Review: South African Airways SA204 Business Class A340 New York JFK to Johannesburg JNB

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New York JFK – Johannesburg JNB
DEP 10:40 A.M ARR 8:20 A.M
Duration: 14hrs 50m
Seat number: 6D
Aircraft: SA204 Airbus 340
Miles Redeemed: 75,000 Aeroplan Miles + $20.90 (Aeroplan miles transferred from Amex at 1:1 ratio and instant transfer)

Alternative Miles Program: 

  • Alaska Mileage: 70,000 miles via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific
  • United MileagePlus: 80,000 miles for Star Alliance/Partner Award
Getting to South Africa from the United States is very far. The direct flight from New York to Johannesburg takes almost 15 hours long. I was very fortunate to fly Business Class with South African Airways and that made the journey more comfortable. 
The seats configurations of 2-2-2 makes the cabin little bit more narrow and less privacy. Flight crew were a little bit out of reach and food were just alright. The only complain I have is the TV monitor in my seat that is too small with a really bad resolution. Regardless, the seat pad for sleeping when the seat turns into a lie-flat bed position was very comfortable. That made the 15 hours trip more enjoyable, and I honestly did not want to leave the “bed.”


I was early because I was excited to experience South African Airways Business Class. There was no line in the Business Class lane, so I was able to check in and received my boarding pass pretty quick. The check-in agent wasn’t the friendliest agent that I have met, and the SWISS (LX) Lounge at New York JFK Terminal 4 was also pretty disappointing. When it was time for boarding, I headed to the gate and started the boarding process with other passengers.

South African Airways Business Class Seats

As I entered the Business Class cabin, I was in love with each seat that has a shape like a pod with plenty of leg room. I was very excited to get into my assigned seat 6D that I totally forgot all about where I was heading to. There are 42 forward-facing flat bed Business Class seats with the configuration of 2-2-2. I specifically picked one of the seats in the middle so that each seat has aisle access.  After settling down, I started to realize that the cabin has narrow feel to it and thus each seat lacks privacy.

As I continued to check out the seat, there’s a seat control in between seats that turns the seat into a cradle or a lie-flat bed. Splendid! There’s no USB plugin for charging mobile devices and no Wi-Fi on-board. Also, TV monitor is accessible only from the seat and it’s really tiny. The resolution is also pretty low so I did not watch any movies or shows because the image quality was really poor.

South African Airways Business Class Seats

A Lot of Leg Room
South African Airways Business Class Cabin

Seat Controls for Cradle or Flat Bed

Lousy TV Monitor

Amenity Kit

After checking out the seat, the amenity kit inside a beautiful designed pouch caught my eyes. I anxiously opened up the pouch and found socks, eye mask, lotion, comb, toothbrush along with toothpaste and floss. It is also worth mentioning that no pajamas was provided.

Amenity Kit

Drinks & Food
As much as I wanted to enjoy drinking on the flight, I did not try any wines that were offered to me. Instead, I only ordered the Smirnoff Vodka and mixed it with coke to go with the pre-meal snacks that consists of cucumber with chicken and small vegetables, mushroom with couscous, and one good size shrimp. It was pretty interesting to say the least, but in a good way. 

Interesting Snacks and Smirnoff Vodka + Coke

Just as I began feeling hungry, a flight attendant presented the food menu that contains lunch and breakfast menu. The lunch menu includes appetizer, main course and dessert. For appetizer I ordered the Smoke Salmon Rosette and for my main course I ordered Sous-Vide Beef Rib. As the flight attendant continued serving meal, I decided to skip the cheese plate as I was so full then, but I could not say no to the sweets of cheesecake as dessert. 
One thing that I do want to mention too is about the bread. I remember other airlines serve bread during entire meal time, but my experience with South African Airways was different. They served bread only once during the appetizer time. So if you like bread, be sure to get more while you can or ask for more over the course of meal.
Overall, if I have to rank the South African Airways’s food in Business Class, I’d give it 3 out of 5 with 5 being the best. 


Main Course


Lie-Flat Bed
After feeling full, I made my way to the lavatory to freshen up and then got back into my assigned seat. I used the seat control to turn my seat into a lie-flat bed position. I then made the bed myself by putting the pillow and the pad on top of the bed. I put on the eye mask and decided to snooze away. The pad was super comfortable that I fell asleep right away until breakfast time.

South African Airways Business Class Seat Turns Into Flat Bed

Before Landing & Breakfast
I lost track of the time for how long I slept during the flight. When I was awake, the flight attendants were already preparing to serve breakfast. Great timing on my side. When the flight attendant came to take my order, I picked Yogurt, Broccoli and Cheddar Frittata with a glass of Orange Juice. It was a good breakfast.



Customer service provided by the South African Airways crew was a little bit disappointing. The overall service was just okay. Flight attendants rarely smiled and were out of reach from time to time. Perhaps they were just focusing on professionalism and less chit-chat. But one thing that’s worth mentioning though was when our flight touched down in Johannesburg, the head of the flight attendants came out to shake each Business Class passenger’s hand and thanked us for flying with South African Airways.

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