South African Airways Review: Perth to Cape Town (via Johannesburg)

With Toto set on repeat for the 16-hour (including transfers) journey, here’s how flying with South Africa’s national carrier went.

Last updated:

Finally ticking off a much-awaited bucket list destination, I planned a trip to Southern Africa over Easter, visiting Cape Town, Victoria Falls, Livingstone, Johannesburg and Kruger National Park.

Given that I was pretty set on travel dates and going over an extra-long weekend, South African Airways was the most affordable and convenient option.

Here’s how it went.

Flight details:

Route: Perth to Cape Town via Johannesburg
Duration: 10 hours, 50 minutes; 2 hours, 5 minutes
Flight numbers: SA281 and SA307
Aircraft type: Airbus A343 (Perth to Johannesburg) and Airbus A320 (Johannesburg to Cape Town)
Date travelled: 23 March 2018
Class: Economy
Frequent flyer program: Voyager (Can also collect Velocity points)

What did I like?

  • Departure/arrival times: Being able to work a full day without needing to take annual leave for a travel day, I left Sydney on a Virgin Australia flight that had me in Perth with plenty of time to spare before catching my flight to South Africa at 11:45pm. The flight arrived in Johannesburg at 4:35am, allowing me to catch a connection that had me in Cape Town by breakfast. The return flight back to Perth two weeks later had a similar schedule, leaving Johannesburg in the evening and arriving in Perth at noon.
  • Leg room: With a roomy 33.5 inches of legroom combined with my short stature, this nearly 11-hour flight was rather comfortable. (By comparison, most Qantas planes offer 31, Tigerair and Jetstar offer just 29-30 depending on the aircraft.)
  • Comfort of seats: Although an older plane that probably could use a refurbishment, the seats were quite comfortable. They weren’t leather, meaning I didn’t slide in the seat when I wanted to slouch down to sleep, which I often find happens. Combined with the ample legroom, this serial non-sleeper on planes managed to catch a few hours of shut-eye before touching down in Johannesburg.
  • Amenities kit: Along with the standard blanket and pillow that comes with full-service flights, South African Airways also provides a small amenities kit for each passenger. Inside the kit was an eye mask, a pair of socks and a single-use toothbrush with toothpaste.


What didn’t I like?

  • Aged plane: The Airbus A343 was a rather old-looking plane. The seats appeared a bit worn and the panel beneath the window next to me (pictured) was broken. I’m not at all scared of flying; however, the rattling noises the aircraft made upon take off and landing were rather alarming and I could see they would possibly cause panic in those who don’t feel as safe in the sky.
  • Old entertainment system: While there was seat-back, on-demand entertainment, the system was old. The image wasn’t sharp and you needed to be sitting at just the right angle to get the best quality image, which isn’t ideal if you’re someone who prefers to slouch or recline your seat.
  • No direct flights from Sydney: Perth is South African Airways’ only Australian gateway, meaning travellers from Sydney must first fly to Perth with SAA’s code-share partner, Virgin Australia. If travelling beyond Johannesburg, which I was on my outbound journey, this meant the trip was 24 hours and three flights long to reach Cape Town.
  • Food: Now, I know airplane food is never deserving of a hat, but aside from the sides and individually wrapped Tim Tam, I couldn’t finish my meal (pictured). The biscuit and rooibos tea to pair with it after the meal were the saving grace.


Would I use South African Airways again?

I would prefer to fly direct to South Africa from Sydney, and currently that route is only serviced by Qantas. But if that flight isn’t available on the day I need to travel or costs a lot more, I would fly with South African Airways again. And I’d remember to bring snacks.


South African Airways flights on sale

It looks like we don't have any coupons at the moment. Take a look at our most recent deals

Topdeck Topdeck

Up to 30% off last-minute tours

Valid for travel on select dates. Destinations include Europe, Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and North America. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Virgin Australia Virgin Australia

Up to 30% off international flights

Available for flights on select dates from January - December 2020. Destinations include Los Angeles, Vanuatu, Fiji, Hong Kong, Bali, New Zealand and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Contiki Contiki

Up to 20% off worldwide tours

Available for travel on select 2020 dates. Destinations include Italy, France, Germany, Iceland, Greece, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Banff, Hanoi, Phuket, Laos, Kyoto, Osaka, Cairns, Sydney, Darwin and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Flight Centre - Cruises Flight Centre - Cruises

Mediterranean cruises from just $99 with MSC

Available March-May 2020 in Italy. Sample cruise is a 1-night sample sailing from Genoa. Also book 2-night cruises from $239, 3-night cruises from $339 and 5-night cruises from $694.

