Nairobi Airport Layover

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Sep 14th, 2014, 11:20 AM
  #1
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Nairobi Airport Layover

I will be traveling through the Nairobi airport to/from Tanzania at the beginning of Oct. On our way home we have an 8hr layover. I'm am finding it difficult to find accurate and up to date info on the state of facilities after last years fire. Can anyone give me some recent feedback on their experiences. Are their any lounges that we get buy into? Does the airport have wifi? Are there restaurants or should we come prepared with snacks? We won't have a visa for Kenya, so leaving the airport is likely out of the questions.

Any help and guidance would be appreciated.
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Sep 14th, 2014, 02:53 PM
  #2
 
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No lounges to buy into.
Few restaurants. There is the Java Coffee House near Gate 14
There are a few hotels/restaurants a 15/min drive from airport. A Transit Kenyan Visa is only $20/pp... good idea to leave airport.

The Ole Sereni, and Eka get good reviews. Leave sufficient time to return to airport. Return taxi probably $25-30... negotiate before getting in... (it's $20 into NBO Center, so to hotels gotta be half). Otherwise have a good book.
Can't advise re WiFi as I don't travel with any electronics... the only quiet in my life, thank goodness.
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Sep 14th, 2014, 03:28 PM
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Here's a link with some info that might prove helpful:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic....html#60914991
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Sep 14th, 2014, 11:55 PM
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I did recently receive an email informing me the new KQ business class lounges are expected to open in early October. As KQ have been using what used to be the pay lounge as their business class lounge, I am guessing once the new lounges open the old lounge will revert to being a pay lounge ($30).

So maybe there might be a lounge you can use, that's if the new lounges open when expected in early October. But I wouldn't count on it. Last time I passed through NBO in Feb I did manage to pick up a free wifi signal in the airport.
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Sep 16th, 2014, 03:31 PM
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We passed through the Nairobi airport four times last month (August 2014). Evidence of the fire remains - the parking garage still serves as the international arrivals terminal (which, if nothing else, makes a great story!). However, I hasten to add that my DH and I very impressed with how smoothly the airport was running. Our two flights into Nairobi (from London Heathrow and Rwanda) and two flights out (to Arusha and Heathrow) all arrived and left on schedule. We and our luggage made all connections, including the connection between Nairobi and Arusha, where we had just two hours from the time we arrived from Rwanda to the time we left for Arusha. We had no difficulties whatever - given the circumstances, we were surprised and impressed by the airport.

I would describe the facilities in the airport as no worse than when we were in the airport in 2012 (prior to the fire) and no better. There was a business class lounge for the flight to Heathrow, but it just consisted of half of the regular departure lounge. In the business class half, there was a small table set up with drinks and snacks. Other than the snacks, the business lounge was the same as any other departure lounge in the airport. Neither part of the lounge had a toilet so, if you needed a toilet, you had to go out through the gate security and then enter through it again. I do not think entry to the lounge was set up in such a way that economy passengers could buy into it - I think passengers had to be flying business class. It was not offered when we checked in (although we didn't ask) and, other than the woman supervising the table of snacks, there was no one at the gate to arrange it/collect money.

There seemed to be free wifi throughout the airport.

There were two "restaurants" in the international departures area that we saw - basically fast-food take-outs (although one had a small seating area) with meat pies, sandwiches etc. Nothing to write home about but adequate in a pinch!

There is a functional (even at 9:15pm, when we arrived from Heathrow) Safaricom outlet in the international arrivals area.

Feel free to ask any further questions. CR
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Sep 17th, 2014, 01:57 PM
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I've several times recently had long layovers and I don't think it's particularly terrible.

I don't think it's worth the 12km trip each way to/from the Ole Sereni unless you're really sure you won't get caught up in traffic in either direction.

Java Coffee House has pretty good food, cold drinks and the usual coffees, plus tables and a couple of power sockets. It's not a difficult place to wait, even for 8 hours.

There is free wifi in the airport, but only for your first 15 minutes. Then you have to pay.

The new terminal, incidentally, is gradually opening and my flight from Antananarivo arrived there on 2nd September - but there are no facilities yet as far as I could see - just humming new escalators and shiny surfaces.

