Tried & Tested

South African Airways A340-300 economy class

21 Aug 2014 by Jenny Southan


As I was transferring from South African Airways flight (SA237) from London to Johannesburg (click here to read review), I had already checked in online the day before and printed both boarding passes. On arrival in Jo’burg I had to collect my suitcase and then check it in again before going through security in the domestic terminal. The process was smooth and, once through, saw my gate (C13) was close by. There were several cafes and fast-food outlets, shoe polishing stations and views of the aircraft stands.


My flight (SA333) to Cape Town was scheduled to depart at 1200, with boarding at 1115. The process of getting everyone on to the plane was quick and efficient, helped by the fact it wasn’t a particularly busy flight. After entering the A340-300 via an airbridge, I was in my seat (55A) by 1125.


The plane is configured 2-4-2 (A-C, D-E-F-G, H-K) across two economy cabins (rows 45-56 and 62-76) and two business class sections at the front (rows one to five, and 15-16) on board this wide-bodied A340-300. Click here to see a seat plan.

The Recaro product was smart, upholstered in navy blue fabric with coloured flecks. Each seat was equipped with an individual IFE screen with a good choice of movies and TV shows. The legroom (at 33-34 inches) and width (17-18 inches) felt generous for economy.


Over-wing seats are from rows 45 to 55. Sitting nearer the front will mean you get served refreshments quicker and will disembark more speedily. If you are a couple, you can book A-C or H-K seats and have complete privacy. Avoid seats E and F altogether as neither offers the benefit of direct aisle access or a view out of a window. You may also want to avoid sitting in aisle seats in rows 55 and 56 as they are near the washrooms. There are bassinets attached to the bulkheads in rows 45 and 55 so there may be babies here.


I was feeling very tired, so slept until we were airborne – which was some time as the flight was delayed. We stood on the tarmac waiting to take off until 1250, almost an hour behind schedule. After take-off, the catering trollies began making their way through the cabins at 1310. I was impressed by how professional, smiley and polite the crew were.

After a cup of tea and a soft drink, I was given my pre-ordered vegetarian light lunch – a mixed pepper wrap, which was pretty much the same as what I had for breakfast, and a piece of coffee cake. It was just about passable.


Rubbish was collected at 1400 and we started our descent into Cape Town at 1415, landing at 1440. We disembarked swiftly down steps at the front to an awaiting bus that took everyone to the terminal. It took a while for the suitcases to appear but I was out of the terminal (no passport control) by 1520.


Although the flight was 30 minutes late, the short sector was served by an A340-300, which meant there was plenty of legroom – 33-34 inches, compared with 29 inches on the likes of Easyjet, with whom I usually fly on short European hops. It also had the benefit of individual entertainment screens with a good choice of films and TV shows. The crew were also particularly hospitable and friendly.


  • SEAT PITCH 32 inches
  • SEAT WIDTH 17-18 inches
  • SEAT RECLINE 5-6 inches
  • PRICE Internet rates for a return midweek economy class flight from London to Cape Town via Johannesburg in September ranged between £997 and £1,902 depending on flexibility.

Jenny Southan

Loading comments...

Search Flight

See a whole year of Reward Seat Availability on one page at

Cover of November 2020 - January 2021 edition of Business Traveller
Cover of November 2020 - January 2021 edition of Business Traveller
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below