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Old Feb 18, 19, 1:37 pm
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On October 12, 2018, One Mile at a Time published a blog post called ~$880 British Airways First Class Fares From South Africa. Sounded like an excellent opportunity to jump onto the mistake fares bandwagon once again! As it turned out, it was also possible to book a one-way fare to Spain, so I booked a one-way JNB-LHR in First and LHR-BCN in Club Europe, for a grand total of ZAR 7.648,68 (about EUR 478, or USD 540). British Airways sometimes honor mistake fares, and sometimes don't, so I let this ticket rest for a while before booking any other flights. After multiple success stories (for example in this Flyertalk thread), I deemed it safe to book other flights.

For positioning to South Africa, I looked into a number of possibilities, and in the end I settled for a Virgin Atlantic fare from AMS-LHR (operated by BA), connecting to Virgin Atlantic to Johannesburg. The cheapest option from BCN to AMS was Vueling, so I booked the lowest of their low fares back to AMS.

It would be just a quick weekend turn, leaving AMS on Friday, and returning on Sunday.

So, here we go!

BA 435, scheduled 1410-1430, actual 1605-1605
Friday, 8 February 2019
G-EUXL - Airbus A321, seat 12C (Y)

G-EUXL at the gate in AMS

Not much to say about this flight, other than that it was delayed for a longer time than the in-air time to LHR. The aircraft arrived about 55 minutes late at the gate, due to strong winds both in LHR and in AMS, and we ended up leaving about two hours late. I somewhat worried about my 2h45 connection in LHR, including a terminal change from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3, but I specifically booked the earlier VS flight, knowing that in case of a misconnect there would still be a later flight. Anyways, I didn't partake in the buy-on-board and soon enough we were landing in LHR, docking at the gate about 90 minutes late. Made a rush for the bus connection to T3, and at the VS desk over there I learned that the VS461 to JNB would depart about 90 minutes behind schedule, so no worries anymore about missing the flight. Actually the first time that I was happy about a flight delay...

VS 461, scheduled 1645-0545, actual 1830-0700
Friday, 8 February 2019
G-VCRU - Boeing 787-9, seat 55A (Y)

G-VCRU at the gate, LHR T3

Scheduled departure time was 1645, however it was announced that boarding would start at around six o'clock. Sure enough, about five minutes after six we were invited to board. Boarding took a very long time, but in the end we were ready to go. The crew announced that the delay was caused by a last-minute aircraft swap, as the original aircraft scheduled for this flight ended up delayed itself, so the incoming SFO aircraft had to be made ready for the JNB turn. VS allow seat reservation even for cheap Y fares, so at the time of booking I chose 55A. In the weeks and days before the flight, 55B remained empty, however, near the end of boarding a seatmate turned up.

Seat 55A

Legroom in the VS 787-9, seat 55A

It was interesting to see that VS have menus even in Y.

Economy class menu for VS461 LHR-JNB

At around 1830, boarding was completed, and we made the short taxi to the runway. Some time after take-off, a drinks round was made and I asked for a beer.

Tiger beer

When the cabin crew distributed the meals, I was told that all choices from the menu were unavailable because of the aircraft swap. I had the chicken with barley; it was one of the special meals they had, according to the crew. Based upon the taste, I think it was the bland meal...

Chicken with barley

After dinner, cabin lights were dimmed and it was time to try and get some sleep. I dozed off now and again, which made time go by a bit faster. I would have appreciated more water rounds through the cabin during the night; it's also possible that I missed them because I was sleeping...

Didn't snap a pic of the breakfast, but I had the waffles, which were fine. We arrived in JNB at around seven o'clock in the morning, only about 75 minutes late. Immigration was quick, and I headed off to the City Lodge at the airport, where I booked a day room, to have a much-needed shower.

Online check-in for the BA mistake fare worked perfectly, so I had high hopes for the next sector!

Next up, BA F.
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Old Feb 21, 19, 11:47 am
Join Date: Dec 2001
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Great that Virgin let you chose a seat for free. Austrian charges $35. I liked Virgin from New York; nice crews but the breakfast (Aussie Bar) was disgusting. I prefer South African as the legroom and food was generous.
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Old Feb 21, 19, 12:22 pm
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Originally Posted by Bretteee View Post
Great that Virgin let you chose a seat for free. Austrian charges $35. I liked Virgin from New York; nice crews but the breakfast (Aussie Bar) was disgusting. I prefer South African as the legroom and food was generous.
The breakfast to South Africa was a bit more substantial, and actually pretty good for Y class (sorry, forgot to take a picture...). The seats in Y were a bit too hard for my liking.

