O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)

Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa

Introduction

OR Tambo International Airport is located in Kempton Park, about 20 km east of downtown Johannesburg and serves as the major sub-Saharan hub.It serves as the primary airport for domestic and international travel to/from South Africa and is Africa's busiest airport with a capacity to handle up to 28 million passengers annually with non-stop flights to all continents except Antarctica.

Everything you would expect from a large international airport is here: plenty of restaurants, shops and ATMs.

 It was originally known as Jan Smuts International Airport (hence the airport's former ICAO code, "FAJS"), after South Africa's former prime minister of that name. The airport was renamed Johannesburg International Airport in 1994 when the newly reformed South African government implemented a national policy of not naming airports after politicians.The policy was however reversed later, and the airport renamed again on 27 October 2006 after Oliver Reginald Tambo, a former President of the African National Congress.

 

Airlines & Destinations

Domestic destinations within South Africa include: Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East London, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth and Upington. Some of the local airlines are South African Airways, British Airways (Comair) and low-cost carriers 1Time and Kulula.com.

OR Tambo International is one of the very few airports that have nonstop flights to all inhabited continents. There are connections from most important cities in Africa and worldwide including daily flights to and from London, Paris, New York and other major international destinations. Delta Air Lines runs flights from Atlanta to Johannesburg as the only major US carrier to fly to South Africa.

AirlinesDestinations
Air AustralSaint–Denis de la Réunion
Air BotswanaFrancistown, Gaborone, Kasane, Maun
Air ChinaBeijing–Capital
Air FranceParis–Charles de Gaulle
AirlinkAntananarivo, Beira, Bloemfontein, Bulawayo, Gaborone, Harare, Kasane, Lusaka, Maseru, Maun, Nampula, Ndola, Nelspruit, Nosy Be, Pemba, Phalaborwa, Pietermaritzburg, Polokwane, Sishen, Skukuza, Tete, Umtata, Upington, Vilanculos
Air MauritiusMauritius
Air NamibiaWalvis Bay, Windhoek-Hosea Kutako
Air SeychellesMahé
Air ZimbabweBulawayo, Harare, Victoria Falls
ASKY AirlinesLomé
British AirwaysLondon–Heathrow
British Airways
operated by ComairCape Town, Durban, Harare, Livingstone, Mauritius, Port Elizabeth, Victoria Falls, Windhoek-Hosea Kutako
Cathay PacificHong Kong
CemAirHoedspruit (begins 7 August 2017), Lephalale, Margate, Plettenberg Bay, Sishen
Delta Air LinesAtlanta
EgyptAirCairo
El AlTel Aviv–Ben Gurion
EmiratesDubai–International
Ethiopian AirlinesAddis Ababa
Etihad AirwaysAbu Dhabi
FastjetDar es Salaam, Zanzibar
Fastjet
operated by Fastjet ZimbabweHarare
FlySafairBloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East London, George, Port Elizabeth
IberiaMadrid
Interair South AfricaDar es Salaam, Ndola
Kenya AirwaysNairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
KLMAmsterdam
Kulula.comCape Town, Durban, George, East London
LAM Mozambique AirlinesBeira, Inhambane, Maputo, Pemba, Quelimane, Tete, Vilanculos
LATAM BrasilSão Paulo–Guarulhos
LufthansaFrankfurt
Malawian AirlinesBlantyre, Lilongwe
Maluti Sky
operated by MGC AviationMaseru
MangoCape Town, Durban, George, Port Elizabeth, Zanzibar
QantasSydney
Qatar AirwaysDoha
RwandAirKigali, Lusaka
SaudiaJeddah
Swaziland Airlink
operated by AirlinkManzini
Singapore AirlinesSingapore
South African AirwaysAbidjan, Abuja (suspended), Accra, Blantyre, Brazzaville, Cape Town, Cotonou, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Douala, Durban, East London, Entebbe, Frankfurt, Harare, Hong Kong, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, Lilongwe, Livingstone, London–Heathrow, Luanda, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Munich, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Ndola, New York–JFK, Perth, Pointe Noire, Port Elizabeth, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Victoria Falls, Walvis Bay, Washington–Dulles, Windhoek-Hosea Kutako
South African ExpressBloemfontein, East London, Gaborone, George, Hoedspruit, Kimberley, Lubumbashi, Nelspruit, Pietermaritzburg, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Sun City
Swiss International Air LinesZürich
TAAG Angola AirlinesLuanda
Turkish AirlinesIstanbul–Atatürk
Virgin AtlanticLondon–Heathrow

Transportation

By car

The airport is located at the intersection of the R21 and R24 freeways. From Johannesburg, follow the R24 east and take exit 46, from Tshwane, follow the R21 south and take exit 46.

