We arrived at Pietermaritzburg Airport about two hours before our Airlink flight to Johannesburg, which was far too early. Thankfully, we were invited to use the Pietermaritzburg Aero Club, which served as a very comfortable lounge to wait for our flight.
Pietermaritzburg Aero Club Review (PZB)
After dropping off our rental car, we saw the check-in counter would not open for another hour (we had already checked in online, but my colleagues needed to drop their checked baggage off) and the gate area was closed. With just three flights per day on Airlink linking PZM with Johannesburg, this is a very quiet airport.
With time to kill, we walked outside to see what we could find. We noticed what appeared to be a café in the building next to the terminal. Indeed, the owner asked if we wanted something to drink. We asked if he had wi-fi and then he invited us into the Aero Club around the corner, a members-only club primarily intended for the civil aviation pilots that utilize PZB for private clients and for student training.
Inside, the lounge was quite spacious, with two large rooms filled with couches, tables, and chairs (the rear room had a bar).
There was also an outdoor area and even a swimming pool.
We sat down and made ourselves comfortable, connected to the internet, and enjoyed a very productive time. I ordered a cup of coffee (the cappuccino was powdered, so I just stuck to black coffee), which was perfectly acceptable and provided a caffeine punch to keep me awake after that coma-inducing lunch a few hours earlier.
The restroom reminded me of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles…
The lounge reminded me of my summer 17 years ago (oh how time flies…) in which I learned how to fly. I was based in Dover, Delaware and we’d fly from our base to little airports along the eastern seaboard. Many looked like this and had clubs or restaurants like this.
The coffee was good, the setting comfortable, and it really felt like we were in a faraway place, unlike the hustle and bustle we would shortly encounter upon landing at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg.
PZB is the type of airport you can show up 20 minutes before your flight departs and still make it. I love that. But if you ever find yourself early for your flight, walk on over to the Aero Club next door. The coffee and the hospitality were most appreciated.