South African Airways: Beijing – Johannesburg, Business Class

Since I have already written a guide on how to get to South Africa using frequent flyer miles, I will jump right into the review of the flight.  Business class awards are becoming an endangered species and it can be pretty tricky trying to get one on South African Airways since they are one of the best airlines serving JNB, the major gateway airport to this amazing country.  This trip was originally going to happen in 2015 but was brought forward to 2014 as I was getting worried about the availability of amazing awards like this and couldn’t afford another devaluation by United.

First look at the plane from the gate in PEK.



Comfortable seats that lie flat!IMG_2558

Seat controlsIMG_2559

The seat backs were already loaded with magazines, headphones and a nice amenity kit.IMG_2560 IMG_2561

I was REALLY glad we weren’t going to do a 14 hour flight in economy!IMG_2562

The flight attendant took our orders for both dinner and breakfast.  It was late and all I really wanted to do was sleep so I asked for a nice liqueur.  She recommended Amarula which was absolutely divine and became my addiction for the rest of the trip (when I didn’t have a rental car to worry about).IMG_2564 IMG_2565 IMG_2566

With seat in the bed position, I slept like a log and was astonished to be woken a couple hours out of JNB with breakfast.  Maybe the two layover excursions in Taipei & Beijing helped as I was totally exhausted.  Best sleep I ever had on a plane!IMG_2568 IMG_2570 IMG_2573 IMG_2576

These fruit crepes were delicious!IMG_2579

We landed right on time at JNB.  The camera showed the plane’s position, it was pretty cool.  IMG_2580 IMG_2581

Business class got our own bus to immigration which was a breeze.  You don’t even have to fill in arrival cards!  Why can’t all countries be this smart & efficient?IMG_2582

To say the least, I loved South African Airways!  Great service, punctual, comfortable, what more could you want?  We still weren’t at our final destination:  King William’s Town.  One more short flight on British Airways/Comair and we would be there!


How We Killed 8 Hours In Beijing

Here we go, another whirlwind layover, this time in Beijing.  We were enroute to Johannesburg from Brisbane and I maximized the routing so we could get a peek at Taipei and Beijing.

We had to pass a temperature test before they let us in due to ebola, but other than that our 72 hour transit visa (only used for 8 hours) went smoothly once we reached the front of the line.

If our layover had been during the day, we would have grabbed a taxi to the Great Wall but since we arrived at dusk, I decided the best options was a quick look at Tienanmen Square.  This was easily accomplished using the air train and local subway.  Details of public transport are on the airport’s website.

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The long lines at PEK left us with no time to check carry on backpacks so we took them with us.  It was dark by the time we got there so it was all lit up. IMG_2541 IMG_2544 IMG_2545 IMG_2546 IMG_2548


We didn’t stay long, I was worried about possible delays getting back through security so we headed back after a quick walk around.  Lines were indeed long so it was good we weren’t late.IMG_2550 IMG_2551 IMG_2552

Back at the airport, we wandered around the shops.  We stopped in at the lounge for drinks but I knew from our previous visit in Sept that the wifi was painfully slow and they don’t warn you about flights being called so we went to the gate shortly afterward.  Not the most exciting layover we ever had but at least we were exhausted enough to sleep well on the South African flight to JNB!IMG_2554 IMG_2557