I'm now going to upload the next part of the report!
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Old Feb 21, 19, 12:45 pm
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After freshing up in my City Lodge day room (recommended), I picked up a rental car at Hertz' airport branch, and headed out to Rand Airport for the SAA museum (also recommended), and after that to the Apartheid Museum (very interesting). Then lunch, and some running in the botanical gardens. Finally another shower in my day room, and back to the airport.

One more thing about the Hertz car: it was equipped with an automated toll payment system. For the first time in the history of car rentals, this wasn't a hidden-fees scam! I was charged just a few ZAR for the actual toll costs, no convenience fees or other crap that car rental companies try to get away with in other countries (USA rental branches for example, with their EZPass money schemes...).

Anyways, back to the flying part!

I got back to the airport about 3.5 hours before my flight, so took my time looking at the shops, walking around the whole landside and airside of the terminal, and finally made my way to the BA lounge. My F ticket provided me with access to the First side, which was... underwhelming.

At least there was champagne in the lounge!

View of the lounge after the first BA evening flight had departed

So far, so good. Before long, it was time to board! I left a few minutes before the expected boarding call in the lounge. Queues were already starting to form at the gate, and of course some DYKWIA couple made their way around the queue all the way to the front . Interestingly, boarding was announced for groups 1 and 2 simultaneously; being almost in front, I was right behind the aforementioned DYKWIA couple and could enjoy their "walk of shame" to the right, to J.

And I was led to my seat in First!

BA 54, scheduled 2205-0730, actual 2215-0700
Saturday, 9 February 2019
G-XLEC - Airbus A380, seat 4A (F)

G-XLEC at the gate in JNB

Seat 4A in the A380

Settling in my seat with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle

As you can see, I was offered a glass of the (rather excellent) LPGS. It would have been rude to refuse

Boarding took some time, but then, I wasn't exactly in a hurry! I have to say that the F seat on the A380 is really great; my only other First experience on BA was on the 777 and it felt quite cramped, but this was a whole different story. Actually, the only suggestion I would make to BA is to add some sort of a door, so you can really retreat yourself in your private space.

My seat mate in 4E in the meantime was putting the class into First class...

A380 First cabin overview from seat 4A

Next part to follow!
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Old Feb 21, 19, 1:15 pm
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The lady in 4F in the meantime was complaining to any cabin crew who would listen that groups 1 and 2 were invited to board simultaneously; the horror!

Boarding was delayed a bit because they were looking for a missing passenger (multiple announcements in the category of "could Mr X please make himself known to the cabin crew?"), but we pushed back around ten minutes late, and took about a five minute taxi to the runway. After a very long takeoff roll, we were off to London!

Service was quite slow to begin with; about forty minutes after take-off, I was finally offered another drink.

Rosé champagne and nuts

Given the flight length, why not try some of the food?

Here's the food part of the menu. A (*) indicates that I took that option.


We believe that travelling in First means enjoying some of the finer things in life, and your delicious menu today is no exception.

From fresh seasonal ingredients, to a carefully chosen selection of international wines and Champagnes, our talented chefs and sommeliers have created a signature experience to be savoured.

So, please sit back, relax and enjoy our à la carte dining.

<pages skipped: drinks>



(*) Kudu carpaccio with thyme marinated goat's cheese and a lemon and shallot oil.


Smoked salmon with aubergine confit

Warm parsnip and potato rösti with goat's cheese and red pepper coulis

(*) Cream of baby marrow squash soup

Fresh seasonal salad served with your choice of sour cream and herb dressing or lemon and olive oil dressing


Pan-seared peppered fillet of beef with fondant potatoes, grilled mushrooms, courgette, vine cherry tomato and sage butter jus

Fillet of kingklip with sweet potato fondant, sautéed spinach and piquanté pepper, fennel and star anise beurre noisette

(*) Roasted medaillon of lamb saddle with green beans, baby carrots, pomme purée and garlic cream sauce

Mushroom ravioli with sautéed mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and Parmesan sauce

Salad of grilled sesame prawns with vegetable slaw, mesclun and a tamarind dressing

I skipped dessert and cheese.