Safari njema!


Richard Trillo
The Rough Guide to Kenya
Kenya Programme Manager at Expert Africa
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Sep 17th, 2014, 08:34 PM
  #7
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Thanks all. This info is helpful. Sounds like in its current state Nairobi airport is possibly on step up from Ghana airport, but no Emirates business lounge. We are looking into changing our flight into Nairobi to avoid such a long layover. If not, we will have kindles and iPads loaded with books and movies. My friend and I are both too anxious to chance leaving the airport.
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Sep 19th, 2014, 01:47 PM
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Granted Richard has done the drive from airport into NBO city more often than I, but whether I arrive mid-afternoon, right smack when rush hour begins or other air carriers start arriving from 7pm forward with a bit of traffic, I've noticed that the back-up doesn't start till when your right past the 3 airport hotels mentioned - Ole Sereni or Eka, even Panari. I believe with 8/hrs you have the time for a pleasant dinner and time to return to JKIA (minimum 2/hrs) prior for your checkin and security for homeward flight.

Your decision, of course. So see how you feel once you land as I feel 8/hrs is a long time hanging around for a flight, even if you find a seat at Java House when others are giving you the 'evil' eye wanting your seats
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Sep 29th, 2014, 09:14 PM
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We spent a little time in Nairobi and the beginning and end of our trip to Kenya in July, staying at Ole Sereni. If you end up with a longer layover for some reason, I would definitely recommend heading to Ole Sereni for a meal and to relax on the balcony overlooking the Nairobi National Park. But I don't think I would leave the airport with an 8hr layover or less.

If your luggage is checked through to your final destination, it might be a simpler process for you, but our check in took a rather long time. And we had to go through security 3 times before boarding a British Airways flight - two of these lines being at the gate. (Btw, if anyone reading this is flying British Airways you need to be able to power up ipods and other electronics.)

Hope you have a great trip!
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Sep 30th, 2014, 12:57 PM
  #10
 
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There is a reason I travel incommunicado with no electronics whatsoever. Who needs to be bothered.

On last visit my backpack went thru about 4-5 times as something kept appearing on the xray that the agent couldn't find. Eventually she did and it was a snub-nosed children's scissor that is permitted on US flights, but for some reason not accepted at NBO. This scissor had probably been around the world too many times to count and yet no one noticed or cared as it couldn't cut paper if one tried.

So best to never have anything that might cause an agent any country to pause, wonder and further delay you the passenger.
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Sep 30th, 2014, 04:45 PM
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For us, it was flashlights/torches that caused us difficulty at the gates in Nairobi. The flashlights (Maglites) were in our carry-ons because they are vital on our campsites after dark, when we are self-driving and without a guide. Luckily, we had batteries in the flashlights, so we were able to turn them on and show the security staff they were functional flashlights.

The only other thing security staff questioned was a small plastic bag with (powdered) Tide laundry detergent, which I had stuffed in our first aid kit.
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Sep 30th, 2014, 04:47 PM
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Sorry - should have added - further to Richard's comment regarding wifi at the airport - we were on the internet in the international departures area for over an hour, and did not have to pay.
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Oct 12th, 2014, 12:03 AM
  #13
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I have returned from Nairobi and though I would share the experience. Overall everything was great, we decided to stay at the airport for our 8hr layover. We hung around the Java coffee shop for a few hours, had drinks and lunch. The food was really good, better than what I would expect for an airport coffee shop. The new area of the airport (gates 15+) is slowly opening, it is clean bright and has tons of seating. There are TVs with different programs and internet with 15min free access (per device) There are a few restaurants in the new area, which we didn't try but looked good. It seems like the lounges are the last phase to open.

Overall it was a perfectly pleasant experience. Very nice airport and staff.
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Oct 12th, 2014, 09:02 AM
  #14
 
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canadian-robin - while the agents had issues finding that snub-nosed scissor, I always have my small Maglight in that same carryon bag and never once was it brought to my attention. But your comment is a reminder I best be sure the batteries still work to indicate this harmless device works as just that - flashlight.
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