning pictures PH! Thanks very much for sharing, you're always an inspiration.

Hi Kaphias, thank you very much, that's nice to hear!

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 22):
I am impressed. Not many airlines offer decent legroom, especially 33" ++ and a great meal in Y anymore. If they flew where I go I would pick them over US or European airlines.

Yes, SAA's product on the A346s and A343s is quite impressive. However, it seems pitch was reduced to 31-32 inch on the new A330-200s. More about that plane in the third part.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
reifel
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:49 am

Great report, SAA looks impressive! If they would update their interior it would be even better!
I m looking forward to the continuation of your trip!
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:57 am

Quoting reifel (Reply 24):
Great report, SAA looks impressive!

Thanks for commenting, Reifel!

Quoting reifel (Reply 24):
If they would update their interior it would be even better!

SAA has already switched to brighter colors, the cabin on the A332s looks very nice. Pictures to follow in part III.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
The777Man
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:13 am

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 16):
Quoting The777Man (Reply 15):
I flew MK as well but only a very short flight MRU-RUN so can't really compare.


Yes, I remember you told me about that once. What aircraft type did you have?

A319

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
tcasalert
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:22 am

Brilliant trip report, I loved the pictures. You're right, the winglet looks beautiful in SAA's colours, one of the best liveries out there IMO.

All that distance for a couple of days! You must be crazy  

Looking forward to the return report  
Next flight: Feb 2012 - BHX-CPH-BHX - SK MD87 / CRJ900
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:37 am

Quoting The777Man (Reply 26):
A319

Thanks for reminding me! I took a nice picture of an MK A319 at DUR, I will include it in the next part.

Quoting TCASAlert (Reply 27):
Brilliant trip report, I loved the pictures.

Many thanks, Noel! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting TCASAlert (Reply 27):
You're right, the winglet looks beautiful in SAA's colours, one of the best liveries out there IMO.

SAA's logo is great - but they could enhance the white fuselage a bit.

Quoting TCASAlert (Reply 27):
All that distance for a couple of days! You must be crazy

It was worth it. Well, it's my passion!  

Quoting TCASAlert (Reply 27):
Looking forward to the return report

There will be two more parts - too much stuff for one report.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
FlyingFinn76
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:06 am

Hi PH,

Another great report! SAA indeed looks very good, quite surprised really, somehow I did expect them to be quite average in economy at least!

I would love to see you post some details on the fares you paid for these trips, but if you prefer to keep those private it's fine.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Four days, three new airlines, three new airports, two four haulers and a brand new A330-200 - I was really looking forward to that short trip.

Now that's my kind of itinerary!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
but I had to wait because a cleaning lady was taking a picture of the plane with her mobile phone camera.

Hmm, that's interesting. Was she from Africa by any chance?  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Here it is, ZS-SNC, my favorite A340-600 in the SAA fleet - what a stunning bird:

Looking good! Really looking forward to my first flights onboard an A346 in a month's time, with LH.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The 17 inch wide Recaro seats were a bit hard, but still quite comfortable:

I quite like the look of those seats, and the fact that they are fabric. Don't like leather seats that much to be honest.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Two Russian speaking guys in the 40s were seated behind me and judging from their alcohol odor, they had already drunk too much...

Well, that's authentic Russian style for you!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Amenity kits in different colors were distributed, I got a beige/orange one:

Cure, amenity kits in economy. BTW I first misread the label of that toohpaste as "Afrodent"  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
What I had been looking forward in particular were the tail camera views on SAA's A340-600:

Wow, both longhaul flights in your itinerary were with planes equipped with these. So nice, and what great views as well!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Sorry, but that's what it is when travelling on the same plane as PlaneHunter.

... or pretty much anybody on this board!  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
"Springbok 261" almost ready for takeoff:

It would be REALLY cool if they had UA "Channel 9" type of feature onboard, that, combined with airshow and the tail camera = total bliss!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I ordered beef and got this highly impressive tray:

Looks good!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
No doubt, it was one of the best meals I have ever received in Economy Class.

