When Lift Airlines hurtled down the runway at OR Tambo International Airport yesterday (26 October 2022) for its inaugural flight to King Shaka International Airport, I was lucky enough to be aboard.
I was slightly concerned that I would be too late – the drive to the airport was held up by a broken-down bus in the middle lane of the N3 near William Nicol and the right lane was closed for a few kilometres about 10 kilometres after that. Thankfully, there was no queue at the check-in desk and my Premium seat booking allowed me to fast track through security. It also helped that the boarding gate was almost directly opposite security.
My Premium ticket came in handy again as, despite my hurried arrival, I was the first person in the priority boarding line and the third passenger on board, after the two assisted passengers. All passengers on this very full flight boarded through the front entrance, so it took a while to get everyone on board. But I was comfortable in my roomy seat while this happened.
Lift’s fourth generation Airbus A320 is fitted with 12 Premium and 150 economy seats. The first three rows take the regular 3-3 layout and convert the six middle seats into additional tray spaces for passengers. There’s also a very generous 37 inches of legroom. That’s a fair bit of space for a low-cost airline. The seats in the Premium section are also more luxurious than economy seats, with decent padding and a moveable headrest.
I was initially seated in seat 1C, but after requesting a belt extender, was very politely and discreetly moved to a more appropriate seat. I didn’t realise that being too large to fit into a regular seatbelt was seen as a possible hindrance to emergency evacuation, but I certainly wasn’t unhappy to swap seats with a passenger two rows back.
We pushed back a few minutes late, but I don’t think anyone else noticed. The atmosphere onboard was cheery and excited. Friendly cabin crew offered cupcakes to all passengers as a celebration before the catering service began. A Premium ticket includes drinks, served in glasses, and a light snack served on ceramic crockery. The drinks menu includes sparkling wine, gin, whiskey and mimosas alongside tea, coffee and soft drinks. I opted for a Vida e Café filter coffee, which was really decent. The snack platter offered a serving of hummus with a warm mini pita, a square of watermelon with a dollop of curry mayo, and an absolutely delicious morsel of cheesecake topped with berries and a compote. Needless to say, I polished off the entire plate.
There was just enough time to clear away the plates and glasses before we began the descent and we touched down on time with a cheer of applause from the passengers. The plan was met with a water cannon near the gate and a few minutes later, we were disembarking.
All-in-all, it was a really pleasant trip. I’m not sure that a Premium seat is necessary on such a short flight, but I found the whole experience to be enjoyable, and it’s good to know that the option is there.