A review of SAA’s Platinum services

Some say it’s a blessing to be seated in the first few rows of the economy cabin; some say it’s a curse. But there’s a certain feeling you have when you take your seat in economy and you’re able to view the business class cabin. Is it jealousy as you view business class passengers sipping their Moet & Chandon? Is it longing for the spacious seats and adequate elbow room? Is it the mere legroom, the thought of arriving in London without bruises on your knees?

Perhaps the United Airlines passenger row had something to do with having a view on business class legroom.

The VIP experience with SAA starts long before boarding the plane, in fact, as a Platinum client you have access to the dedicated Voyager Platinum Call centre. Big deal? Absolutely! The staff at Platinum may just surprise you with their skills, not to mention knowledge. The booking process is actually pleasurable, and rumour has it SAA Special services are inclined to pay a little more attention to a request sent from the Platinum desk – making those VIP requests and waitlists easier, not to mention upgrades! Yep – it’s true, if economy class is fully booked and a Platinum client is left in economy, there’s a pretty good chance a Platinum client my find themselves in business class on boarding.

Airport services takes travelling to a whole new level. Did you think the VIP’s are the lucky devils queuing at business class check in? You’d be mistaken. SAA Platinum services actually provides a curb-side check in service where the very important don’t have to mingle with us mere mortals.

Imagine pulling up to the check in counter in your chauffeur driven Mercedes (courtesy of SAA to their Platinum clients), with SAA staff rushing to the car with luggage trolleys. It’s true – the only thing missing is paparazzi and screaming fans. Once in the building, take a comfortable seat, and perhaps sip a cappuccino as you’re checked in without lifting a finger. The staff smile like they do in adverts, and you think to yourself… this is where they’ve been hiding! The SAA staff will even have your bags wrapped for you – after all, the sole purpose of their existence in this secret road side check in counter is your comfort. Platinum even get’s you extra baggage allowance, a courtesy which is extended by all star alliance partners. You ‘ll only see your bags in London again, handled with care and attention thanks to that bright orange sticker “Priority Baggage” and just like that you’re free to make your way through customs and onwards to the lounge – even before you’ve finished your cappuccino.

Just before you reckon the travel experience is off the charts ridiculous, bearing in mind you actually haven’t boarded the plane yet, Priority Travel bumped up the VIP experience with a Fast Track through the queues at customs. Indeed, those long windy queues of people is avoidable with a dedicated customs clerk for diplomats which Priority Travel is able to arrange for their super duper important clients. Alright, I admit, the service is payable and surprisingly doesn’t cost as much as you’d think – but totally worth every penny as you whisk past the economy travellers.

Most of us may know that business class passengers head off to airport lounges before departure, and a few of us are even savvy enough to know that your local bank card may get you into the likes of the Bidvest lounge or Slow Lounge at Or Tambo. What you probably don’t know is that SAA owns two lounges at OR Tambo, the business class Baobab lounge and the Cycad First Class Lounge (Featured picture above). The latter reserved exclusively for Platinum clients only – even your business class seat on SAA won’t get you in.

What’s inside you may ask? Well.. not only quiet, comfort and solitude ahead of your long flight. The Cycad lounge offers every conceivable service imaginable. Ever heard of sleeping pods? – special low lit rooms for cat naps. There’s also a full business centre complete with boardrooms and meeting rooms. Shower rooms, with full shower facilities including plush towels. The food and beverage service is not quite that buffet counter of pre-packed mass produced nonsense – there’s a menu, there’s a waiter – again, their existence is purely for your comfort.  You don’t lift a finger.

Overall, the quality of food, personalised attention and friendly service received makes racking up those voyager miles seem like the logical thing to do. With Platinum in mind, I’d support SAA any day to secure my lifetime seat in luxury.

Boarding SAA’s new business class cabin, and being introduced to my host for the evening I could only roll my eyes in amazement as I felt sorry for the unlucky passenger in view of the business class cabin.

I simply couldn’t wait to get comfortable in my lie flat bed, complete with duvet and decent pillows as I tuck in for the evening.

All this luxury is exhausting after all…

Getting to Platinum:

Priority Travel offers a special voyager tracking service – to help you get to Platinum.  Monitoring your travel spend with SAA and offering an advisory service on which fares to book in order to secure your Platinum card for the next year.

How to get to Platinum:

  • 100,000 Tier miles per year
  • 6 Years in Platinum secures lifetime Platinum membership
  • Or 100,000 Tier miles on SAA only secures lifetime Platinum membership.

Benefits of Platinum:

  • Dedicated Voyager Platinum Call Centre
  • Priority waitlist
  • Chauffer service
  • Specialised curb side check in at Or Tambo
  • Extra baggage allowance
  • Preferential seating
  • Airport Upgrades
  • Dedicated airport lounge
  • Companion Cards