Flight Review: South African Airways A340 In Business Class


In January 2017, we flew Business Class in an Airbus A340-600 of South African Airways (SAA) from Cape Town International Airport (CPT) to Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in South Africa. For comparison, you can read our other South African Airways Business Class flight reviews.

South African Airways is the flag carrier and largest airline of South Africa. It operates a fleet of more than 50 aircraft, including 9 Airbus A340-600 planes. The flight duration from CPT to JNB was less than 2 hours. The Business Class cabin looks a bit dated, although the fully flatbed seat was still very comfortable (with plenty of space for your legs). Unfortunately, the food on this flight was horrible. SAA has recently introduced a new product (which looks stunning), but so far, it is only available on its newly delivered A330-300 aircraft.

We have reviewed the South African Airways Business Class Lounge in Cape Town separately.

Business Class Cabin Review

SAA recently introduced a new Business Class, but that product is currently only available on the carrier’s newly delivered A330-300 planes. The A340-600 on this particular flight still featured SSA’s old Business Class seats. SAA’s A340-600 Business Class is located in one large cabin in front of the plane. There are 42 seats in total, spread across seven rows in a classic 2-2-2 configuration. All seats face forward, and except for the window seats, all seats have direct aisle access. The cabin’s layout and design look dated when compared to the current Business Class standards, although the fully flatbed seats offer plenty of space for your legs.

Click here for a seat map of SAA’s A340-600.

Business Class Seat And Which Seat Is Best
I had pre-booked seat 6K, located in the back of the cabin, along the window.

The seat itself, covered in blue leather, has a pitch of 73 inch (185 cm) and a width of 23,7 inch (60 cm). One armrest holds the rather small tray table, which needs to be pulled out manually. The other armrest features a table shared with the adjoining seat. It can be extended using another hidden table located below the armrest’s surface (perfect when you want to have a drink during the flight without having to pull out the tray table). Behind that small table surface, you find a panel with the seat controls that can be used to adjust the seat position or activate the built-in massage unit. The disappointingly small entertainment screen is located in a compartment below the center armrest and needs to be pulled out and tilted towards you. There’s also a (very) small divider between two adjoining seats that can be raised for added privacy if you end up being seated next to a stranger.

The seat lacks proper storage space, although there are a few compartments around the seat that can store your stuff during the flight. The back of the seat in front of you has two pockets, one of them containing the inflight magazine and safety card. In addition to these two seatback pockets, there are also two cubbies in the back of the two adjoining seats in front of you, which are great for storing your glasses, wallet, or smartphone. At the bottom of the seat in front of you is also a small locker, which can be used to store your shoes.

At the touch of a button, the seat converts into a generous flatbed.

What are the best Business Class seats on SAA A340-600?

All seats in the cabin, except for the first and last row, are quite good, especially for couples.
There are a number of worst Business Class seats on SAA A340-600. Which seat is the worst? Well, the 2-2-2 Business Class layout does not make the cabin very attractive for solo travelers since you will always end up sitting next to a stranger. There is a small screen though between seats that can be raised for added privacy.

Window seats don’t offer direct aisle access. Passengers seated in the first row may be bothered by the galley’s noise and passengers going to or returning from the lavatories. I also suggest avoiding the last row of Business Class, which is close to the Economy bassinet seats.

Food Review On South African Airways A340-600

Although I did not expect much from the food, given the short duration of the flight, I was utterly disappointed by the meal I received, especially from the national carrier of a country that is renowned all over the globe for its delicious cuisine. The meal consisted of a sandwich with chicken and a bad tasting mayonnaise, a poor salad, and a brownie. The taste and the presentation of the meal were unappetizing and not acceptable for Business Class (nor Economy Class). Bad points for SAA!

Inflight Entertainment

SAA states the following on its website: “Thanks to our on-demand inflight entertainment system, boredom is not an option on SAA. With over 100 movies to enjoy, up to 100 TV features including series, comedy, and kids programming. 170 audio albums, 14 radio channels, and 15 games, there’s plenty to choose from”. Unfortunately, none of that was available during the short flight, so I assume they only offer inflight entertainment on their long-haul flights. The only two features I had access to on our small screen with bad resolution were an old-fashioned flight map and the view from a tail camera.

Staff On South African Airways

The South African crew on this flight were lovely, professional, and made time to have a chat with most passengers in Business Class. I admit that I am in love with South Africa and its people, so I am very biased, but I would fly SAA again in a heartbeat, simply because of its wonderful crew.

Other Inflight Offerings

Amenities were not provided on this short flight.

The SAA A340-600 does not have an onboard walk-up bar.

SAA currently does not offer Wi-Fi on its fleet.

This review was written by our friends at The Luxury Travel Expert.