JNB airport help

Nov 26th, 2004, 04:47 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 56
JNB airport help

I am carrying on to Cape Town on my own after K&T safari and need some advice.

Arrive in JNB from NBO with 1 1/2 hours before flight to CT. Can't tell what terminal I'm coming in to but leaving from terminal 2 - don't know that my baggage will be checked through from NBO to CT (BA can't tell me as they are using local carriers)

What I want to know is how long to expect if I have to claim baggage, transfer and check in? I'd like to know what to expect as I have so little time.

Also, will I have time to visit duty free shops? I have been told JNB is good for electrical goods ie mini disc players and my son has put in an order! Does anyone know if this is the case or would I get the same choice/price in CT?
phil16 is offline  
Nov 26th, 2004, 05:19 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 72
If you had 2 hours I would have said it was fine, provided that the incoming flight ariives on time. One and a half might be cutting it a bit fine.

JHB airport can get hectic at peak times, for example on a Friday evening but otherwise its fine and things run smoothly. It's like any other airport - just follow the signs from baggage collection to your check-in desk. Not much worries on that front. If anyone offers to carry your baggage or a taxi ride, just ignore it. You'll do fine on your own.

If you fly the domestic leg on SAA and are in a high fare class getting onto the next flight is easy-peasy, should you miss your original flight (I have done this a number of times). SAA runs lots of flights each day between JHB and CT.

If you use the BA domestic flights (operated by Comair) then your choice of flights are somewhat more limited but then the possibility of having your luggage directly transferred is better.

I don't think the duty free shops are available to arriving passengers - they are located after customs in the international departure area.

Usually electronic equipment in South Africa is more expensive than in the USA and the UK, but you could go check prices at a place like H-Fi Corporation which has many branches throughout the country, including in Cape Town. Duty free shops are often a rip-off. Sure, you don't pay tax but they often make up for that with much higher profit margins so that in the end you pay more than outside the airport.
Province is offline  
Nov 26th, 2004, 05:59 AM
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Two-hours would be better, but we did it in less then that amount of time - arriving on an in-country domestic flight connecting to our homebound international flight - and had to wait for our tour operator to meet us with the packages we left with them when we spent time on safari. There were thousands of people checking in for International flights, but found the most efficient checkin process of any airport anywhere - did't take much time at all and had time to spare.

That said, and assuming your flight is on time, you should be arriving in the International Terminal. You will then depart from the Domestic Terminal, but they are connected and an easy walk, either indoors, passing some shops (not sure if any are electronics), or outdoors if you want some fresh air.

When we made the connection from JFK via JNB to CPT, on SAA, our bags were checked thru to CPT, but I recently read or it was posted on this board, that nowadays you have to collect your bags arriving Internationally and recheck them for a Domestic flight.

Arriving Internationally, you will come thru the lower level Baggage Claim area, but departure checkin is on the upper level - there are elevators that will take you to the upper level. So if your bags are on wheels, and if not, but on a cart, do the transfer yourself. If someone offers to help, thank them, but tell them no-thanks and go on your way.

Phil - time is close, bet you can't wait! Do enjoy.
Nov 26th, 2004, 04:20 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 56
Thanks to you both for your replies - this is just what I needed.

I agree 2 hrs would be better and that is my main concern. BA changed my NBO - JNB flight time and this is what they offered as the onward leg, it wasn't my original plan. I haven't found them really too helpful - they CAN'T say if my bags will go through and I CAN'T find out till I get to NBO check-in

If I knew they would then I wouldn't worry but I've just checked and the check-in desk closes 45 mins before departure at JNB so that leaves me only 45 mins to disembark, reclaim, transfer and check in!!
I don't think that's likely anywhere! so can't understand why they have offered it.

I don't want to spend the next 2 months sweating about this but can't decide whether to insist on a later flight or not?? Am I flapping needlessly?
P.S. The duty free is well forgotten
- thanks.
phil16 is offline  
Nov 26th, 2004, 10:04 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 72

It depends really. There have been cases where I've been VERY late at arriving at the airport but they've still checked me in without raising an eyebrow.

