Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

Across the world to South Africa with Lufthansa business class

Across the world to South Africa with Lufthansa business class

Old Jan 26, 20, 8:05 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Vancouver
Programs: Aeroplan, BA, QR
Posts: 310
Across the world to South Africa with Lufthansa business class

Across the world to South Africa with Lufthansa business class


1. Introduction

Well it's been a long time since I've done a trip report, mostly because we moved across the world to live in Canada - and that takes up a lot of one's time. That said, it's been almost three years since we returned to South Africa to visit our family and friends. Considering it's so far, we decided to go for a whole month and not just a pit stop. Now, first let me apologize if this report isn't as detailed as my reports in the past, especially the parts regarding the actual airline. I had decided to not do a trip report due to year end fatigue and belligerence, and then of course when I returned rested I felt like actually doing one, so the pictures in certain parts may seem a little anemic and devoid of typical images such as the seat and leg room. With full humility, we have flown quite a lot and I'm getting a little tired of taking pictures of my feet and rather look for things I haven't seen before. That's said, it's showtime!

1. Vancouver to Johannesburg via Lufthansa business class
2. Knysna
3. The Cape Winelands
4. Cape Town
5. The amazing food in Cape Town
6. Johannesburg to Vancouver via Lufthansa business class

I hope you enjoy the trip report and commentary is welcome!

Last edited by SAtraveller; Feb 9, 20 at 10:17 am
SAtraveller is offline  
Old Jan 26, 20, 9:09 am
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Vancouver
Programs: Aeroplan, BA, QR
Posts: 310
1. Vancouver to Johannesburg via Lufthansa business class

We did a reasonable search for a good airline to take us on this journey that fell just short of 17,000km. While KLM did look promising, we settled on Lufthansa and promptly purchased our tickets. The Vancouver-Frankfurt flight on both legs was supplied by the 747-400 in a business/premium economy/economy setup. It seems like the 747-400's upper deck has lost its special First Class on the upper deck, at least on this route. We seized this opportunity to sit in the upper deck section on all four flights and reserved our seats online. The upper deck always feels more intimate in the 747, and there's a privacy aspect that makes you feel like you've got a small cabin and crew to yourself.

The check in was easy and after passing through airport security we visited the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge until our flight boarded. The lounge was pretty adequate though nothing to write home about. Boarding was organized and we ascending the few steps to the upper deck only to be greeted by very friendly crew. Let me just mention that we had sensational crew on all of our flights. They were friendly and professional, and always around to top up our wine or reintroduce the infernal infinite breadbasket. The upper deck has a 2-2 configuration with parallel seats. While this is great for a couple, I suspect it can be quite inconvenient for strangers as there is literally no privacy between the seats. The seats were very comfortable, though not as good as on the 747-8 and the foot section narrows down quite significantly. There is plenty of leg room, and the pillow and blanket provided were plush. Surprisingly, none of our planes had manual air vents and we were at the mercy of Lufthansa climate control, which is notoriously toasty, though we only suffered occasionally during the journey. The amenity kit was standard business class but it's not as good as some of the middle eastern airlines despite the L'Occitane products.

After a quick glass of sparkling wine we were off in an initial western direction that quickly reversed course across Canada and on to Frankfurt. The whole flight was very smooth with almost no turbulence, which I was thoroughly grateful for. Our starting drinks were a glass of red wine that didn't empty no matter how hard I tried (but turned to white after a while), and of course a gin and tonic. It feels a little ridiculous to complain about the peanuts not being warm, but if I don't write it here who could I possibly tell?





Canada remains exceedingly beautiful to fly over in the day, no matter what the season. Luckily we were flying out, as an Arctic chill settled on the country after we left that almost buried it in snow. By the time we returned it had passed and the snow had largely melted in part. After settling at our cruising altitude it was time for lunch.


Starters with bread, and a lovely presentation.


Salad with almond flakes and Parmesan



Beef fillet with mash and side vegetables. It looks messy but it was extremely tasty, as was all the food.



