The South African Airways Lounge in Johannesburg is the flagship lounge for the airline and as such it is the grandest. Upon checking into the lounge, you are directed to the right for the Business Class Lounge, however of note, if you look left, you see that there is a First Class Lounge.
This was quite interesting to me simply because I was not aware that any South African flights offered First Class.
I later found out that South African does not in fact offer First Class on any of its routes but rather the First Class Lounge is reserved for long time members that had qualified for elite status for a long period of time.
I managed to talk myself into a quick glance into the First Class Lounge … for science.
The First Class Lounge was sparsely occupied as you would expect based on the qualifications required to access the lounge. There were more meeting rooms and areas that you could have a private conversation but the food and drink selection was the same as on the Business Class side. The only thing that the First Class Lounge had over the Business Class Lounge was that there were sleep rooms and more showering facilities.
In my estimation, the Business Class lounge is about 90% as good as the First Class Lounge so don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything when you visit. As the lounges share the same area, the views of the tarmac are very similar.
The transitional area between the First and Business Lounges has a storage area for your bags but because they are unsecured, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving my bags there, which is evidently how many felt based on the number of bags in the lounge and not in the cubbies.
As was with the South African Lounge in Cape Town, the food choices were lacking but since I had breakfast on the incoming flight, it did not bother me at all but if I hadn’t had the chance to eat, I would have been pretty unhappy with the food options.