South African A330 Business Class Review

This flight was part of our 3 day business class adventure. This segment was part of an award ticket that took us from Southern Africa to South America for only 45,000 United miles! I was particularly excited for this flight because it was going to feature South African’s newest Business Class product. We flew South African from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo. I took way too long to write this review; I’ll be doing my best to remember all of the details!

The Lounge

Upon getting to the lounge, the agents at the front desk were on their phones and did not want to help us and check us in. This was the first sign of the service we would be getting for the next 12ish hours.

The South African Business Class lounge in Johannesburg is pretty decent. What stood out was how massive the lounge is. It felt like I had to walk a few minutes to reach the bathroom. We were there during breakfast hours. They had standard breakfast items such as scrambled eggs, bacon, and beans. The food was okay.

The Seat

The business class cabin was absolutely gorgeous. I loved the red, brown, and grey tones used throughout the cabin. I thought the zebra print at the back of the cabin was pretty cool! This was a very similar seat to the one that SAS and Qantas use.

South African Business Class Cabin
If you are a pretty tall person, you may be a little cramped in these seats (I was). I would suggest trying to go for a bulkhead seat. The bulkhead seats in the Business Class cabins are in row 1 and 9. It looked like there was much more legroom in these seats.

South African Bulkhead Business Class Legroom (Row 1)
If you are traveling with someone, I suggest picking middle seats (D and G are the middle seats in each row). If you are traveling alone, I suggest picking 2A, 2K, 4A, 4K, 6A, 6K, 8A, 8K, 9A, 9K, 11A, or 11K. These seats are window seats, but have the seat closer to the window and they have your table in between your seat and the aisle giving you a little more privacy.

It was super hard to find a seat map for this new business class so I’ll post it here.

South African A330 New Business Class Layout

The Service/Food

The service started pretty good. We were offered champagne or orange juice before take off. We opted for some champagne this time!

Shortly after takeoff, the meal service began. I don’t remember too much of the details of the meal service. I know I had the beef dish and Brit had the chicken dish. Neither of these dishes were very good.

After the meal service, the service was absolutely horrid. This was the worst service I have ever received in Business Class. We were both very thirsty hours into the flight and wanted some water. I don’t think that any crew member even walked through the cabin for the remainder of the flight (about 7 hours). We decided we had to press the flight attendant call button, something we hate to do! After we pushed the button and the flight attendants finally came, they seemed super annoyed with us. The only time they did come into the cabin was to get stuff from their personal bags in the overhead bins. They did this for the entire flight. It felt like every 20 minutes; it was absurd. They did not care about any passenger in the cabin; they only cared about whatever they were doing, wherever they were.

We got a good laugh when we saw a business man take the service survey on the inflight entertainment system. He proceeded to give the worst rating for every single question the survey asked him. I don’t blame him. He probably paid thousands of dollars for this ticket. At least we only paid a few thousand miles. The beauty of miles and points!


This was a fantastic deal to fly from Southern Africa to South America for only 45,000 United miles. South African is the only Star Alliance carrier that flies directly between these two regions to take advantage of this sweet spot in United’s award chart. If I was flying between these two regions again, I’d for sure use this sweet spot and fly South African again.

That being said, under no other circumstance would I choose to fly with South African again. The service was absolutely abysmal – the worst we have ever had. The food was also nothing to write home about. The only positives were that the cabin was gorgeous and that the seat was pretty nice. However, those positives don’t come remotely close to making up for the horrid service.

Have you flown South African before? Did you feel the same way?

1 Comment

  1. Janice says: Reply

    I’m so happy the experiences you booked for us on points was much better!!

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