Well done. Don't fly Tarom any time soon...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The small plane icon was still stuck in the top left corner:

Hmm, a nasty bug, it appears.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I'd opt for LAD in order to try TAAG's 77W:

Well, that's pretty much the only reason to head to such a place...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Everything else was fine - it was a large and filling breakfast. I also liked SAA's black tea, but it was served a bit late.

It looks quite good indeed. How were the crew - did they do drink runs all throughout the night or did you have to go to the galley or use the call button to get something?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The small sun on the winglet seemed to be rising as well - stunning views like these are one reason why I love flying so much:

Tell me about it...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Here's an Arik Air 737-800:

You don't see that in Europe very often!
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:38 am

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
Another great report!

Hi P.,

thanks for your feedback, always appreciated!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
SAA indeed looks very good, quite surprised really, somehow I did expect them to be quite average in economy at least!

Well, there has been a lack of consistency in terms of cabin equipment. You don't find PTVs on the A342s, for example.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
I would love to see you post some details on the fares you paid for these trips, but if you prefer to keep those private it's fine.

Check your mailbox in a while.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
Hmm, that's interesting. Was she from Africa by any chance?

Hm, I'd say no. Probably she simply liked the perspective in that moment.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
Really looking forward to my first flights onboard an A346 in a month's time, with LH.

I'm already looking forward to your reports, should be a great trip!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
Don't like leather seats that much to be honest.

Depending on the type, leather is fine on short flights, but I always prefer fabric seats on longer flights.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
BTW I first misread the label of that toohpaste as "Afrodent"

 

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
Wow, both longhaul flights in your itinerary were with planes equipped with these. So nice, and what great views as well!

Would be so nice to find these cameras on many more airlines/types.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
It would be REALLY cool if they had UA "Channel 9" type of feature onboard, that, combined with airshow and the tail camera = total bliss!

I can only agree.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
Don't fly Tarom any time soon...

Hm, they have really cheap fares to Dubai...seriously, I'd like to try Tarom one day, but not on a longer flight.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
Well, that's pretty much the only reason to head to such a place...

You're so right.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
How were the crew - did they do drink runs all throughout the night or did you have to go to the galley or use the call button to get something?

I didn't notice any drinks runs, but I was more or less asleep for five hours.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
You don't see that in Europe very often!

Arik Air flew 737NGs to LHR for a while, I'm not sure if they still do that. I saw 5N-MJN at LHR in March.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
signol
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:06 pm

Excellent report as usual, thanks! Especially as I travel to SA regularly (usually every year, twice this year). I've still yet to sample SAA though, except on domestic legs. My wife is from Durban, so that is our usual destination.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Then I added a Johannesburg-Durban flight and a Durban-Cape Town flight on two different carriers (details to follow)

I'm intrigued as to which carriers you chose. British Airways' franchise partner Comair, LCCs 1Time, Kulula or Mango, or the recent startup Velvet Sky (who only recently received their 2nd plane)..

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I only needed to book a room for one night at a Cape Town airport hotel.

It's probably too late, but the City Lodge just accross the car park is cheap, safe and comfortable  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
In-flight and shopping magazines:

For information, "Sawubona" is Zulu for "Hello".

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Now it was our turn. What a fantastic IFE feature:

I liked that on the AF A330 I went on last year  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I ordered beef and got this highly impressive tray:

That is an impressive meal!

Quoting joffie (Reply 18):
Whats with the BA 737 in JNB? I can see its got a South African Rego?

South African airline Comair operates domestic and regional flights as a franchise partner of BA. They also own the Kulula brand.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 29):
You don't see that in Europe very often!

There were a couple parked at NWI for about 6 months, before being moved. Apologies for the poor image:


signol
Flights booked: NWI-AMS-JNB-DUR, JNB-AMS-NWI
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:30 pm

Quoting signol (Reply 31):
Excellent report as usual, thanks!

Hi Signol, many thanks for your feedback!

Quoting signol (Reply 31):
Especially as I travel to SA regularly (usually every year, twice this year)

Very interesting.