Car hire

Car hire companies are all located on level 0 in the multistory parking area opposite the domestic terminal.

  • Avis Car Rental,  +27 11 923-3660.
  • Budget Rent A Car,  +27 11 390-1924.
  • Europcar,  +27 11 394-8831.
  • Hertz Car Hire,  +27 11 390-2066.
  • Imperial Car Hire,  +27 11 390-1481.
  • Khaya Car Rental,  +27 11 390-2347.
  • National Car Rental,  +27 11 394-3580.
  • Sizwe Car Rental,  +27 11 390-2340.
  • Tempest Car Rental,  +27 11 394-8626.
  • First Car Rental,  +27 11 390-2342.

By train

  • Gautrain, toll-free: 0800 428 87246 (0800-GAUTRAIN)The Gautrain connects the airport to Park Station in Johannesburg and Pretoria and a few other stations on the way. The Gautrain station is located in the terminal building. A prepaid Gold Card is required to make use of the train and these can be purchased with a credit card or cash at automated machines in the station. The Gold Card can also be used on the Gautrain buses at the destination stations.Fares for some destinations (1 June 2016): Sandton - R151, Rosebank - R162, Pretoria - R174, Johannesburg Park Station - R162.

By shuttle bus

Many tour operators offer transport/shuttles to and from the airport. In general shuttle buses have a fixed route stopping outside the arrivals hall. Major hotels operate their own shuttle buses that depart each 20-30 minutes during daytime. Most baggage carriers (uniformed) will carry your baggage to the right shuttle bus for a fee of R5-10.

Having someone who know the area drive you around gives you more peace of mind.

Scheduled services

  • Magic Bus (Located in the multistory parkade opposite the domestic terminal, but you can also email or phone them and request that you be met at the gate when your flight arrives),  +27 11 394-6902fax+27 11 466-2565, e-mail: Every two hours from 8AM to 6PMOffers a scheduled service to most major hotels in Johannesburg/Sandton To Sandton: adults R120, children R90.

Unscheduled services, book in advance

  • Airport Shuttle,  +27 861 748-8853fax+27 86 501-0715, e-mail: To Sandton:R275 for max 3 passengers, R390 for max 7 passengers. To Sun City: R1200 max 5 passengers and a range of options in between.
  • Sandton Taxi Cabs (Pty) Ltd1 Sandton Dr, Sandton, Johannesburg,  +27 11 057-9840, e-mail: 24hrsProfessional Airport Transfers from Johannesburg International Airport to anywhere in South Africa. Standard & Executive Cars. To Sandton:R500, Pretoria:R600, Sun City:1500, Kruger Park:R3500, Minibus Hire:R2000-R4000 (9-22 pax).
  • Buzz Around Tours & Transfers,  +27 11 869-7155 (Office Hours), +27 83 651-6700 (24 Hours)fax+27 86 653-7419, e-mail: 24 HoursDoor to door transfers, conference transport solutions and private tours. Caters for all group sizes. To Sandton: R350 for up to 3 passengers, R50 for any additional passengers.

By taxi

There is a taxi stand outside the arrivals hall, and for departing passengers taxis can drive all the way to the departure hall at the upper level. Alternatively you can choose to pre-book a taxi that will collect you from the Airport Terminal. Typically you'll find the driver waiting for you with a name board. The average price for an Airport Transfer from Johannesburg International Airport to Sandton is about R450-600 depending on the type Taxi your book (Executive or Standard Sedan). Some of the reliable taxi services providers include:

Airport Link,  +27 11 792-2017. Fixed price airport transfer service. www.airportlink.co.za Emzansi Cabs, +27 11 039-4002. Pre-booked Airport Transfers & Shuttle Services. Elias, +27 76 834-0670. Friendly taxi driver based in the CBD. Magicbus,  +27 11 548-0822. Offers shuttle services between OR Tambo Airport and Sandton. They also offer door-to-door transfers. A bit expensive for the single traveller but reasonable when traveling in groups. www.magicbussa.co.za Maxi Taxi, +27 11 648-1212. Reputable taxi firm based in Yeoville. www.maxitaxi.co.za Roses Taxi,  +27 11 403-9625. Operates throughout the city. www.rosetaxis.com


Get around

The corridors, toilets and shops are accessible for disabled people too. Distances are in some case long at the airport. According to the information signs you should budget at least 10 minutes to get from the passport control to Gate 12.