As some would say: showtime, BA style

Kudu carpaccio; OK but not special

Soup; not too bad

Lamb; looked better than it tasted, lots of fat

Observations: not once addressed by name, which is something that I would expect when travelling in First... Food wasn't spectacular, I would say 6 or 7 out of 10. And, as I mentioned, it took a while for the service to start up, but once underway they sped up a bit. About 105 minutes after take-off, I retreated to the lavatory to change into my pyjamas. A member of the crew made my bed, and I slept quite good for about seven hours total. After four hours, I woke up because it was getting quite cold. I walked to the galley to pick up a bottle of water, and continued my sleep for another three hours.

4A is ready to sleep!

More to follow!
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Old Feb 21, 19, 1:39 pm
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After my seven hours of sleep, I went to the lavatory to change back into my normal clothes again. I got queue-jumped by the "lady" in 3E...

Anyways, shortly after returning to my seat, the cabin lights came on slowly, and the crew were starting preparations for breakfast.

The food part of the breakfast menu read as follows:



<skipped the drinks part>


A selection of yoghurts

(*) Toasted granola with natural yoghurt and strawberry compote

Fresh seasonal fruit appetiser

A wide selection of breakfast pastries and rolls


Traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs, pork sausage, grilled back bacon, sautéed mushrooms and onions, grilled tomato and Parmentier potatoes

Asparagus frittata with rustic tomato sauce and bubble and squeak

(*) French toast with apple and rhubarb, strawberry coulis and mascarpone cream

Showtime, BA breakfast style

Granola and yoghurt, yummy!

Some tea perhaps?

French toast and croissant; both good!

Banana and vanilla smoothie, and some water

And then, preparations were being made for landing. We landed well ahead of schedule, and docked at T5C. Meaning of course the great First class experience of walking to the T5 train, squeezing yourself into the train, and then exiting into the main terminal 5 building. And then of course the bus transfer to T3, because T5 is apparently still not big enough for BA...

Up next: BA and CX lounges in T3, BA J to BCN, VY Y to AMS.
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Old Feb 21, 19, 11:01 pm
Join Date: Jan 2019
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Thank you for your Trip report. I'am looking forward to this flight in 6 weeks
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Old Feb 22, 19, 1:10 am
Join Date: Apr 2015
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Nice TR. Looking forward to my first F experience next week down to CPT. Have heard mixed reports but excited nonetheless
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Old Feb 22, 19, 11:39 am
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Fast track in T3 security worked like a charm, and before I knew it I was in the T3 BA F lounge. Which was a bit, well, underwhelming?

BA T3 F lounge

Anyways, I had a cup of coffee and some water, and decided to have a shower. A shower was available immediately

T3 BA lounge shower

Wow, that was refreshing. The inventor of showers in airport lounges really deserves a statue!

Anyways, now I was looking forward to a proper breakfast. I had heard good stories about the CX lounge, so that's where I went. To the noodle bar, to be specific.

Breakfast of champions!

CX noodle bar

After some more relaxing in the CX lounge, it was time to board again!

Sunday, 10 February 2019
Scheduled 1020-1330, Actual 1025-1320
G-EUUU - Airbus A320, Seat 1A (C)

A two-hour flight down to Barcelona, in seat 1A.

G-EUUU ready for boarding

Legroom in 1A

We left the gate more or less on time, despite the flight being almost completely full (Y full, C had a couple of empty seats including 1C).

Icelandair special livery - 100 years of Iceland

Time for another airline meal... Choice was either vegetable quiche, or a selection of cold cheese and ham. I went for the quiche, along with some champagne.

BA474 - food and drink

Not much to say about the flight, it went by pretty quickly.

G-EUUU wing view, somewhere between LHR and BCN

Nice marina, shortly before landing in BCN

Almost on the ground, passing a container terminal

We landed a couple of minutes ahead of schedule, and from the runway it was just a short taxi to the gate.
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Old Feb 23, 19, 4:37 am
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Hertfordshire, UK
Programs: BA Blue Member, Virgin Flying Club
Posts: 21
Thanks, nice report.
I have done F to and from JNB, both A380 and 747.
The A380 allowed my wife and I to dine together, but the 747's tappered nose didnt allow this.

Last edited by npturner; Feb 23, 19 at 7:10 am Reason: Typo
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Old Feb 23, 19, 6:58 am
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Old Feb 28, 19, 10:18 pm
Join Date: Nov 2008
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Very nice TR. I'm impressed by your extensive day program, given that your "good night's sleep" was in a Y seat.
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