Airlink is a South African airline that operates flights to more than 45 destinations in 13 African countries and to St Helena Island. It is the largest airline in Southern Africa and has grown significantly during the pandemic, partly in response to the problems encountered by other airlines in the region. Airlink offers a business class service on selected domestic and regional flights, using its fleet of Embraer E170 and E190 E-jets. In this article, we will review what travellers can expect from Airlink’s business class, including the cabin layout, the seats, the amenities, the catering, and the lounge access.
Airlink’s E-jets feature a small business class cabin with only six seats in a 2-1 layout, located in front of the 92-seat economy class cabin. There is no divider between the business and economy class cabins, although a curtain closed once up in the air. The business class seats upholstered in high-quality blue leather and have large eye-level windows that allow in lots of natural light. There is also ample overhead bin stowage to accommodate carry-on items.
The business class seats on Airlink’s E-jets have a generous seat pitch of 39 inches (99 cm) and a seat width of 19 inches (48 cm). The seats are comfortable and spacious, especially for short-haul flights. The seats have adjustable headrests, armrests, and recline buttons, as well as individual reading lights and air vents. There are no power outlets or USB ports at the seats, so make sure to charge your devices before boarding. There are also no private entertainment screens on Airlink’s aircraft, so bring your own entertainment or enjoy the views from the window.
Airlink does not provide any amenity kits or pillows and blankets to its business class passengers, which understandable given the short duration of most of its flights. However, each seat has a seat pocket that contains a safety card, an inflight magazine, and a sick bag. There is also a coat hook at each seat for hanging jackets or coats. The lavatories located at the rear of the aircraft and shared with the economy class passengers. They are basic but clean and stocked with soap and paper towels.
One of the highlights of Airlink’s business class service is the catering, which is surprisingly delicious and well-presented. Depending on the time of day and the length of the flight, business class passengers offered a hot or cold meal, along with a selection of beverages. The meals served on china plates with metal cutlery and linen napkins, and include a starter, a main course, a dessert, and a bread roll. The food is tasty and fresh, featuring local ingredients and flavours. For example, on a flight from Johannesburg to Windhoek, the meal consisted of a smoked salmon salad, a chicken curry with rice and vegetables, a chocolate brownie, and a cheese platter. The beverages include soft drinks, juices, water, tea, coffee, wine, beer, and spirits.
Airlink has secured lounge access for its business class passengers at selected airports. The service offered on select E-jet flights on domestic and regional routes. Customers must present their boarding pass to the front desk lounge agent to access the lounge. No vouchers may issued. The lounges that Airlink uses are:
- Bidvest “Premier” Lounge: For all domestic routes offering business class. These lounges are located at Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg (domestic terminal), Port Elizabeth, East London, George, Nelspruit (Kruger Mpumalanga), Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Upington airports.
- Menzies “Shongololo/Mashonzha” Lounge: For all regional routes offering business class. This lounge is located at Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport (international terminal).
The lounges offer comfortable seating areas, complimentary Wi-Fi, newspapers and magazines, TVs, showers (at some locations), and a buffet of snacks and drinks.
Airlink’s business class service is a decent option for travellers who want to enjoy some extra comfort and convenience on their domestic or regional flights in Southern Africa. The service includes spacious seats with plenty of legroom, complimentary catering with local flavours, additional checked-in baggage allowance, priority boarding, and lounge access at selected airports. The service is not very luxurious or sophisticated compared to other airlines’ business class products, but it is adequate for short-haul flights. Airlink’s business class fares are also competitive and often cheaper than other carriers’ economy class fares on the same routes. Therefore, Airlink’s business class service is worth considering for your next trip in Southern Africa.