On other occasions I've arrived early and asked to be put on an earlier flight. They were happy to oblige and in some cases put me on a flight that was about to depart in 30 min. This was mostly with SAA domestic.

I think the 45 min rule is to "indemnify" themselves should you be late and they can't accomodate you because the airport is too busy with long lines at check-in.

At this point there are too many unknowns - it will depend on who your domestic leg is with and what your fare class is. If you are with SAA in a high fare class and you are late, it is a simple matter to go to the SAA helpdesk and get yourself onto the next flight, which should depart an hour or less later than your original flight.

Since you are working with BA I guess it is most likely that they will book you with BA on the domestic flight too. BA doesn't run as many domestic flights as SAA but they still run many. The safest would be to ask BA rather to book you onto the next domestic flight on the chosen carrier. This should not result in an excessive delay and then you won't have to worry about it any more.
Province is offline  
Nov 27th, 2004, 03:24 AM
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The NBO - JNB leg is the unknown carrier which is giving me the problem - JNB - CPT is with Comair.

I come in as a "world traveller" (int)and go out as a "traveller" (dom). The reason I'm not happy to leave things to chance is that my flights were bought in a BA "sale" and are on the "use or lose" basis, which makes it even more odd that BA have given me such a tight schedule.
I'm going to call them direct rather than email and try and get a definitive answer or a later flight.
phil16 is offline  
Nov 27th, 2004, 03:14 PM
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After speaking to BA still not sure? seems even if I can check straight through I might have to claim my bag at JNB and put it through again - tho' won't have to check in???

I'm more puzzled than ever but on their advice have left things as they are. At least I have it from them that they would be responsible for my onward flight if there's any delay.

Now I'll have to forget it and hope it works out
phil16 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2004, 10:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 251

A few questions I can answer for you:

Will you be able to check your luggage through in NBO? No, you will be entering SA in JNB and so will have to collect luggage and clear customs here.

However, the response that you will be able to check-in for your JNB/CPT leg is not that strange. It's one of two things, either they mean you can check in at the international arrivals terminal in JNB (more about that below), or they will "flag" you as an awaited/connecting passenger on the domestic leg. In this case they may be prepared to check you in and issue a boarding pass and then put your luggage in the forward cargo hold from the boarding gate.

There is a domestic check-in counter for SAA and BA/Comair in terminal 2 which is the international arrivals hall for SAA and their partners. From the info you have received from BA I think you will be arriving into terminal 1. If you need to check in again it is very easy, simply exit customs turn left, walk about 50 m and the domestic check-in desks are on your right. Don't stress about the different terminal numbers, unlike many US airports in SA this does not necessarily mean different buildings!
The domestic terminal is a separate building immediately alongside the international terminal.
If it all goes pear shaped, do not stress too much - BA/Comair have between 7 and 12 flights a day to CPT and as they have made the booking as a connected flight they should not have a problem in accommodating you on the next flight if you are delayed on their incoming flight.
traci_local_in_sa is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 09:22 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
Phil: Every day could be different but just over a week ago on a Friday I had your same circumstances. We were to arrive from Mozambique with an 1 1/2 before our connection to Cape Town. Of course the plane was late and we entered the international terminal 42 minutes before our connection. My wife grabbed our bag and took it through customs while I ran to bag storage where we had left a couple of bags. We then met at almost the same time in the next terminal. It took us 18 minutes and SAA did check us in just 20 minutes before our Cape Town flight. It was quite stressful but we made it. As others have said there are lots of flights to Cape Town so I wouldn't worry too much. You will have plenty of time unless your flight is late and then they should just get you on the next flight.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 12:27 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 56
Thanks to you both for adding to this, it has helped straighten it out

Not knowing is the worst bit and being tight for time adds to the stress.
Now I have a clearer picture of the airport, images of me legging it miles (with or without bag) between terminals fade. Understanding the not-so-strict attitude to check-in deadlines helps too! (BA don't tell you these things)

I'm sure by the time I'm there I'll be taking it all in my stride - but right now I just want to KNOW it's going to be okay.
My husband will certainly be happier going home leaving me if he knows I'm actually going to get somewhere! and my friend in Cape Town will be relieved to know I will arrive
Thanks again.
phil16 is offline  
May 11th, 2005, 04:38 PM
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I'm in a similar predicament.

