What would you do with a 6 hour layover in Johannesburg, South Africa?
I've thought this before, years ago when it was my first time flying through South Africa to Zambia. At the time I didn't think to look into the lounge options and ended up shopping around and passing time in basic cafes for hours. But after this layover, let me tell you all about the SLOW lounge!
Being a premier member with First National Bank (FNB) in Zambia brings quite a wonderful perk when flying through Johannesburg. I have wondered for years when we will ever get to take advantage of this and, finally! The day came on this trip.
Ndola does not have a lounge for FNB but Lusaka does, so it is definitely worth taking advantage of that for those who fly out of Lusaka. I used to often fly out of Lusaka but over the years have found it so much easier to not add on one extra flight and transfer. We also don’t usually go through South Africa because again, it means an additional 2.5hr flight plus a 5hr+ layover and often extends the entire trip by about 10hrs —which we truly felt this time around! But anyway, it was worth it in some ways to get to enjoy the Johannesburg layover before our flight with Qatar.
So here's all the details about the SLOW lounge at the Jburg airport!
Complimentary with FNB premier banking account. They allow the couple/party together per 1 card. Make sure to have your boarding pass, only need to show that and your bank card. Cost without association is about 400 rand (20 USD).
There really is not much more than a mug and bean cafe, a few other places to eat from. Don’t waste time with the shops and restaurants in the airport. Nothing is very impressive and the lounge is very comfortable with plenty to do.
Open 24 hours.
We arrived at 4am to the lounge and this was so worth it. Even if you do not receive a complimentary pass, I would say it is worth buying if you have a long layover. The food and drinks were still plentiful at this time. They keep the second part closed in the morning as it is pretty quiet and then open that portion around 2pm, which is also when the spa opens.
Book a massage as soon as you check in. This is complimentary service and they had many slots available when we checked right away. Pregnancy massages? Not really unfortunately, just a 10min foot massage instead of the full body 30min.
Along with beautiful bathrooms offering freshening up cosmetics, there is access to shower and changing rooms. We did not use it on our departure but on our return, we were so exhausted with not sleeping and needed something to kill the extra long middle of the night layover so we showered and changed and it helped our daughter fall asleep for a morning nap.
Near both buffets, you will find many bottles of wine with spouts on top to drink as you please as well as 2 full bars with unlimited options.
Open nonalcoholic bar.
As much as I missed out on many drink possibilities on this time around with being pregnant, I was very pleased by all the alternatives offered! Full espresso bar, teas, iced teas, juices, make your own espresso machine and a number of pre packed canned drinks.
Wide variety of appetizers, salads and 3 main entrees along with desserts, sandwiches and other snacks. This pregnant mama was in heaven! (Everything tastes 10x better when pregnant in case you didn’t know) and our baby girl was happily fed, too!
Seating and workspace.
It was not at all crowded when we were there with multiple different styles of tables, couches, bar seating all with multiple outlets for convenience with complimentary strong wifi.
Kid and family friendly.
There was no hesitation as we walked in with a baby and as a pregnant mama. The staff was very friendly with children and interacted a lot with our daughter. We also saw other young families with babies and children of all ages.
We've established that the lounge is definitely worth it, but how about banking with FNB for the premiere account on a daily basis?
Is premier banking with FNB worth it?
The first couple years that I banked with FNB I opened the base line account. Somewhere along the way, a representative recommended the premiere option and when looking into the features, it actually made the most sense. Along with having excellent customer service, never waiting in lines, and having a separate area that is more comfortable for banking services, there are a number of other reasons to make it worth it.
1% cash back (makes the higher monthly fees almost even out) if you use your card enough.
Option for travel health insurance.
Name is on the card as compared to base level cards.
Works well for online purposes.
No international transaction fee.
I typically use my Bank of America travel credit card for international purchases but love my FNB card locally in Zambia or as a back up abroad — great thing about that is there is no international transaction fee. Oddly enough, it worked better in Thailand than my American card so depending where you are traveling, it is great to have a back up plan. I have found in some experiences that you don’t have to pay american state tax for certain purchases when using the card due to the foreign card not having an American state address.
Do you bank with FNB and have you experienced any of their lounges? Let me know what you think!
P.S. None of this was sponsored, I just happen to enjoy my experience with FNB over a number of years and it was so nice to enjoy a perk from them while traveling!