The South African Airways (SAA) VIA Lounge at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport, Domestic Terminal, is conveniently located immediately after security, on a mezzanine overlooking the concourse and the tarmac. Don’t be discouraged by the long security lines or by the lack of proper signage or a dedicated premium line: just line up anywhere on the left or right side of the security checkpoint; the lines move fast and soon you’ll be on your way to bliss.
Opened in October 2015, the new SAA VIA Lounge is a bit of a showcase facility for the South African flag carrier. The successor of the former domestic Baobab lounge offers a dizzying array of services and amenities for domestic travelers, in a gorgeous setting. In addition, SAA Voyager Platinum Card holders have access to the VIA Platinum Lounge, a smaller, more private area to the right of the reception desk. Most travelers, though, including Business Class and Star Alliance passengers, will be directed to the main VIA Lounge to the left.
South African Airways VIA Lounge JNB design
You may not want to judge a book by the cover, but the mere décor of a reception area can be revealing. The design of the South African Airways VIA Lounge at Johannesburg airport, conceived by a Johannesburg-based firm, impresses and intrigues right away: a dizzying arrangement of tungsten light bulbs draws the eye and invites the traveler to follow the hallway to the main lounge area.
The hallway opens onto a living room like space with a homey vibe. The alliance of soft and natural colors, the choice of materials – exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, ceramics – the play of lines and angles – with “V” shaped beams that hint at the “VIA” name – foster a warm and genuine ambiance.
The design is the opposite of cookie cutter; it is truly unique, definitely posh, and yet never ostentatious. There’s a strong local vibe, but none of the clichés that often define Africa. The VIA lounge design showcases a modern and up and coming country with deep roots, and an eye towards the future. It feels good to stop by, grab a seat, or maybe just stare at the rising sun.
Indeed, the views are not to be missed. The lounge benefits from floor to ceiling windows, which reveal grand views on the tarmac, as well as expansive vistas on the city and landscape beyond – sunrises and sunsets are a sight to behold.
The VIA Lounge features a variety of seating options. For a front row by the sunset, consider table-top seating which runs along the windows, or perhaps settle at one of the large communal tables. For more privacy, choose one of the many comfortable seats – all come with side tables and offer a healthy amount of privacy thanks to head level dividers. Groups may enjoy the booths with coffee tables in the first room. Universal power outlets and USB plugs are available at every seat, throughout the lounge.
The buffet and bar areas stand out as centerpieces of the design. With unique features and bookcases displaying local modern art, they efficiently bridge the gap between tradition and modernity, and design and convenience.
Overall, the design of the South African Airways VIA domestic Lounge at Johannesburg airport is a winner – and a substantial upgrade over the former incarnation of the space as a Baobab lounge.
South African Airways VIA Lounge JNB amenities
The South African Airways VIA Lounge at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport boasts a strong line up of amenities worthy of a superior international business class lounge – all for domestic passengers.
The food and beverage offering is a major highlight. SAA offers a selection of snacks, cold cuts, appetizers, and hot entrees throughout the day. In the morning, a full English breakfast spread is available. The drink selection steals the show – we love the delicious fresh guava juice and other local fruit juices. Self-serve soft drinks are available from a cooler, and an espresso machine is available, but if the mood strikes, head to the bar right around the corner from the buffet where the friendly bartenders and baristas will craft the concoction of your choice. There is also bottled water to go.
A luxury at a domestic lounge, several shower suites are available. The design is exquisitely modern and upper scale, with high-end finishes and flushing controls from the future, though the shower cabins themselves (with rain showers) are definitely on the small side. Towels are provided, as well as basic amenities (wall-mounted gel dispensers.)
Other amenities include a selection of newspapers and magazines, a fun kids’ room with toys and splendid views, a few shared computers, and naturally, complimentary Wi-Fi, though it was somewhat slow when we visited.
South African Airways VIA Lounge JNB bottom line
The South African Airways VIA Lounge at Johannesburg airport’s Domestic Terminal is spectacular, and showcases the best of what the airline has to offer. Incidentally, the domestic VIA lounge is vastly superior to the international Baobab Premium class lounge, though we expect SAA to eventually remodel the latter.
The VIA Lounge combines a genuinely unique and inviting design with an outstanding set of amenities – hot buffet, barista service, fresh fruit juices, showers, and a kids’ room. Great views, cheerful staff, and a convenient location round up the experience. Well done, SAA.
You may have access to South African Airways VIA Lounge as a premium customer of one of the following airlines, or as an elite member of their frequent flyer program. Check the Access rules tab for more details.
Access for eligible customers traveling on any Star Alliance member airline.
ANA (NH) Aegean (A3) Air Canada (AC) Air China (CA) Air India (AI) Air New Zealand (NZ) Asiana (OZ) Austrian (OS) Avianca (AV) Brussels Airlines (SN) Copa Airlines (CM) Croatia Airlines (OU) EGYPTAIR (MS) EVA Air (BR) Ethiopian Airlines (ET) LOT Polish Airlines (LO) Lufthansa (LH) SAS (SK) SWISS (LX) Shenzhen Airlines (ZH) Singapore Airlines (SQ) South African Airways (SA) TAP Air Portugal (TP) Thai Airways (TG) Turkish Airlines (TK) United (UA)
South African Airways VIA Lounge at Johannesburg - O.R. Tambo International (JNB) welcomes:
- SAA Business Class passengers departing on a same-day flight (+1 guest)
- SAA Voyager Lifetime Platinum Card holders departing on a same-day SAA or Star Alliance flight (+3 guests)
- SAA Voyager Platinum Card holders departing on a same-day SAA or Star Alliance flight (+2 guests)
- SAA Voyager Gold Card holders departing on a same-day SAA or Star Alliance flight (+1 guest)
- SAA Voyager Silver Card holders departing on a same-day SAA or Star Alliance flight (no guests)
- SAA/NEDBANK Platinum Credit Card holders departing on a same-day SAA flight (no guests)
- First Class passengers, departing on the same day on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline (+1 guest)
- Business Class passengers, departing on the same day on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline (no guests.)
- Star Alliance Gold passengers, departing on the same day on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline in any class of service (+1 guest)
- Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum and Gold members departing on a same-day flight SAA flight (+1 guest)
- United Club members departing on a Star Alliance flight (no guests)
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members departing on a Star Alliance flight (no guests)
Guests must be departing on the same day on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline.
When flying Star Alliance
When flying Star Alliance. Worldwide membership only.