Quoting signol (Reply 31):
I've still yet to sample SAA though, except on domestic legs. My wife is from Durban, so that is our usual destination.

You should give SAA a try in the future.

Quoting signol (Reply 31):
I'm intrigued as to which carriers you chose. British Airways' franchise partner Comair, LCCs 1Time, Kulula or Mango, or the recent startup Velvet Sky (who only recently received their 2nd plane)..

I decided to try BA/Comair on that route.

Quoting signol (Reply 31):
It's probably too late, but the City Lodge just accross the car park is cheap, safe and comfortable

Yes, that one was my choice.

Quoting signol (Reply 31):
For information, "Sawubona" is Zulu for "Hello".

Thanks!

Quoting signol (Reply 31):
I liked that on the AF A330 I went on last year

Camera views on AF's A330? I hadn't heard about that yet.

Quoting signol (Reply 31):
There were a couple parked at NWI for about 6 months, before being moved. Apologies for the poor image:

I think one retired 733 is still stored there, another one at SEN.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
thegivenone
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:58 pm

Awesome, awesome!

I have been wanting to read an SAA economy trip report for a long time. I'm glad to hear that you had a good trip and that SAA is still up to standard.
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:07 pm

Quoting thegivenone (Reply 33):
Awesome, awesome!
Quoting thegivenone (Reply 33):
I have been wanting to read an SAA economy trip report for a long time.

Thanks a lot! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting thegivenone (Reply 33):
I'm glad to hear that you had a good trip and that SAA is still up to standard.

Things get even better in terms of hardware once the A342s are retired.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
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OA260
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:41 pm

Great report   Love the meals served much better than I thought they would offer. Some great pics also especially the sun rise and the wing shot  

Thanks for the enjoyable read.

Regards

Philip  
 
atrude777
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:49 pm

Excellent Report! I read just about every single word!

I enjoyed the pictures too. The Seat and Cabin comfort looked very nice for SAA. The desire to fly an Airbus A346 gets stronger and stronger each time I see one.

I just love the beauty of the A346 and the length as well.

Alex
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
FlyKev
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sun Sep 25, 2011 12:38 am

Another enjoyable read, thanks for sharing with us Plane Hunter.

The food looks very good, and the IFE looks adequate; although the external cameras obviously make for a great addition.

As always, I look forward to reading about your next adventure.

Kev.
The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:29 am

Quoting OA260 (Reply 35):
Great report. Some great pics also especially the sun rise and the wing shot
Quoting OA260 (Reply 35):
Thanks for the enjoyable read.

Hi Phil, thanks a lot, I'm glad to hear that!

Quoting OA260 (Reply 35):
Love the meals served much better than I thought they would offer.

Yes, I was really surprised by the catering.

Quoting atrude777 (Reply 36):
Excellent Report! I read just about every single word!
Quoting atrude777 (Reply 36):
I enjoyed the pictures too.

Many thanks, Alex!

Quoting atrude777 (Reply 36):
The desire to fly an Airbus A346 gets stronger and stronger each time I see one.

You should book a flight on that awesome plane!

Quoting atrude777 (Reply 36):
I just love the beauty of the A346 and the length as well.

I can only agree.

Quoting FlyKev (Reply 37):
Another enjoyable read, thanks for sharing with us Plane Hunter.

Hi Kev, thank you very much for your feedback, always appreciated!

Quoting FlyKev (Reply 37):

The food looks very good, and the IFE looks adequate; although the external cameras obviously make for a great addition.

These cameras turn a good flight into a great one!


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
abrelosojos
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:34 am

What a fantastic report - wasn't expecting you to go to SA! A pretty glowing and positive endorsement for SAA. Hope they can maintain it.

Thanks for writing.

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
ronerone
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:29 pm

Wow, what a fantastic read PlaneHunter. I have been waiting for this, because i have always been a 'fan' of South African Airways (haven't flown with them before though). Their livery is so simple, yet so attractive with that amazing tail!

