This is what a R100,000 first-class flight looks like – departing from South Africa

 ·14 Jan 2023

As South Africa’s domestic flight industry remains tight following several high-profile liquidations in 2022, international travel has again picked up and returned to some semblance of normalcy.

The latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that the air travel recovery continued through November 2022, with air traffic rising 41.3% compared to November 2021. Globally, traffic is now at 75.3% of November 2019 levels, the group said.

Notably, international traffic is reaching up, climbing by 85.2% versus November 2021.

“Traffic results in November reinforce that consumers are thoroughly enjoying the freedom to travel. Unfortunately, the reactions to China’s reopening of international travel in January reminds us that many governments are still playing science politics when it comes to Covid-19 and travel,” the group said.

Epidemiologists, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and others have said that the reintroduction of testing for travellers from China can do little to contain a virus that is already present around the world. And China’s objections to these policy measures are compromised by their own pre-departure testing requirements for people travelling to China.

“Governments should focus on using available tools to manage Covid-19 effectively—including improved therapeutics and vaccinations—rather than repeating policies that have failed time and again over the last three years,” it said.

With the ongoing recovery in the airline industry and coming off a busy December period, South Africans, like other international travellers, are once again venturing abroad.

Several airlines have launched or are in the process of launching new direct routes in an out of the country – while domestic airlines are currently building capacity. Among the flights available to South Africans, there are even those that cater to those seeking a more luxurious transit.

At least five airlines departing South Africa offer first-class tickets – four destined for Europe, and a fifth heading to the Middle East.

Not every airline has a first-class cabin, with many instead having a business class.

Although business class is far more luxurious than standard economy, it does not offer the same amenities as a first-class ticket.

According to elitetraveller, a noticeable difference is that a first-class seat is a private suite with doors that can close. At the same time, business class has seats that recline with more leg room compared to economy.

First class also offers a superior culinary experience, with high-end dishes like lobster and fillet steak not uncommon.

Furthermore, a first-class ticket will allow a flyer to access superior airport lounges. Business class may sometimes give access to similar lounges but deny access to specific amenities compared to their first-class counterparts.

Finally, first-class passengers will receive exceptional levels of service. They will receive large amounts of attention and will be first through check-in and the first to get their bags when they have reached their destination.

For first-class service, however, passengers need to pay first-class prices – and in a local context that means paying out around R100,000 or more for a ticket.

These are the five first-class flights that South Africans can fly now:

Air France

  • Destination: Paris, France
  • Departure: Johannesburg
  • Duration: 11 hr 5 min
  • Price: R193,745



  • Destination: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Departure: Johannesburg/Cape Town/ Durban
  • Duration: 8 hr 20 min
  • Price: R111,537


  • Destination: Frankfurt, Germany
  • Departure: Johannesburg
  • Duration: 10 hr 50 min
  • Price: R108,209

Swiss Air

  • Destination: Zurich, Switzerland
  • Departure: Johannesburg
  • Duration: 10 hr 50 min
  • Price: R94,983


British Airways

  • Destination: London, England
  • Departure: Johannesburg
  • Duration: 11 hr 30 min
  • Price: R77,007

 All data gathered via Google Flights. Prices are based on flights booked for Friday, January 20, to Friday, January 27. Different dates of travel will give different prices.

Read: ‘Fly-by-night’ school warning in South Africa

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