The Plane: Airbus A340.
Flight time: 11hr, 9mins. We left and arrived on time.
Frequency: SAA flies daily from Perth to Johannesburg, leaving at 11.50pm in Perth and arriving at 5am in Johannesburg (local times). Connections from New Zealand are provided via code-share partner Air New Zealand, who operate daily between Auckland and Perth.
How full: The plane was far from full on this Sunday night flight from Perth. There were plenty of empty seats scattered around the Economy cabin. A spare seat next to me gave me ample room to stretch out and sleep after dinner.
Fellow passengers: A mixture of families with young kids, middle-aged/older couples and some single expats returning home. Also a lot of Aussie and Kiwi accents on board.
My seat: 49A. The seat setup is 2-4-2 in the Economy cabin. My seat was comfortable and there was more than enough leg room. This was helped, obviously, by having no one next to me.
Entertainment: There was a mix of recent Hollywood blockbusters and international and South African films. Also a decent selection of local and international television series and music. I squeezed in a movie, a few TV shows and a stand-up comedy performance by South African comedian turned host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah. The entertainment system has a touch screen with USB and headphone jacks.
Service: The SAA staff were very friendly and accommodating throughout the flight and allowed plenty of time to sleep between meals without disturbing me.
Food: Very simple but tasty. There is a dinner service and a breakfast service on this overnight flight from Perth. I went for the chicken with rice and vegetables, rather than beef with couscous. The meal came with a bean salad for starters and a nice red velvet cake for dessert. For breakfast I had the eggs, sausages, hash browns and baked beans. The other option was a continental breakfast. Snacks and drinks are available throughout the flight, but most people seem to sleep between meals.
Toilets: Everything was in working order and clean when I visited.
Baggage allowance: One piece of checked luggage (23kg) from New Zealand through to Johannesburg.
Would I fly this again? Absolutely. It is a relatively quick route coming from Auckland (about seven hours to Perth and then 11 hours to Johannesburg) rather than flying via Asia. The timing of the flight is definitely its biggest appeal, however. Leaving at 11.50pm means you are ready to sleep straight after dinner and you wake up just before landing in Johannesburg at 5am. It's a very good way to get straight into the South African time zone.
Airport experience: Both Perth and Johannesburg airports were relatively quiet and organised at these times, so it was quick and stress-free transiting through customs and security. The SAA lounges in Perth and Johannesburg made the airport stopovers enjoyable, giving me the chance to sneak in a few local craft beers and some fresh hot food, as well as take a shower and change clothes before boarding the next flight.
Other comments: I flew from Auckland to Perth on Air NZ and then from Perth to Johannesburg and on to Nairobi on SAA. It was smooth sailing all the way and an easy transit at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. O.R. Tambo is the hub for connecting flights within Africa and SAA dominates the market, so it was easy to book my baggage right through to my final destination.