Your experience seemed top notch! From the spotless state of the cabin during boarding, to seat comfort and meals, and even the nice touch of announcing a passenger's birthday on board etc. A great product all around! I am really impressed!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Operating carriers: Lufthansa (A380), Lufthansa CityLine (CRJ700 and Embraer 190) and South African Airways (A330-200 and A340-600). Then I added a Johannesburg-Durban flight and a Durban-Cape Town flight on two different carriers (details to follow). Since I would spend two nights on the plane, I only needed to book a room for one night at a Cape Town airport hotel. Four days, three new airlines, three new airports, two four haulers and a brand new A330-200 - I was really looking forward to that short trip.

What a perfect weekend  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
ZS-SNC was delivered in February 2003 and painted in Star Alliance colors in January 2006. It's currently the world's one and only A340-500/600 wearing the Star Alliance paint scheme:

If SAA had asked me in advance which frame in the 9-strong A340-600 fleet I'd like to get, I would have demanded exactly that one. I couldn't get enough of it:

What luck you have! Impresses me each time!  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The interior was in good condition - and had been cleaned well:

It is indeed in a perfect condition!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
What I found very nice was an announcement about the 60th birthday of a passenger. The flight attendant, most likely the purser, wished all the best on behalf of the crew - I guess the very passenger was quite happy about that special congratulation.

Very nice touch!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Sorry, but that's what it is when travelling on the same plane as PlaneHunter. Wink

Nice one   This happens to me all the time!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Some moments later, the four Rolls-Royce Trent 556 powerplants started howling and ZS-SNC lifted off gently after a long takeoff roll. Simply awesome view:

Indeed, what an amazing view of that long fuselage (finally) lifting off!  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I ordered beef and got this highly impressive tray:
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I ordered the latter, of course. The presentation was very nice again:

These are J class quality meals on Y class trays! Very impressive!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Brazzaville, Kinshasa, Luanda? I'd opt for LAD in order to try TAAG's 77W:

TAAG's 77W does Luanda - Dubai  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I really enjoyed hanging around there - I was able to log registrations of most arriving and departing planes, all these interesting movements kept me very busy:

I was in that same spot last year too. That area on the tarmac can get really busy in the afternoon with heavies like Kenya Airways, Cathay, Iberia, Etihad, Air Seychelles, Air Austral, TAAG, and so on. Amazing!


Many thanks for sharing this with us! Looking forward to more  

Cheers,
Roni
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.
 
robso2
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:51 pm

Great TR again PlaneHunter, thanks for posting as usual. Look forward to the rest!
733/4/5/6/7/8/9, 319/20/21, 752, 744, 772/W, 332/3, 343/6, E70/90, AT43, AR85/1, D38, D10, M82
 
ba319-131
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Sun Sep 25, 2011 5:12 pm

Great report PH, thanks for sharing.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Since I would spend two nights on the plane, I only needed to book a room for one night at a Cape Town airport hotel. Four days, three new airlines, three new airports, two four haulers and a brand new A330-200 - I was really looking forward to that short trip.

- Great short trip and cheaper due to the lack of hotels needed!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
even though I had already flown on LH's A380, I didn't mind doing so again - actually I was even curious to find out how comfortable it would be on a 10 hour flight.

- Indeed, I did the FRA-JNB route with this machine, a very nice flight, interesting to see how you get on.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
SAA provides a generous 33.5 inch pitch on the A340-600

- The 343 is the same, sure makes for a more pleasant flight! - shame the 342's did not offer this, that was a painful experience!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The aisle seat next to me remained empty for a long time...and luckily that wouldn't change any more. I was glad when I heard that boarding had been completed.

- Result!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The flight attendants were really serious about safety, they even closed the seatbelt over blanket and pillow on the empty aisle seat next to me.