Kingclip and sides were apparently quite good too!



Grand dessert... one of my favourite things on an airline when I can't decide on dessert is when the flight attendants bring both out of their own volition. It always makes it seem like they want you to have a good time onboard and not experience the 'stress' of choice.

After all of this I was thoroughly satiated, but they did return a few moments later with chocolate which I of course ate. We then settled back as the sun went down and watched a few movies before sleeping until dawn. The 747-400 is quite dated and really starting to show its age if you compare it to competitors, though it has a deep nostalgic value to me as I grew up in awe of it and always prized its presence on my itinerary. I noticed that when the flight attendants entered the flight deck there were two security doors, and I'm convinced that this is new and led to a much smaller bathroom that lies behind the cockpit. The bathroom is really much too small and there is no doubt that large people will collide with barriers if they try and turn around in there.

As dawn peaked we were offered a really great breakfast as we flew over Europe and admired the lights of the cities and the bright horizon. After 10 hours and a memorable flight we touched down.



Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of the outbound 747-8 flight to Johannesburg, mostly because it took off quite late that night after a hefty layover. They offered us a first class upgrade for C$5000, which I thought was pretty outrageous for a single leg flight, so we declined. The 747-8 is definitely superior regarding passenger comfort on Lufthansa. The plane is significantly quieter on take-off and probably while cruising too. The cabin has slightly different seats but more space for your feet. There are large containers between your seat and the window and these are big enough to place a backpack in, and are exceptionally convenient. There are also two lavatories, one in the front and back - so overall a better plane to fly on if you have a choice. On this flight we were provided with pyjamas, but not on any of our other legs which was curious. I'm always amused at fleet inconsistencies like how we got mixed nuts on 3 legs and only walnuts on the one. That said, it had been 35h since we left Vancouver and we landed in Johannesburg refreshed and really pleased with the business class experience on Lufthansa.
roadwarrier likes this.

Last edited by SAtraveller; Jan 26, 20 at 4:26 pm
SAtraveller is offline  
Old Jan 26, 20, 9:31 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Programs: BA Gold, Hilton Honors Diamond, Mucci de buveur de gin
Posts: 2,989
Great start to your TR SAtraveller. Those meals on LH look quite good! Love the snowy scenery as you were crossing Canada at sunset too - very pretty. Looking forward to reading all about your safari.
stu1985 is offline  
Old Jan 26, 20, 12:35 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: JNB
Programs: Flying Blue, Miles and Smiles, Hhonors, ICHotels
Posts: 1,241
Lovely start to your trip. Glad you escaped that cold spell.
Looking forward how you compare SA now to when you left in terms of pricing and the like.
roadwarrier is offline  
Old Jan 26, 20, 6:41 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: YVR
Programs: AA
Posts: 520
After moving across the world to settle on the west coast of Canada, I'm surprised to see that Megan and Harry are having to fly commercially on Lufthansa!

Looking forward to the rest of this report.
theshaun is offline  
Old Jan 27, 20, 10:11 am
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Vancouver
Programs: Aeroplan, BA, QR
Posts: 310
2. Knysna

From Johannesburg we took a quick two hour flight to George which is on the south coast of the country. We then went to Knysna which is less than an hour's drive away and spent a week there visiting family. It's a beautiful part of the country, and I daresay I would live there in a second (or in George/Hermanus) if given the chance. After being caught up in subzero temperatures for several weeks, we headed to the beach in George. Ernie Els has a house there and he was in residence as we saw his son walk to the balcony once in a while as well as numerous darkened windowed cars surrounding the place. It was HOT and with the loss of our climate adaptation skills we really struggled for the first few days.




But I guess there's a solution to all painful experiences...











After the sunburn crept up on us we went for a quick swim in the cold water. It felt legitimately cold but it was also quite refreshing. Then when headed out for lunch and were reintroduced to some good SA food that I'm convinced in among the best on the planet.

Fish & Chips


Heavenly brownie - I actually didn't eat this but I saw an adjacent woman climbing into it and emitting various groans and squeaks.


