Why do British Airways operate Boeing 737-800s on domestic flights in South Africa? I took a flight with them in Club Class to see what they’re all about – and how it compares to Club Europe!
Everything in the terminal is branded BA, from the signs to the boarding passes which isn’t suprising really, as this is marketed as a British Airways flight.
As I scanned my boarding pass, I got the dreaded double beep – but I needn’t have worried as it turned out I’d been upgraded to business class.
BA South Africa’s business class is just called ‘Club’, and is in a 2-3 configuration with the lovely big seats you got years ago in Club Europe.
Before pushback we were bought round a bottle of water at the gate.
It felt very strange looking out the window at a 737 winglet with the BA logo on it.
Soon it was time to push back for our short flight to Durban.
We taxied out to runway 3L at Jo’burg, where we had a short wait for some departing aircraft.
This Malawian 737 was particularly interesting, and kicked up a lot of spray as she took off.
We powered up and made a pretty long takeoff into the grey skies above Jo’burg.
Our route today took us southeast out of Johannesburg, on a direct course for Durban. Flight time today was 47 minutes at a cruising altitude of 37,000ft.
The service started soon after takeoff. This aircraft is showing its age a little, but still isn’t in bad shape for a 17 year old aircraft.
BA’s South Africa flights have the same High Life magazine found on their mainline routes, but the safety card was not branded at all which was a bit of a surprise.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect in Club class on a domestic South African flight, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a full meal service – complete with beers and wines, just like you get on a Club Europe flight. Today’s meal was a choice of a chicken wrap of veggie wrap, complete with nuts, cheese, crackers and a dessert. I also took a glass of South African wine. The meal was really tasty and well above my expectations for a 50 minute flight.
The clouds started to break as we got closer to the coast, and we started to get some great views of Kwazulu-Natal below us.
The coastline soon came into view as we wound our way around the city of Durban towards King Shaka Airport.
We touched down slightly behind schedule, just after 2:00 in the afternoon.
My flight with BA today cost me £59.38, or around 78 USD (78.13) for a distance of 297 miles, giving a cost per mile of £0.20p.
I don’t think that’s bad value for money on such a short flight, even more so considering the upgrade to Club and the fact that the same journey by road takes over six hours.
Overall, it was pretty cool being able to fly British Airways domestically in SOuth Africa, especially on a 737-800. The service was just as good as in CLub Europe, with the added benefit of those lovely big armchair seats – just like short haul business class used to be.
The crew were friendly and the flight was comfortable.
King Shaka Airport is huge, and seems incredibly empty – we were the only flight at the gate.
Once in Durban I took an Uber to my hotel, which was around 20 minutes from the airport.