- They did this on both of my flights, must be standard @ SAA, not seen this elsewhere.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I ordered beef and got this highly impressive tray:

- That's a much better looking meal than I got on the CPT-LHR route.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Breakfast was served 1.5 hours before landing. There was a choice between continental and hot breakfast - I ordered the latter, of course. The presentation was very nice again:

- Again, a much better meal than I got served on SAA.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The facility is not suited for photographers - as clearly visible on the next two pictures - but excellent for registration spotting:

- Indeed, great for registrations, I made loads when there!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I didn't have enough time to visit the observation deck on the domestic terminal

- Don't worry, this was the best place for spotting.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I wouldn't hesitate to take a SAA long-haul flight again, but I wouldn't want to get on the remaining A340-200s (to be retired later this year)

- Not unless you need to fly the -200.

Rgds

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
 
MSS658
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:01 am

Hi PH


SAA was a term that I did not hear that much about yet... This fantastic report shows how good SAA really is.
Seems like SAA does have a decent product out there. Good seating and good meals, what more can one want

Looking forward to the next


Greetings
Marc
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
 
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eastafspot
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:19 am

Hi,

PH in Sub-Sahara Africa? hum, that sounds very nice indeed!   


Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The small plane icon was still stuck in the top left corner:

well, you know how is Aviation in DRC...  

Well, I can't say if they the best, but your report shows an attractive side of SAA, everything seems at a high standard, especially the hot breakfast.

Did the guy seated next to you asked any questions

Eagerly waiting for the next journey.

[Edited 2011-09-26 02:21:17]
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
 
sultanils
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:49 am

Hi PH,

I very much enjoyed this trip report. SAA is not too much featured here, so very warm welcomed. Good to see it's Y class is pretty decent. Good meals with a nice presentation, delivered by pleasant F/A's; what more do you need? Guess this must've been a tiring trip, spending 2 nights on a plane?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Four days, three new airlines, three new airports, two four haulers and a brand new A330-200 - I was really looking forward to that short trip.

Impressive lineup for a weekend trip.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Here it is, ZS-SNC, my favorite A340-600 in the SAA fleet - what a stunning bird:

Indeed. With a A346 you cannot go wrong and especially this one in the *A colors looks magnificent.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
SAA provides a generous 33.5 inch pitch

Very generous. Wouldn't mind spending an overnight there with that generous legroom.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
"Springbok 261"

I like that callsign!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Brazzaville, Kinshasa, Luanda? I'd opt for LAD in order to try TAAG's 77W:

Excellent choice! Do they operate to FRA?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Bright sunlight flooding the cabin:

No mood lighting on this one?

Sultanils
In thrust we trust.
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:07 pm

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
What a fantastic report - wasn't expecting you to go to SA!

Hi Alex, many thanks for your feedback! Good to hear from you.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
Hope they can maintain it.

That's what I hope, too.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 40):
Wow, what a fantastic read PlaneHunter.

Hi Roni, thanks so much for your nice comments!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 40):
. I have been waiting for this, because i have always been a 'fan' of South African Airways (haven't flown with them before though).

You should try SAA one day!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 40):
Your experience seemed top notch! From the spotless state of the cabin during boarding, to seat comfort and meals, and even the nice touch of announcing a passenger's birthday on board etc. A great product all around! I am really impressed!

There's not much to improve.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 40):
What luck you have! Impresses me each time!

Well, I can't complain.  

Quoting ronerone (Reply 40):
Indeed, what an amazing view of that long fuselage (finally) lifting off!

  

Quoting ronerone (Reply 40):
These are J class quality meals on Y class trays!

Yes, very impressive for Y Class.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 40):
TAAG's 77W does Luanda - Dubai

Interesting, would be a nice flight. However, I'd prefer a 5th freedom flight...

Quoting ronerone (Reply 40):
I was in that same spot last year too. That area on the tarmac can get really busy in the afternoon with heavies like Kenya Airways, Cathay, Iberia, Etihad, Air Seychelles, Air Austral, TAAG, and so on. Amazing!

Yes, it's a great place. I really need to go there again.

Quoting robso2 (Reply 41):
Great TR again PlaneHunter, thanks for posting as usual. Look forward to the rest!

Many thanks, robso2! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 42):
Great report PH, thanks for sharing.

Hi Mark, thanks a lot for your feedback!

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 42):
Great short trip and cheaper due to the lack of hotels needed!