People leaving their dogs outside while they eat breakfast.

Later we returned to my parent's estate and it provided us with some great views of the sunset.






This cat used to come out at dusk and play and prowl on the golf course each night.


This bushbuck used to meander around the estate along with his friends. He came within a few feet of me and twitched his nose making me wonder if he used to getting 'snacks' from other people in the area. After moving along he promptly stuck his head through a gate and ate someone's flowers, much to her chagrin I'm sure!



For our final evening there we went to a striking little restaurant in George that made delicious food. What a treat!



The gin cart getting ready to accelerate towards us.


Gin is becoming a popular drink in SA, probably because it can be enjoyed in hot weather. I tried a few of these and they were all very good!


Bread basket and butter


Beef and marrow with side vegetables and potatoes.


Lamb curry - probably the best I have ever had.

After reuniting with the family and sharing stories, it was alas time to move on, and we rented a car and made our way down the 400km journey to Stellenbosch.
SAtraveller is offline  
Old Jan 27, 20, 10:15 am
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Vancouver
Programs: Aeroplan, BA, QR
Posts: 310
Originally Posted by stu1985 View Post
Great start to your TR SAtraveller. Those meals on LH look quite good! Love the snowy scenery as you were crossing Canada at sunset too - very pretty. Looking forward to reading all about your safari.
Thanks very much stu1985! The scenery over Canada is always mindblowing for me.

Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post
Lovely start to your trip. Glad you escaped that cold spell.
Looking forward how you compare SA now to when you left in terms of pricing and the like.
Thanks roadwarrier! I was hesitant to return due to the social problems like loadshedding but we ended up having an amazing vacation. I did notice a steep increase in food prices that genuinely shocked me, but the prices are still cheaper than most other countries.

Originally Posted by theshaun View Post
After moving across the world to settle on the west coast of Canada, I'm surprised to see that Megan and Harry are having to fly commercially on Lufthansa!

Looking forward to the rest of this report.
Thanks theshaun!
roadwarrier likes this.
SAtraveller is offline  
Old Jan 28, 20, 5:23 am
  #8  
Moderator, Trip Reports
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: 6km East of EPAYE
Programs: UA Silver, AA Platinum, AS & DL GM Marriott TE, Hilton Gold
Posts: 9,578
Nice trip report, thank you for sharing. I'm looking forward to the rest.
Madone59 is offline  
Old Jan 30, 20, 11:20 am
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Vancouver
Programs: Aeroplan, BA, QR
Posts: 310
3. The Cape Winelands

After a week in George and Knysna we fetched our rental car and made our way to Franschoek and Stellenbosch, the heart of the Cape winelands. This 4h drive was very pleasant and went through some really beautiful terrain until we arrived at our stunning hotel, the Banhoek Lodge. We have stayed at the Lodge before and it's just a delight with great views, friendly staff and a huge room.





Delicious french toast for breakfast

What the pictures don't adequately capture is that it was HOT. I've lost my ability to tolerate heat due to living in Canada, but wine farms can be challenging when the temperature is 39C and the air is still. Half the time I was tempted to dive into the nearest pond but I had to settle for drinking a lot of wine and water. Our first farm that we explored was Zorgvliet, mostly because it was only a ten minute walk from where we stayed.





Then off to Waterford Estate where we encountered a very pleasant estate, enthusiastic staff and a delicious wine and chocolate pairing. While there a large group of blond women came in and started drinking wine and laughing - turns out they were a KLM staff group who were touring the region.








The staff at Waterford recommended Uva Mira to us due to its great views over the ocean, so we headed down the road for our third and final stop for the day. We found that 3 wine farms are generally the most we can tolerate before we start feeling poisoned.




During all these stops we encountered tons of British tourists who had come to watch the cricket matches against South Africa. Local news estimated that over 10,000 UK visitors came for the cricket and I'd consider that to be a healthy tourist injection!

