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Tulips

Nairobi Airport

8 posts in this topic

Dear me, I was not totally prepared for this airport and ended up very stressed out :huh:

 

The lodge suggested I get to the airport two hours ahead of an international flight.  So, we left 3 hours ahead allowing for the horrible roads and traffic (worst I have ever seen anywhere).  It did take an hour to get to JKIA.

 

On arrival, you have to get of the car and have your bags scanned.  Then you drive to the departure terminal.  There, you immediately have to have all the bags scanned again.  People didn't realize you have to push your stuff through, so this caused a delay.  Then, you can finally go to the bag drop.

 

Then, you have to go to passport control.  I spent half an hour in line here.  What should have been a simple stamp in the passport was taking forever because they were photoing and fingerprinting everyone.

 

Then, you have to go through security and have the bags scanned yet again.  They were also having everyone scanned in those machines.  So this took a long time. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for security, but three bag scans does seem excessive.

 

So, I got to the gate 15 minutes before boarding began.

 

Moral of this whole post, make sure you leave lots of time if you are departing from JKIA.  Perhaps some of you know this already, but I certainly did not and was freaking out that I might miss my flight.

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@Tulips Glad you made your flight. Yes security at JKIA is tight for very good reason. I always aim to arrive at the airport 3 hours before a flight in Africa as delays getting there and getting through the process are likely. It has taken me over an hour to get checked in and through security and passports at Johannesburg before now (and that's without the fingerprinting). 

Hope the blood pressure has settled!

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Sorry to hear of your travails @Tulips.    I always try and leave JKIA to come home on a weekend (Sundays up to this point) so that traffic is not insane going to the airport.  

 

Your passport control experience sounds much longer than the two I have had - perhaps because you're traveling at the high season?

 

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Posted (edited)

Sounds very stressful.  :(

 

I had to really think about our trip back to Nairobi airport... my memory of arriving is vivid but heading home, I turned into mush.  We returned from the Mara on the afternoon flight, getting to Wilson airport at around 5 (really don't remember!) Our driver offered to stop for dinner, but we opted to go straight to JKIA and look for food there.  Because we were so early (like 5 hours early), check in was quicker than expected. I remember it being really crowded by the gates and you couldn't enter the gate area until your flight was called, which meant people sitting on the floor and standing in line and generally being very congested and HOT.  

 

We found a bar with a table for four; I had to strongly warn my friend's daughter not to expect authentic Mexican food in Nairobi.  ;)  We were delighted to bump into a woman with whom we shared our vehicle at three different camps, so we asked her to pull up a chair and exchanged notes on what we'd done and seen since last together.

 

Thank you, @Tulips, for taking the time for the warning.  I'm heading back to Africa in a couple of months and will be sure to pad an extra hour or two en route to the airport to keep my sanity.

 

EDIT:  Oh yeah!  I'd totally forgotten that we'd had to get out of the car, go through a scanner, and then get back into the car to drive to the terminal.  That was really weird to me, as we didn't take all of our luggage out of the car.  What was the purpose of that?  Plus if we had something nefarious in mind, we could have just left it in the car. I'd love an explanation of that.

Edited by AmyT

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@Tulips

 

I can't remember if you will also be flying out of Kigali, but if so, you have to go through the exact same process. 3 hours early is recommended there as well. 

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I would agree on Kigali unless your flight is at 7 a.m. as ours was.  We got there at 5 and the only people working were the security guards out on the sidewalk.  Once inside the terminal, we had to scour the premises to beg someone to check us in and take our bags.  And post-security nothing was open and we weren't allowed near the gates until 6:15.

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Thanks everyone.  Flying out of Entebbe, so will will make sure to allow lots of time.

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Posted (edited)

Our best memory of Nairobi airport was on our return home from our Southern and western Tanzania trip. We had ten hours to kill at the airport and were advised by ATR to pay to use the Pride lounge - $40. It turned out to be worth it. Relaxing , quiet, loads of comfy sofas/ arm chairs, showers if you wanted, loads of iPads connected up to to fast Wi-Fi, an endless supply of hot and cold food that was changed/replaced every hour or so, and a very wide range of soft and alcoholic drinks including premium brands, Totally relaxing.

Superb !

 

Edited by Julian
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