Clearing immigration in South Africa

Jun 16th, 2005, 01:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 159
Clearing immigration in South Africa

How fast can you clear customs & immigration in Jo'burg?

I will be landing at 9 AM (hopefully) and the last flight out of there to Victoria Falls is at 11:25 AM. Do I have any chance of making this connection?
lessthanzero is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 02:12 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097
lessthan zero,

Its going to be a very close call!

So much depends on whether your 09h00 flight is on time. I think you should allocate 45 minutes from touchdown to getting thorugh customs and immigation.

That means that you will be at the 09h45 mark. Your Vic Falls flight needs you to be at the checkin by 09h25 however I dont think it will be a problem if you arrived 30 minutes late. The terminal will be the same building of your arrival so you wont need too much time to get from arrivals to departures. Its a VERY VERY CLOSE call. One small hitch and you can be blown off your schedule eg. if your plane comes in at 09h15 I dont think you will make it. All in all if you asked my opinion I would say dont do it!

Just my twopence worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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I agree with Selwyn as to alot depending on the timeliness of the 9:00am flight.

However, if your ticket to JNB and ongoing flight to VFA are "one-ticket" under the same locator number, then the second flight knows you are coming in from a connecting flight. In this case, the 2-hrs prior for Int'l check-in is waived.

What I'd do is call the airline of your VFA flight (if not [or even if] the same as the incoming Int'l flight) and advise them that you will be connecting from a inbound Int'l flight - give them that flight number and be certain they mark the records of the VFA flight with this information.

With 2-1/2 hours and if the 9:00am flight is on time, you should be okay - but remember that you'll have to collect your luggage and recheck it.
Jun 16th, 2005, 04:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,766
I come into JNB around 9:30 and even 10 and have never had a problem making the 11 to Mala Mala. Once we even had to go pick up tickets at the SAA desk then check in and we still ahd time to kill.

It definitely helps to be as close to the front of the immigration line as possible, a good tip is to choose the lines closest to those for SA citizens, they will empty and then call over the non citizens standing in line. Also if there are two or more of you, get in separate lines, then link if one moves faster. In my experience being at the front gets you through immigration well before the bags come off the plane.
If you are worried about where to go, have the porter help you, we have in the past and they will take care of everything and make sure you head in the right direction. The $5 I give them is not much to me, but a heck of a lot to them.
napamatt is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 06:06 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

I don't think you will have any problem, whatsoever, providing your flight arrives no more than 30 minutes late.

Like last year, I will be arriving at 9:30AM into Joburg, and then have an 11:40AM flight to Lusaka. If anything, there was too much time and I regretted getting on the first bus from the departure gate to the plane (there were about three buses). I think we were on the plane for 30 minutes by the time the final passengers boarded.

Are you flying on the same airline to Victoria Falls as you are flying into Joburg? If so, this will help even more, but even if not, you should have plenty of time.
Roccco is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 06:21 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 150
It will be very close. Last year I came in on KLM arriving at 10:00pm. Despite being in business and first off the plane a flight from Namibia had just landed and it took at least an hour to get through immigration (fortunately I had nothing checked).
The other problem is if the plane does not park at the terminal and you have to get a bunch. Jo'burg is a good airport but it is ridiculous how they have so few gates and so many flights park remotely. This happened to me last year as well arriving on SAA from Lusaka. Ironically, even with the bus it took less time to get through immingration. It is a good idea to stand near the line for RSA citizens. I did that and got called over to an empty desk once the RSA citizens line had cleared. Customs is very fast.
laguna92688 is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 06:23 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 150
One other thought. Since you are travelling to Zimbabwe-do you even need to go through immigration? Couldnt you just get your bags checked to VFA from wherever you are catching your flight to JNB and not have to go through immigration?
laguna92688 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2005, 03:04 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 159
THanks for all your replies.

I am flying in on SAA from the US and will be leaving on BA (Comair) and so I don't think I can use the connection argument and count on the airlines to fix my issue. SAA will totally not care, and BA/Comair has little incentive.

Calling the airline locally might work. Does anyone have BA/Comair's local number? (I doubt calling the US number for BA will get me far.)

I will pack everything as carryon (having lost too much luggage in my time anyhow) so I will not lose time waiting for bags. The tip on the immigration lines is a good one. thanks!

Finally, does anyone know if I will have to clear immigration if I am continuing directly to VicFalls? (Does anyone know where I can find out?)
lessthanzero is offline  
Jun 17th, 2005, 05:16 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
If you only have hand luggage, that solves one problem. Because being on different airlines would have meant you couldn't check luggage through.

I don't know that calling BA/Comair will help get you on any special list, but if you want to call, the number (in Jo'burg) os +27 11 441-8600.

If anyone tells you it's a 0860 "S.A. long-distance toll-free" number (i.e. a "local" call from anywhere in S.A) that's incorrect. They did away with that number recently, although it's still in the current phone directory. Cynic that I am, I have assumed it was for cost reasons. A pity, because I found it easy to remember - the rest of the # was made up of 011 (the Jo'burg dialing code) and 747 (a la Boeing).

I called the new # and it took three attempts to get through, it was engaged twice. Then the first voice-menu doesn't have an "International" option, the operator said they're aware of that and are going to fix it! But that wouldn't have been the right option anyway, your Vic Falls flight is classified as "Regional". So menu option 1, Domestic and Regional, is correct.

The question I asked them was to confirm what I already thought. That is, although it's a "Regional" flight, it's also International. So you don't have to clear Immigration, you take the "Transit" route before that.

You will arrive at Terminal 1 (there are two Int. terminals). And although what I've described is pretty simple, if you'd like confirmation you'll find the Terminal 1 map at

ArthurSA is offline  
Jun 17th, 2005, 07:18 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 159

Did I see you on the LP forum as well? Anyway, thank you very much for your feedback!

It sounded like you actually called up to check for me? If you did, that is too much, and I hope I can repay you one day. If you didn't I still appreciate your extremely detailed and considerate reply!

You wouldn't happen to know if the VicFalls flight leaves from Terminal 1 as well? (But please don't strain yourself on my behalf. I am already super-grateful.

It sounds like a combination between only bringing carry-on, and not having to go through customs/immigration, could save the day.

lessthanzero is offline  
Jun 17th, 2005, 07:41 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
I'll cross-post my reply on LP . . .

It was no problem, just a quick local call from my w**k desk. And I knew about the change of number from a recent call for my own purpose.

Unlike arrivals, there is only one Int. departure terminal. (And all three are in any event in the same building anyway. So don't picture an enormous LHR-like thing!) And largely academic, just "follow the signs". I've never connected Int. to Int. at Jo'burg, but I imagine you'll end up going up a level because Departures is one floor up. If you go to that link I gave above, you'll see that is is called "Terminal A". But not that it matters.
ArthurSA is offline  

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