We were early for our flight SQ479 outbound JNB for SIN as our airport transfer insisted we be at the airport 3hours before departure. As we did not have anything planned further in JNB, we agreed to the arrangement. We need not however have worried as both traffic and check in were smooth. OR Tambo is a huge airport with the bulk of international flights in and out of South Africa, but at 1045am, it was fairly quiet.
The lounge is airside after immigrations towards the A side gates, which suited us fine as we would be departing from gate A16/17. A point to note is in OR Tambo, premium and economy class passengers do not board the plane at the same gate but at adjoining gates.
The lounge is a shared lounge for all Star Alliance carriers and is located up a flight of stairs (although there is an elevator as well for those with lots of duty free purchases).
The lounge is located to the right of the stairs and there are a few lounges on that level as well. At least one lounge accepted Priority Pass cards.
Upon presentation of our boarding passes, we were told that no announcements would be made for flights and we were to monitor the timings for our departure. We were then invited to proceed into the lounge.
The lounge is located down a curved windy hallway and once inside, it opens up into a big spacious hall with a variety of seats, tables, partitions and quiet rooms.
When we were there, the lounge was crowded and breakfast service was winding down with lunch service about to start. In the center of the lounge lies the buffet where there are the usual cold cuts, yogurt, fruits and drinks. The drinks bar was manned by a grumpy old chap when we were there and most customers were treated as irritants when they approached him for the house pour beer, water or chips.
There was a limited selection of hot food but due to the number of patrons, the food tended to be half empty most of the time and generally unappetizing.
Wifi was adequate and since we were going to be served lunch on board, we decided to just have a drink and snack.
For planespotters, the lounge oversaw the tarmac where a number of old planes used by the central and northern African countries were visible.
The lounge is functional and serves its purpose but is probably not as premium as it tries to portray itself as. I wouldn’t bother to go to the lounge early unnecessarily unless it’s for transit passengers.