Check-in was easy enough. No real queue to speak of. Got my luggage wrapped first though. Because – Johannesburg. Don’t really need to say anything more than that.
After clearing immigration, I went and begged for access to the South African Airways lounge. Technically I wasn’t meant to have access, but the lovely lady at the front desk let me in, because I said I just needed a quiet place to work, and outside was really busy and noisy. I was eternally grateful for her discretion!
The lounge left calling for the flight boarding quite late though, and by the time I got on board, there was no overhead bin space left. Seriously, it’s as bad as the US – people carrying 4 pieces of carry-on each. Next time they tell me I can only fly economy on short haul sectors for a consulting job in Africa, I’m paying out of my own pocket to upgrade to business.
The flight left half an hour late, and with an already tight connection in Johannesburg, I wasn’t hopeful about making the flight to Cape Town. Was hoping we’d make up some time during the flight, and that if we were pushing it, I might be able to get them to hold the plane for me.
Anyway, after take-off, the drinks trolley came around and lunch was served. I got Diet Coke, and my VGML…My VGML that contained butter, a cheese salad, and a Kit Kat. Oh yeah, SAA does it again!!! The meal tray also contained a bread roll that I couldn’t eat and a main of rice and some kind of vegetable mush. Except nobody could tell me what the sauce was on the vegetables, so it potentially contained gluten. Meaning the only thing on the tray that I could eat was the rice that hadn’t touched the sauce.
This has happened to me to some degree on every single flight I have ever taken on South African Airways. Every single one. Before I was forced to go vegan, they stuffed up my lactose free meals every time. If it had just happened at certain airports I would simply put it down to an issue with the specific catering company. But this is systemic. It happens on flights departing Australia, Europe, and within Africa. I’d say “it’s a joke“, but it’s not a joke when it comes to food allergies. I can obviously forgive the gluten on a VGML tray, that’s just bad luck. But the constant use of dairy products is unacceptable. South African Airways needs to get their act together, and if I had any other option, I wouldn’t fly with them again. This was the last straw for me.
I wish I’d had the time to get to the shops in Lusaka before having to fly so I could buy some snacks. But no such luck. I know it was only a 2 hour flight, but it was lunch time, and I was hungry. Say all you want about starving kids in Africa – believe it or not, I do get it. But when I’m paying that much money for a flight, I have certain expectations.
The rest of the flight was uneventful, was seated next to a bunch of Christian missionaries who spent the flight praying and trying to convert a South African woman in the row behind me. It made my head hurt.
We landed late. And I almost missed my flight to Cape Town. Baggage re-check for my connecting flight had technically closed when I got to the domestic transfer counter, but they managed it somehow. I had to run after that, because they were holding the plane for me, but I made it in the end.