Airports in South Africa - everything you need to know about flying in the Covid-19 era

10 Jan 2022
In the space of just a few months Covid-19 has changed absolutely everything about travel. If you are going to be taking a flight within South Africa soon, or are looking at buying a domestic flight ticket, here's everything you need to know about the 'new normal' of flying in South Africa.

Pick up, drop off and transport to OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria Airport

GAUTRAIN: The Gautrain service to the airport operates daily with the first train departing Sandton at 05:30. On weekdays trains leave every 30 minutes and every 15minutes during peak hours, on weekends trains leave every 30 minutes. Find the timetable at If it is practical for you to do so, we recommend taking the Gautrain as it is currently the quickest and easiest way to access the airport.

PICK UP, DROP OFF AND PARKING: At OR Tambo International upper and lower roadways traffic is directed to the new official drop-off and pick-up at Level 2 in the Multi-Storey Parkade 1. If you plan to leave your car at the airport park in Parkade 2 South Level 3 or Level 4. If you are ordering an Uber at arrivals, pay close attention to the directions to the pick up points indicated in the app.

Note that only people who are travelling are now allowed inside the terminal building. Only a limited number of terminal entry points are open and at each you will be asked to show documentation proving that you are travelling. 
Check-in staff welcome the first domestic traveller to fly after restrictions were lifted

Airport screening

All travellers will be screened before entering the terminal. If you have a high temperature you will not be allowed to access the airport. You must wear a mask at all times during your time in the terminal and on the flight. There are also now vending machines at the airport selling masks should you need a spare. As with all other public buildings you will be asked to sanitise your hands at the entrance (there are also hand sanitising stations available throughout the airport).

DOMESTIC TRAVEL QUESTIONNAIRE: At the entrance to the airport you will also be asked to complete a questionnaire detailing your recent travel history. You can also download it online here and print this out and complete it at home beforehand to bring with you. 

Check-in process

Passengers are encouraged to check-in online before reaching the airport to speed up the process and minimise contact at check-in counters. Alternatively, you can also make use of the self-service check-in machines in the terminal. All checked-in luggage must be wrapped and there are numerous baggage wrapping stations inside the terminal to do this.

Security and boarding

Passengers need to scan their own boarding pass at all security checkpoints and at the boarding gate. You will need to remove your mask briefly to verify your ID at security and before boarding. It is important to continue to follow the standard rules for boarding and disembarking the plane. Be patient and help maintain the appropriate social distancing by only approaching the gate desk to board when your row numbers are called.

During the flight

You must wear your mask throughout the duration of the flight. Rather ominously the airport authorities say they may be required "to offload you" if you do not comply. No food or drinks will be served during domestic flights, although you will find a bottle of water on your seat to keep hydrated during the flight. There will also be no more inflight magazines provided.

When the plane lands don't be one of those annoying travellers who races to get out the moment you hit the tarmac! For one thing, you shouldn't leave your seat before the plane reaches the terminal anyway. Secondly rushing into the aisle to get out of the plane before everyone else makes social distancing impossible to manage. Similarly travellers are asked to not overcrowd the baggage collection carousel on arrival. Be patient!

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