Yes, hotels can be expensive when travelling alone.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 42):
Indeed, I did the FRA-JNB route with this machine, a very nice flight, interesting to see how you get on.

Yes, I remember your nice report. I found the SAA A346 more comfortable than LH's A380 - details to follow.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 42):
That's a much better looking meal than I got on the CPT-LHR route.
Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 42):
Again, a much better meal than I got served on SAA.

That's quite odd - the catering should be somehow consistent.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 42):
Indeed, great for registrations, I made loads when there!

I need to go there again.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 42):
Don't worry, this was the best place for spotting.

Alright, good to know.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 42):
Not unless you need to fly the -200.

Yes, of course!

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 43):
SAA was a term that I did not hear that much about yet... This fantastic report shows how good SAA really is.

Hi Marc, thanks for your feedback! Good to hear you liked it.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 43):
Seems like SAA does have a decent product out there. Good seating and good meals, what more can one want

Menu cards, mood lighting...no, seriously, SAA offers a great product on the A346.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 44):
PH in Sub-Sahara Africa? hum, that sounds very nice indeed!

Hi Léonard, thanks for your reply!

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 44):
well, you know how is Aviation in DRC...

 

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 44):
Did the guy seated next to you asked any questions

No, he didn't.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 44):
Well, I can't say if they the best, but your report shows an attractive side of SAA, everything seems at a high standard, especially the hot breakfast.

Yes, it's a very competitive product.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 45):
I very much enjoyed this trip report. SAA is not too much featured here, so very warm welcomed.

Thanks for your comments, Nils!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 45):
Good to see it's Y class is pretty decent. Good meals with a nice presentation, delivered by pleasant F/A's; what more do you need?

There's not much to improve.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 45):
Guess this must've been a tiring trip, spending 2 nights on a plane?

Yes, I can confirm that.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 45):
I like that callsign!

It's one of my favorites.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 45):
Excellent choice! Do they operate to FRA?

No, LIS is the one and only European destination.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 45):
No mood lighting on this one?

No, unfortunately.


PH

[Edited 2011-09-26 11:09:50]
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
Flightsimboy
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:41 pm

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
First of all, I booked Nuremberg-Frankfurt-Johannesburg (departure on Saturday) and Cape-Town-Johannesburg-Frankfurt-Nuremberg (arrival on Tuesday) on Cheap Tickets. Operating carriers: Lufthansa (A380), Lufthansa CityLine (CRJ700 and Embraer 190) and South African Airways (A330-200 and A340-600).

Looking forward to the reports and the SA A332. (And LH A380).

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Airbus A340-642
ZS-SNC (MSN 426)
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
was watching out for my SAA A340-600 which would be a special one as I had found out on ACARS in the morning.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
ZS-SNC was delivered in February 2003 and painted in Star Alliance colors in January 2006. It's currently the world's one and only A340-500/600 wearing the Star Alliance paint scheme:
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Finally, it was my turn. Here it is, ZS-SNC, my favorite A340-600 in the SAA fleet - what a stunning bird:
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
If SAA had asked me in advance which frame in the 9-strong A340-600 fleet I'd like to get, I would have demanded exactly that one. I couldn't get enough of it:

I cannot believe how fortunate you were to fly on this magnificent colour scheme on the Airbus A340-600!!! And that too the one and only A340-600 still in the Star Alliance colours!! I can go on and on, but you know how excited I am you got to fly on this special bird! Very surprising though that none of the Airbus A340-600s have been christened with names unlike some of their Boeing 747-400s

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
There was no need to rush on departure day, because I had already conveniently checked in online for both the NUE-FRA and the FRA-JNB flights on the evening before. Actually I had even pre-reserved my seats on all three widebody flights shortly after booking. I had simply called SAA's office in Frankfurt and a female agent had blocked the desired seats for me.

