No airline food

Air Chefs, the company that makes in-flight snacks for South African Airways, SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink, Air Mauritius and Swiss Airlines, is threatening to strike

This could mean that local and international flights might not be able to offer you a pre-packed sandwich, let alone your choice of a reheated chicken-or-beef dish.

SAA says there are contingency plans in place to ensure passengers won’t go hungry, but it is yet to release the specifics of these.

The union behind the possible strike advised passengers to pack their own food, but if that level of pre-planning is beyond you, there are easier options.

Here’s how to feed yourself for flights out of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, if pre-prepared meals are not available.

Hit up the buffet at a lounge

If you have access to the premium lounge offerings from SAA, you can partake  of “à la carte menu designed to suit every palate”, or so it promises.

Other lounges exclusive not to an airline but to other special groups; the SLOW lounges at major airports are open to many clients of FNB, and some loyalty-scheme members for the likes of British Airways and KLM.

If you do not meet any of the qualifying criteria, you can pay R210 for once-off access to a Bidvest lounge– though you may have to stuff your pockets significantly to break even on that.

Make a detour past arrivals before departure

All three of South Africa’s big airports feature Woolworths Food stores, with their selection of pre-packaged sandwiches and other snacks – they are just not convenient for departing passengers. All are in central terminal buildings, mostly positioned for arriving passengers. That means a slight detour on your way to the gate.

If you’re not a fan of fast food, and don’t want to fork up for an airport lounge, stopping in here to stock up may just be your best bet.

There’s another small catch: because they are in the public sections of airports, you have to take what you buy through security. If you are on a domestic flight there’s no restriction for liquids, but watch out for those on international flights.

These are your best bets for quick takeaways

OR Tambo: Chicken Licken has a branch in the heart of OR Tambo - and it’s received glowing reviews from travellers who’ve had a craving while passing through Terminal B.

Cape Town: Woolworths Food is the best bet for a quick sandwich or wrap - though it’s location before security might be an issue for some travellers.

King Shaka: Kauai is the healthiest - and freshest - takeaway food you’ll find at King Shaka.

And if you have the time for a sit-down meal before departure, try these restaurants.

OR Tambo: Airport Craft Brewers is the first airport restaurant on the continent with an on-site brewery. They have branches both sides of security, a food menu that includes everything from breakfasts to burgers, and craft beer priced similarly to that in the outside world.

Cape Town: Aside from the usual fast food offerings of Wimpy and Mugg and Bean, the only real option after security at Cape Town International is the Alba Easy Lounge with its wraps, burgers, and reasonable selection of wines.

King Shaka: Soaring Falcon Spur Steak Ranch is the best - if pretty much the only - real option for a sit-down meal while passing through King Shaka.

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