Flight check: Air Namibia A319 Business Class

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Background

Air Namibia operates two daily flights between Johannesburg and Windhoek, as well as an evening flight on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There are also three daily services to and from Cape Town, and flights to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Germany (Frankfurt).

Check-In

The check-in counters in Terminal A at O.R. Tambo International Airport opened two-and-a-half hours prior to take-off. There was a dedicated Business Class counter and the process of obtaining my boarding pass went smoothly. Business Class passengers are allowed two pieces of check-in luggage each weighing up to 32 kilograms, so my single suitcase was processed without a hitch.

Lounge & Boarding

Air Namibia makes use of the Bidvest Premier Lounge, situated to the right of the security check point and immigration. I helped myself to a portion of scrambled eggs and a cup of coffee after getting help to log onto the complimentary Wi-Fi. Besides a modest buffet of muffins, pastries and time appropriate hot dishes, there was also a selection of drinks – hot, cold and alcoholic – and newspapers. The flight wasn’t called in the lounge, but despite a good eight-minute walk to the boarding gate, I made it on time. There was no priority boarding for Business Class, but the flight was reasonably empty.

The Seat

Business Class seats are 53cm wide, with 137cm of pitch and 160º of recline. The seat is leather, with a small tray in the centre consol. The tray folds out of the arm rest.

Which Seat To Choose?

The A319 has 16 Business Class seats in four rows of a 2-2 configuration, with enough legroom that aisle access isn’t problematic for passengers in the window seats. As the only passenger in Business Class, I literally had my choice of seats and settled for 2A.

The Flight

Once seated I was offered a welcome drink and a newspaper, and the lunch menu was outlined for me. Take-off was delayed by 25 minutes, but once in the air the pilot made up for lost time. A second round of drinks was served, followed by the meal. The starter consisted of cold roast beef slices and a mango salad, and I opted for the salmon fish cake with roasted vegetables for my main course. The beef was a little on the tough side, but still tasty. The vegetables were done just to my liking, although I suspect some might consider them overdone. The meal was rounded off with a helping of cheesecake topped with a citrus jelly and accompanied by a berry coulis. Once the tray had been cleared, I accepted the offer of a large mug of coffee and settled back in my seat to catch up on some reading. The flight is just short of two hours and although I would have liked to get a bit of work done, I was reminded repeatedly that the use of electronic gadgets – including laptops – was not permitted. It does seem, however, that I interpreted the instructions incorrectly; it is only during take-off and landing that electronics need to be switched off.

Arrival

Due to the delay in Johannesburg, the plane touched down a little later than scheduled, although not 25 minutes late. The Ebola crisis in West Africa has prompted the Namibian government to question all passengers on their way into the country. I was given a simple form to fill out, stating that I hadn’t been to a West African country and wasn’t experiencing any of the symptoms associated with Ebola, which I handed to a lady wearing rubber gloves and wielding a thermometer. Before entering Hosea Kutako International Airport I had my temperature read by means of a scanner pointed at my neck. Once she was happy that I showed no signs of a fever, I progressed to immigration and stood in line with the other SADC passport holders. I then picked up my bag from the carousel and had to pass it through a scanner before I was permitted to exit.

Verdict

It may not have a lie-flat seat, but the legroom was impressive, as was the service and food.

Kate Kennedy

Contact
www.airnamibia.com