Last verified

Deal ends

Aunt Betty Aunt Betty

Asia flights from $386 return

Available on select travel dates from January - December 2020. Sample fare is Melbourne-Bali with Malindo Air. Other destinations include Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, India and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Virgin Australia Virgin Australia

Hong Kong flights from $549 return

Available on select dates from February - November 2020. Sample fare departs from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Gold Coast.

Last verified

Deal ends

Wotif Wotif

Up to 40% off worldwide hotels + Extra 8% off with code

Available on select hotels on any travel date, as long as it's booked by 31 January. Destinations include Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Hawaii, Thailand and more.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Flight Centre - Cruises Flight Centre - Cruises

Up to $900 off cruises + $200 OBC with Carnival Cruises

Available on select travel dates in 2020 and 2021. Destinations include Pacific, New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Flight Centre - Cruises Flight Centre - Cruises

$1 deposits + onboard credit with P&O Cruises

Available on select sailings until December 2020 to Vanuatu, New Zealand, Tasmania, Whitsundays, Fiji and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Flight Centre - International Flight Centre - International

Asia flights from $213 return

Available for flights on select dates from February - 31 August 2020 with AirAsia. Sample fare is Perth-Lombok. Destinations include Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Phuket, Maldives, Delhi, Tokyo, Bangkok and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Virgin Australia Virgin Australia

Australia-wide flights from $75 each way

Available for flights on select dates from February - September 2020. Sample fare is Ballina Byron-Sydney.

Last verified

Deal ends

Virgin Australia Virgin Australia

USA flights from $949 return

Available for flights on select dates from February - September 2020. Sample fare departs from Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne or Adelaide to Los Angeles. Destinations include Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, Orlando, Seattle and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

G Adventures G Adventures

Up to 25% off worldwide tours

Available for travel on select dates in 2020. Destinations include Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, Caribbean, New Zealand and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Wotif Wotif

Extra 8% off hotels

Available on all dates including over Christmas and New Year. Destinations include Asia, Australia, Europe and more. Must book in advance. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Trafalgar Tours Trafalgar Tours

Up to 15% off worldwide tours

Valid for travel on select dates. Destinations include Scotland, Peru, Italy, Mexico, USA, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Chile, Argentina, Egypt, Morocco and more. T&C's apply.

Last verified

Agoda Agoda
Exclusive

Up to 75% off worldwide hotels + extra 5% off with code

Valid for travel from 18 June 2019 - 30 June 2020. Destinations include New York, Los Angeles, Bali, Singapore, Phuket, Hong Kong, London, Paris and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Insight Vacations Insight Vacations

Save up to $1,180 last minute deals

Available on travel from February - May 2020. Destinations include America, Ireland, Russia, Europe, Switzerland and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Wendy Wu Tours Wendy Wu Tours

Free flights with Japan and China tour bookings

Available on select travel dates. Package includes return flights, accommodation, meals, visa for Australian passport holders and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Air New Zealand - Pacific Islands Air New Zealand - Pacific Islands

Cook Islands flights from $529 return

Available on select dates from 24 January - 12 September 2020. Sample price is from Sydney. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Ola Ola
Exclusive

$20 off first ride

Available on all dates in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Canberra, enter the promo code into your app to redeem. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Contiki Contiki

Up to 25% off last-minute tours worldwide

Book a range of last-minute Contiki tours, from week-long jaunts to month-long journeys, to destinations including Italy, France, Germany, Iceland, Greece, Vietnam, Thailand, USA, Canada and more.

Last verified

DiDi DiDi
Exclusive

Get $20 credit

Get $5 off each of your first four rides in Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Geelong, Perth and Newcastle. Valid on all dates for new users. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Otel.com Otel.com

Extra 9% off hotel bookings

Valid on select hotel stays worldwide like Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Thailand, USA, Europe and more on all dates, including over holidays like Easter, Christmas and New Year's Eve. Some restrictions apply.

Last verified

Rentalcars.com Rentalcars.com

Up to 20% off car hire

Compare car hire prices on Rentalcars.com and save up to 20% compared to booking direct.

Last verified

CruiseAway CruiseAway
FLASH SALE

$50 deposit on Rockies & Alaska tour and cruise with flights

Departing on 9 May 2021 with Celebrity Cruises. Package includes return flights from Sydney-Calgary, accommodation, coach tour, tour guide, onboard meals and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Flight Centre - International Flight Centre - International

Bali flights from $241 return

Available for flights 5 May - 16 September 2020 with Jetstar. Sample fare is from Perth.