Does SA otherwise allow you to only book seats online 24 hours before departure, like some airlines, considering you had to call in well in advance. Etihad and Emirates allow you to book your seats online as soon as you make your reservation. However you can only check in online 24 hours before, which is standard with all carriers now allowing checking in online.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
This was my third A340-600 now - and for the third time it turned out to be a special one. My first A340-600 had been Lufthansa's oldest frame (D-AIHA) and my second one had been Virgin's G-VGOA, the oldest A340-600 in commercial service. What comes next?

Not only have you flown the Airbus A340-600 three times on three different airlines, but you get the privilige of being on some of the oldest birds around. LH, VS and SA...very impressive. Are you looking to get on board an IB, TG, EY or a Hainan A346 sometime soon, while you are currently on an Airbus A340-600 frenzy!!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Finally, I arrived at my row in the very back of the world's longest plane in commercial service.

Must have been quite the walk, eh? lol

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The interior was in good condition - and had been cleaned well:

Good German aircraft handling and cleaning agents!!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
SAA's winglets definitely belong to the prettiest ones in the industry, just like Virgin Atlantic's:

Any winglet on an Airbus A330 or A340 aircraft is pretty....Period!! Of course the winglets on the A340-500s and -600s with those gorgeous Rolls Royce Trent 500s are to die for!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The flight attendants were really serious about safety, they even closed the seatbelt over blanket and pillow on the empty aisle seat next to me.

Why would they do that? I don't think I've seen FAs do that on board an aircraft.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
What I had been looking forward in particular were the tail camera views on SAA's A340-600:

Now isn't the view of the A346 so much nicer than that bulky A380 lol.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Some moments later, the four Rolls-Royce Trent 556 powerplants started howling and ZS-SNC lifted off gently after a long takeoff roll.

Yes that is one thing about Airbus A340s they take forever to get off the ground. And even the climb is much slower. In this regard I have to say Boeing 777s rocket up to their crusing altitudes a lot faster! But then as far as gorgeous views with winglets, they unfortunately have none to offer.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I was really surprised that an African carrier was serving German classics such as "Rinderbraten" (braised beef), "Semmelknödel" (bread dumplings) and potato salad. I usually love to eat these specialties and was a bit skeptic how this airline meal would turn out. The presentation was great - there was even parsley on the dumplings - but how would it taste? Tender meat, crisp vegetable, dumplings with "right bite" - apart from the bland sauce, the main course tasted very good. The potato salad tasted fine as well - and the cherry cheesecake was the perfect finish. No doubt, it was one of the best meals I have ever received in Economy Class.

Glad you found the food up to your standard, and that too the German offerings. Looks like SA did very well in this area. Nice amenity kits too.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The small sun on the winglet seemed to be rising as well - stunning views like these are one reason why I love flying so much:

And I do hope it encourages you to take more A340-600 flights, perhaps flights on EY A346s (or A345)!! I've flown twice on EY and have not been so lucky to get an offering on those magnificent birds.
 
deltamartin
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:04 pm

Hi PH!

Nice tripreport, well written and great pictures!

SAA seemed nice, the meal looks great! The seat looks comfortable and the legroom seems nice. I can understand why you had such a nice flight!  

I really like the pictures during approach to JNB.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Here it is, ZS-SNC, my favorite A340-600 in the SAA fleet - what a stunning bird:

Beautiful. And as you mentioned later, the winglet sure is looking good.

Looking forward to the next part.

Martin
 
lukeyboy95
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RE: Africa's Best Airline? FRA-JNB On SAA A340-600

Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:43 pm

Hi PH,

Really nice and unexpected SA Linhas Aereas">TR there. To be honest, I am still struggling to believe it was just SAA i read about. I mean it really is an airline that has a pretty piss-poor PR department. I felt it got left behind somewhere whilst all the other carriers modernised and adapted within the industry. And it is dogged by scandals and such sorts...

For those reasons, I was delighted to see that you had such a pleasant flight. Everything seemed to be in check, good mainline brand usage but no as intense as Virgin! Good to see quality ginger ale. I am right in observing you never take a tipple whilst flying?

I just spent an extended period out in SA, so will be really excited to see your other reports on this colourful country. Hurrah.

Luke!
Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one

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