Choosing an Airline in South Africa

Booked to fly SAA for the first time in April, 2012 from Perth, Australia to Johannesburg on one of their Airbus A340-300s. My seat request is in the emergency exit. Anyone flown with SAA? Any advice? Tips?

Also, I am doing a couple of internal flights. The logical thing would be to fly British Airways because I geta map of the south africa lounge access, points etc but I am also curious to try the other airlines too. How come South Africa has six domestic airlines playing between major cities? Maybe I could spend one day just flying them all?!!!


“one time!”, is a South African expression meaning “for real!). The airline’s slogan is  More Nice -Less Price. They have very colourful  MD82s, 83s and 87s.

British Airways/Comair

Flying since 1948, Commercial Air Services became Comair. In 1996 the British Airways name, logo and colours were adopted when it started a franchise arrangement with the UK carrier who owns 18 per cent. Mostly 737s with two ATRs



a green airplane in a hangar

Means “Its Easy” in Zulu Owned by Comair, it has operated for ten years and  has some of the best decorated 737s in the world (see flying 101 here)



Slogan: Easy on the Pocket, Easy on You

This airline is owned by South African Airlines and has operated for five years.

Their entire fleet is made up of 737-800s leased from their parent company.

South African Airways

Member of Star Alliance. South Africa’s biggest and oldest airline. Domestic fleet mostly 737s?


Velvet Sky

a jet plane on the runwaySlogan is : Be Blown Away (that worries me!)

South Africa’s newest airline with the oldest fleet (one plane is 23 years old)

Velvet Sky states that it is South Africa’s first 100% Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment airline company. This would appeal to me to support them..





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  1. We flew BA on 2 internal flights in SA this past October and had great service, and decent food ( even on the short flight between Joburg and PLZ ).

  2. I really liked SA. The flight from Aus was SA code share on Quantas. Liked Quantas. But in South Africa the hard and soft products on SA short hops were just fine. I even liked the girls when arranging travel on the phone – down to earth.

  3. Ps if you ever fly the unsavory part of the world were no one will go. It’s south Africans who fly and FA the planes. Unfazable.

  4. I flew SAA business from Frankfurt to Cape Town, and then JoBurg to Frankfurt. This was in 2008. They were A#1. No complaints. Excellent service, lovely amenity kit, comfortable seats and delicious food. Don’t remember the video selections/service or the aircraft, sorry.

  5. SAA is excellent in C but so-so in Y. Check out FlyerTalk for specifics but then, if you have a travel blog, you should know that.

  6. For your internal flights, I would book on SA or BA, as they have the most frequency and good service. In irregular ops, this will help you. Kulula and Mango are ok, but definitely less frequencies and less service.

    Friends of mine who live in Jo’burg flew 1time once and said it was awful, and after that experience understand why it’s called 1time, because after flying them once you never want to do it again.

  7. I fly SAA economy JKF-JNB-CPT (A340 both routes)and a later CPT-JNB(737) flight. The seats were a little tight for me being a bigger guy and the 17hr flight seemed a lot longer with someone in teh seat next to me. The food was decent on the international flight, service was comparable to most carriers with nothing outstanding, and the inflight entertainment was AVOD in the seatback. Very good selection of TV and movies which helped to keep me occupied.

    My flight to CPT was nice on the widebody and the food was better, probably since it was catered locally versus in NY. The return to JNB was more of a cattle car with no other amenities on the flight.

  8. Great service on SAA. Have flown 1time and Kulula in 2006, no issues. I do prefer newer planes over the MD-82 though.

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