Flights in South Africa: The nine major changes to our reopened airports

Whether you're a frequent flyer or just someone who enjoys the odd getaway, you'll be pleased to learn that airports are finally starting to open their doors again in South Africa. After spending 10 weeks under various forms of lockdown, airlines are back in business – but things look very different from the 'normal' flights we once knew.

Flights in South Africa – why and where can people travel?


At Level 3 of lockdown, people are allowed to travel for business reasons only. Thousands of workers can now take flight providing they've got the necessary paperwork, and if they're heading to one of four designated airports. The locations allowed to operate under Phase 1 of the plan include:

  1. OR Tambo

  2. Cape Town International[*]King Shaka, Durban[*]Lanseria, Johannesburg

/\r\n/Fikile Mbalula has made an oversight visit to OR Tambo on Wednesday, to talk us all through how life in the terminals will look for the near future. Safety is paramount, but it all looks a bit… Black Mirror.

The new age: How airports and flights in South Africa have changed dramatically

PPE vending machines in Airports


We thought we'd start with a cracker…



Keep it under wraps…


All baggage is required to be wrapped going into the aircraft. Throughout all airport entry points, there are designated baggage wrappers who can conceal your cases.

Boarding passes for flights


Going forward, all passengers must scan their own boarding passes at the e-gates, eliminating the need for human interaction. Security officers can come and help travellers, but only if absolutely necessary.

Social distancing protocols at airports


Distancing rules apply for queues to board an aircraft. All self-service terminals have an attendant who can help passengers sanitise before using electronic equipment. Gaps of 1.5 metres have been marked on the ground. Sitting areas must keep two clear spaces between each seat, as illustrated by a masked Fikile Mbalula:



Sanitising all flights


All aircrafts are sprayed with disinfectanct before any new passengers board. Prior to take off, cleaning teams with initiate a rapid deep clean on-board the planes to ensure they remain disease free.

Strict control of movement coming to airports


Flights will only be allowed to depart and land at selected airports, but also, passengers and airport staff are the only people allowed inside the terminal buildings. Therefore, no accompanying members of the public will be allowed inside the terminal buildings. Pick-ups and drivers must wait with their vehicles outside.

Check-in protocols before flights


Passengers are advised to check-in online before going to the airport. Failing that, it's advised that travellers make use of the self-service check-in screens within the airports. The amount of physical check-in desks will be dramatically reduced, and strict social distancing rules still apply.



Accessing the terminals


Passengers must use drop-and-go facilities or public transport. No-one can hang about near the terminals. Limited parkade options – signposted at each airport – will be available for those who require them. Anyone entering an airport will have their temperature checked before being granted access to the building.

New essentials for your journey


Masks are compulsory for all, from entering the airport, through your flight, and up until you leave the airport at your intended destination. Business travel letters must also be kept readily available. The Airports Company website will tell you which terminals and entry points are opened or closed.