We had an absolute blast in Cape Town. Interestingly enough, The Points Guy recently visited Cape Town, and he had just as many great things to say about it as we did. However, after all the great times we had, it was time to go to the Maldives! I had booked a ticket with American Airlines miles. The ticket was CPT-JNB-AUH-MLE. We had a flight around lunch time from Cape Town to Johannesburg booked on British Airways, operated by Comair.
I’m not sure about the history of why British Airways has a presence in South Africa, but they actually have a pretty decent route network within the country. These planes are operated by Comair, and they aren’t the same planes that you would fly if you were flying BA in Europe.
We arrived at the airport, checked in, and got all of our boarding passes to the Maldives! After going through security, we went to a lounge called “The Slow Lounge.” This is an exceptional lounge! It was really spacious with lots of modern furniture, there was free wi-fi, and the food spread was great.
I had a few snacks, but like any god frequent flier, I timed our business class flights to be during the lunch hour so I didn’t want to fill up at the lounge :-). I had a beer and relaxed for a bit.
Pretty soon, it was time to board. The gate was just a short walk from the lounge, and while the plane was in standard British Airways livery, there was also a little side decal that indicated it was operated by Comair.
Business class on the plane was like the European short haul business class, where they are actually just coach seats with a bit more leg room, the middle seat blocked off, and a better meal.
Whereas I was really impressed by the innovative 3-2 setup of the South African Airways 737 setup, I was pretty underwhelmed by this physical product. I noticed that things were pretty worn out as well. The plane really could use an overhaul. Even the window shades were tattered.
An old plane didn’t stop me from ordering a champagne and relaxing, though!
As I always do when I board a new airline for the first time, I started looking through all the reading material, seeing what I could find. I was surprised that British Airways operated by Comair actually has a completely different in-flight magazine as well. United Express flights operated by Skywest still stock Hemispheres… so I was surprised. I suppose it makes sense though, from both a content and advertising perspective.
I turned to the route map, and I thought it was quite interesting that BA by Comair had pretty extensive coverage of the major South African cities.
After takeoff, food was served, and I was rather disappointed in the quality. Once again, I was directly comparing it to the South African AIrways 737 business class experiences we had earlier on the trip. To their credit, they do set the tray table with a table cloth, which is more than you’ll get here in the USA. We started with a salad, and then we had main courses. My wife got the pasta. I got the chicken.
Does it look absolutely delicious? No? Well, it wasn’t :-). My chicken was pretty mediocre. Katy’s pasta was decent. It tasted about how it looks… like mediocre pasta. Oh well for a two hour flight, I at least appreciate the meal! After our main courses, we got some interesting dessert thing. Think cheesecake… minus the crust… in a cup.
It wasn’t very good either. After landing in Johannesburg, we had a long layover before our overnight flight to Abu Dhabi on Etihad. We stopped in at the Mashonza lounge to relax during our long layover.
It was a really short flight… the fact that it was mediocre on pretty much all levels didn’t sour our mood – we were off to the Maldives! Also, I was really excited about flying Etihad that evening and then onto MLE. British Airways operated by Comair is not that nice of a flying experience. The planes are old, the food is weak, and there isn’t even a real business class seat. If you’re redeeming an award and it’s just a short flight like CPT to JNB, well then who cares. But I wouldn’t go making this airline my primary South African carrier any time soon!