The next day we travelled 30km down the road to Franschoek, a smaller town with equally renowned culture and vineyards.




We purchased tickets for the wine tram and what a great investment it was. The tram takes you between various farms so that you don't have to drive yourself. Not only is it a novelty, but it's convenient too. There are many lines (blue, yellow etc) and if they're not manned by a tram then a bus will take you. The guides are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. The entire system is hop-on-hop-off so you can pretty much get picked up every time the tram comes past.





Our first stop was Grand Provence, which is one of my favourite farms. It's full of culture and art, and they have expanded it quite nicely. They even have a cheetah enclosure if you want to pay to meet cheetahs, which I'd highly recommend to anyone who has never touched these amazing cats. We sat down and enjoyed a lovely wine and nougat pairing. Their signature white remains my favourite white wine on the planet. Ever since I first tasted it several years ago I've never found a wine to match it. That is, if you like oaked chardonnays.





We also stopped by Rickety Bridge which is notable because it was owned by a woman, and that was almost unheard of 300 years ago. She did a great job though and the winery remains successful.



Finally, we stopped at Mont Rochelle, owned by Richard Branson. Apparently he comes by annually and the staff describe him as 'friendly but shy and introverted'. It was here that we enjoyed a canape and wine tasting that was particularly good.




That evening we traipsed down the road and explored the various restaurants before settling on some traditional Bobotie, which is a ground beef and egg dish that always hits the spot. Dessert is, of course, mandatory.






For our final day we headed off to Babylonstoren which is a must for people to visit. It's a massive wine farm with a great shop and restaurants, as well as an orchard and even walks to go on. It can be a half to full day trip if you make a day out of it.






Our final stop in Franschoek was at Dieu Donne that has average wines but a great view over the wine valley and is worth the trip.



After three days of wine and merriment it was time to head off to Cape Town, one of my favourite cities in the world.
offerendum and roadwarrier like this.
SAtraveller is offline  
Old Jan 30, 20, 11:21 am
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Vancouver
Programs: Aeroplan, BA, QR
Posts: 310
Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Nice trip report, thank you for sharing. I'm looking forward to the rest.
Thanks Madone59!
SAtraveller is offline  
Old Jan 31, 20, 1:01 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: DCA
Programs: AA EXP Marriott Titanium Hertz Gold
Posts: 226
Nice TR...but man your pics are really amazing.
kcmd is offline  
Old Feb 1, 20, 6:43 pm
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Vancouver
Programs: Aeroplan, BA, QR
Posts: 310
4. Cape Town

It only takes 30 minutes to get to Cape Town and we were soon on our way. As usual we booked a seaside apartment, this time through AirBnB. Set right on Camp's Bay, this turned out to be such a beautiful property with sensational views and easy access to the beach. It remained very hot even while we were in Cape Town but with a freezing ocean to dive into, things balanced out.


View from the top floor of our loft











The next morning we had a quick breakfast snack and were off to the V&A Waterfront where we spent a large portion of the day having fun. This included eating, shopping, seeing a movie and going for spa treatments.
















One of our later stops, though more in the centre of the city was Truth Coffee, which has been rated as the best coffee shop in the world more than once. It was very art deco I must say, but the coffee was good.











roadwarrier and deovrat like this.
SAtraveller is offline  
Old Feb 1, 20, 6:44 pm
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Vancouver
Programs: Aeroplan, BA, QR
Posts: 310
Originally Posted by kcmd View Post
Nice TR...but man your pics are really amazing.
Thank you kcmd, much appreciated!
SAtraveller is offline  
Old Feb 2, 20, 1:48 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 3,146
We stayed in Plettenburg Bay not too far from George. Regretted only having time for lunch in Hermanus. Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited. The only annoying thing
is having to be careful at night due to crime.
Bretteee is offline  
Old Feb 5, 20, 11:05 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington DC
Programs: AA Plt (2MM)
Posts: 151
Great TR...outstanding photos! Unless it's a trade secret, do tell (or hint) at your secrets...
Fly'nAAgain is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: