Flight Check: Air Seychelles Airbus A330-200

Johannesburg-Mahé BACKGROUND: In mid-March Air Seychelles expanded its service to five weekly flights between Johannesburg and Mahé, operating on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Airbus A330-200 operates on flights between South Africa and the Seychelles on Fridays and Sundays, while the Airbus A320 operates on remaining flight days. The wide-bodied A330-200 is the first aircraft in the Air Seychelles fleet to provide HM Connect. The connectivity service allows passengers to connect their smartphone, laptop and tablet via wi-fi or mobile data (international roaming rates apply) between 30 minutes and 12 hours starting from €4.90 (data cap applies). The Seychelles-based airline has a fleet of three aircraft for international flights and six aircraft for the more than 200 domestic weekly flights throughout the archipelago. CHECK-IN: There is one business class check-in counter at O.R. Tambo International Airport, on the far left hand side of the international departures terminal. There was no queue at the business class counter when I arrived. Passengers can check the status of their flights and manage their booking online. Each business class passenger has a free 12-kilogram cabin luggage allowance and can check in two bags of up to 32 kilograms each. An additional 32 kilogram bag costs $225. LOUNGE & BOARDING: Business class passengers have access to the Shongololo Lounge at ORTIA ahead of boarding, where they may enjoy a hot or cold meal of soup, sushi, stews, salads, sandwiches and pastries, including sweet and savoury snacks, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments. The lounge offers a selection of newspapers and magazines and satellite television programmes. Boarding begins 40 minutes before takeoff, although as with all international flights passengers are advised to arrive at the airport three hours before departure. I was served champagne as I settle into my seat. THE SEAT: There are 18 business class seats arranged in a 2-2-2 seat configuration. The seats, upholstered in luxurious fabric business, convert into a lie-flat beds with a built-in massage feature and lumbar support. I recommend that you book your seat at the back of the cabin as there is far less foot traffic closer to economy class. THE FLIGHT: Three of the nine crew members are allocated to business class. Before take-off the cabin attendants took our meal orders from the Contemporary Cuisine Menu, which changes on a quarterly basis. It offers a taste of Creole cuisine and international flavours. I indulged in the poached salmon, smoked Kingklip and grilled prawn tail served with a baby potato and crème fraiche salad. It was soon followed by a tender Tandoori chicken breast served with saffron basmati rice and a green bean and tomato stew. I chose a dessert of black cherry tiramisu and fresh strawberries. The wine list consists of French champagne, a selection of two red and two white wines, international beers, spirits and liqueurs. Try the local Seybrew beer or Takamaka Rum. Once the lights were dimmed after dinner, passengers spent the remainder of the five-hour flight reading the bilingual Silhouette in-flight magazine, which features articles about the archipelago and onwards destinations, in English and French; or unfolded their 10.4-inch touch TV screen that offers a selection of latest releases: international movies in Arabic, Cantonese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish; live news channels; television shows; music; and gaming. ARRIVAL: The flight was slightly delayed, however besides this it was seamless. The aircraft parked in front of the terminal building and it was a 100-metre walk to immigration. South Africans don’t require a visa, but must complete the immigration form handed out onboard. Ours was the only flight at the airport and everything was processed quickly. Business class bags receive priority labels ensuring they are unloaded shortly after landing. VERDICT: Air Seychelles won four awards at the World Travel Awards in April, with its lie-flat beds and in-flight entertainment, the flight to Mahé will soon be over no matter how you choose to spend it. Iga Motylska CONTACT T: +27 11 326 440 E: airseychelles@border-air.co.za W: airseychelles.com