I am flying from London to JNB on Virgin.

I then must catch another flight from JNB to Victoria Falls, but it is on BA/Comair.

I have 2 hours to make the connection. Is this enough time to deplane, claim luggage, clear customs, and then check in again for my seocnd flight?

Since the flights are on 2 separate airlines, I won't be able to check my bags through. Also, I'm not sure if I have to clear customs since I am connecting from an international to international flight.

Finally, does anyone know of any good maps of JNB airport?

The official website is very confusing.


It lists international arrivals as Terminals 1A and A2, international departures as Terminal A, and domestic arrivals as Terminal B.

I'd just like to get a mental image of how far and how fast I will have to run to catch my flight.
May 11th, 2005, 06:42 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 78
No need to run or collect your bags international departures is in the same terminal just to the left of passport control, you should have plenty of time.

Your bags will go through to Victoria Falls, it is only domestic transfers where you need to clear customs and collect your bags.
colind is offline  
May 11th, 2005, 09:34 PM
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My bags won't be checked through as I am changing carriers at JNB (from Virgin to BA/Comair).

That means I have to claim my bags once I deplane from Virgin and then check them in again for my BA/Comair flight. I'm still not sure if I will have to clear customs since it is an international to international transfer. Is 2 hours enough to do all of this?
May 11th, 2005, 10:51 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
Relax. Yes, you'll have to clear customs and check your bags for the new Int. departure, because of it being a different carrier. (That's what I thought, but I called BA/Comair and they confirmed this.) But provided your incoming flight is not significantly delayed, you'll have plenty of time.

Forget about a map, it couldn't be simpler. Colin is correct in saying that Int. departures is in the same terminal as arrivals, except don't try and follow his directions. After clearing immigration you'll then collect your baggage and go through customs. Then Int. departures is one level down, you'll just catch the elevator (there are four) or take the stairs. And no significant lateral walking required.

The "1A" and a "2A" for Int. arrivals are at opposite ends of the arrival hall, and not very far apart, probably not much more than a 100 yards. The elevators are about in the centre of the hall.

ArthurSA is offline  
May 11th, 2005, 11:04 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
Just to clarify, the reason that Colin's directions are incorrect is that he thought you could check your bags through. If you were on the same carrier you would take a different route to Int. transfers and you wouldn't reach either Immigration or customs.

Also, unless something has changed very recently, Virgin Atlantic arrives at A1. So as you exit don't walk straight, which would take you directly to the roadway and all the taxi touts. Take a left and look for the elevators on your right.
ArthurSA is offline  
May 11th, 2005, 11:08 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
A final comment. I've just looked at that A1 map and it's reminded me that there are escalators even before you reach the large elevators. That's obviously an option as well, depending on how much luggage you have.
ArthurSA is offline  
May 12th, 2005, 07:58 PM
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Thanks for the info, ArthurSA. It has really helped a lot. One last question: you mention international departures is one level down from int'l arrivals, but earlier in the thread someone said it is one level up. Could you clarify? Thanks again.
May 12th, 2005, 10:23 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
Yes, of course it is. Sorry, I was thinking OK horizontally but not vertically!. Down is parking, up is departures, arrivals is ground level.
ArthurSA is offline  
May 13th, 2005, 05:12 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
I forgot that this is an opportunity to use my recently-discovered d'oh smiley again.


(Anyone ever departed an airport from below ground level?!)
ArthurSA is offline  

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