Last verified

Deal ends

Adrenaline Adrenaline
Exclusive

Extra 10% off site-wide with code

Available site-wide for activities like driving experiences, riding hot air balloons, whale watching, sailing, jet ski, scuba diving, flying experiences, kayaking and more. Minimum spend of $100. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and all major cities across Australia. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Flight Centre - International Flight Centre - International

Auckland flights from $245 return

Available for flights 22 July - 16 September 2020 with Jetstar. Sample fare is from Melbourne.

Last verified

Deal ends

Skyscanner Car Hire Skyscanner Car Hire

Cairns car hire from $23

Valid for travel on select dates until May 2020 with Avis, Budget, Sixt, Europcar and more. Destinations close from Cairns include Palm Cove, Mareeba and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

I Want That Flight I Want That Flight

Tokyo flights from $606 return with Qantas

Available on travel from May - June and October - November 2020. Sample fare is Melbourne-Tokyo. Other flight departs from Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.

Last verified

Deal ends

I Want That Flight I Want That Flight

Spain flights from $951 return with Etihad Airways

Available for travel between February - September 2020. Sample fare is Hobart-Barcelona. Other flights depart from Gold Coast, Cairns, Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

IHG Hotels IHG Hotels

Up to 35% off stays

Available for travel until 30 June 2020 across Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Indonesia and Maldives. Select "AUSTRALASIA NEW YEAR SALE" to avail offer. T&Cs and blackout dates apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

CruiseAway CruiseAway

Australia Day sale: $1 deposit on Princess Cruises

Available on select cruises in 2020 - 2021 across Australia, New Zealand, Pacific, Papua New Guinea and Asia. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Skyscanner Skyscanner

TigerAir sale: Australia wide flights from $56 each way

Available on select flights from 27 January - 4 April 2020. Destinations include Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Gold Coast.

Last verified

Deal ends

Virgin Australia Virgin Australia

Fiji flights from $599 return

Available on select dates from February - June 2020. Sample fare departs from Sydney and Brisbane. Other flight departs from Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth.

Last verified

Deal ends

CruiseAway CruiseAway

Up to 40% off + up to US$400 OBC with Royal Caribbean

Available on select voyages in 2020 and 20201. Destinations include Australia, New Zealand, Pacific, Europe, Mediterranean, Asia and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Flight Centre - Cruises Flight Centre - Cruises

Princess Cruise sale: Worldwide cruise from $1,139

Available on select travel dates from February - November 2020. Destinations include Australia, Pacific, Japan, Mediterranean, North America and more. Sample fare is for a 6-night Southern Australia cruise. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Flight Centre - Cruises Flight Centre - Cruises

South Pacific cruises from $999

Available on select travel dates from January - March 2020 with Royal Caribbean. Sample fare is for a 9-night South Pacific and Queensland cruise. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Flight Centre - Cruises Flight Centre - Cruises

Summer sale: Free WiFi + drinks + OBCs and reduced deposits

Available on select travel dates in 2020 with P&O Cruises, Princess Cruise and Carnival Cruises. Destinations include New Zealand, Solomon Sea Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Hokkaido and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Voyagin Voyagin

US$5 off on tours and activities with code

Available on select travel dates. Minimum spend of US$80 required. Activities include Go Kart experience, Sumo Wrestling, Universal Studios Singapore, Bali Zoo Park tickets and more.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Popular Travel coupon codes

Last checked Code description Code
16 Jan 2020 Up to 40% off worldwide hotels + Extra 8% off with code BOO****
10 Jan 2020 Extra 8% off hotels BOO****
9 Jan 2020 Up to 75% off worldwide hotels + extra 5% off with code FIN****
4 Nov 2019 Get $20 credit FIN****
28 Oct 2019 Extra 9% off hotel bookings AUT****

Popular Flights coupon codes

Last checked Code description Code
5 Nov 2019 Up to 10% off worldwide flights with code FGZ****
15 Jan 2020 Up to $24 off fees on Ho Chi Minh City flights SGN****
15 Jan 2020 Up to $24 off fees on New Delhi flights DEL****
15 Jan 2020 Up to $24 off fees on Cancun flights CUN****
14 Jan 2020 Extra $50 off worldwide flights NYE****

Related Posts

Latest Flight Deals

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site