Terminals

There are six terminals at the airport, but these can be broken down into three major areas: the international terminals; the domestic terminals; and the transit terminals. The transit terminal housed disused parts of the old domestic terminals. It has been mostly demolished to build a new Central Terminal that will provide an indoor link between domestic and international terminals, as well as a central passenger check-in area and more gates. It was constructed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Terminals A1 and A2 handle international passengers while the other two terminals handle domestic passengers. Due to the airport's design, departure and arrivals terminals are considered separate terminals. The Central Terminal that is under construction will be named Terminal A3 and it will be used for both international and domestic passengers. The airline Mango has its head office on the mezzanine level of the Domestic Departure Terminal.

The two terminals, Terminal A and Terminal B, have been restructured. Several airlines now use Terminal B for all check-ins (top floor, adjacent to the arrivals atrium), for both national and international flights. The airlines that moved check-in to Terminal B include SAA, SA Airlink, SA Express, Air Mauritius, and Qantas.

Terminals A and B boast over 140 retail stores. The Duty Free stores are based airside in Terminal A and many of them stock products exclusively available at the airport.

There is also a 24-hour travel clinic, with medical staff available 24 hours a day. The airport's police station also operates around the clock.

The ample parking available at O. R. Tambo International Airport has recently been revamped and the introduction of state-of-the-art technology now allows visitors to identify available parking spaces easily.

Accommodation & Hotels

Coffee & Restaurants

There are more than 40 restaurants at the airport, and their menus mirror the cultural diversity of South Africa.

Africa Lounge
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Duty Free mall

Anat
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal B
Retail level

Café Dulcé
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal B
Retail level

Café Nescafé
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal B (Domestic departures terminal)

 Caffe Ritazza
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Duty Free mall
Fournos Bakery
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal B
Retail level

KFC

Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal B
Retail level

McGinty's
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A (International arrivals terminal)
Terminal B (Domestic departures terminal)
News Cafe
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Duty Free mall
Steers
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Mezzanine level

Shopping

There are more than 100 shops offering pretty much what you would expect at an international airport at reasonable prices.

If you wish to claim back the South African VAT (14%), go to a counter in the departures hall with your receipts and goods. There you will receive a stamped document which you should bring to another counter in the gate area, where you will receive a check. Due to the fees incurred, it's not useful to claim back VAT for purchases less than about €30.

Accessorize
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A, Duty Free mall
Shop No 25 Domestic terminal
Retail level

Occhiali
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminals A and B

African Eco
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Duty Free mall

Big Five Duty Free
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Duty Free mall

Indaba Lifestyle
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Duty Free mall

 ​Out of Africa
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Duty Free mall
Hugo Boss
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Lacoste
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Duty Free mal
Timberland
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
International departures terminal
Terminal A
African Eco
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Duty Free mall
Big Five Duty Free
Shop location
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Terminal A
Duty Free mall

Internet, Comunication

Things to know

  • Airport Clinic and Travel Vaccination Centre (Ground Floor, New Domestic Arrivals Terminal), +27 11 921-6609GP, dentist, vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis
  • ATMs (Located at international arrivals and the shopping level in the Domestic Terminal). All of South Africa's major banks are represented, including Standard, Nedbank, and ABSA.
  • Baggage storage (Below International arrivals on the upper level of the underground parkade, near the main lift lobby.). Open 24 hoursR50 per item for the first day, R40 thereafter.
  • Baggage wrapping in plastic (Below International arrivals on the upper level of the underground parkade, near the main lift lobby.). Open 24 hoursR35 per item.
  • Foreign exchange (Located in International Arrivals Terminal). ABSA, American Express, Rennies and Master Currency has outlets here.
  • VAT Refunds (Mezzanine level, International Departures, just after you have passed passport control),  +27 11 394-1117, e-mail: .

Connections

OR Tambo does not have a direct link between the secure arrival area of Terminal A and the secure departure area of Terminal B. As in the United States, you will have to pass through customs and immigration if OR Tambo is your first stop in SA. Also, note that Terminal B does not have jetways or aircraft parking spots within walking distance for the domestic E Gates. In other words, the E Gates are actually a tarmac-level bus terminal for buses that take you to aircraft sitting at very remote parking spots.

Thus, to be assured of a smooth connection from international to domestic SA flights, you need to incorporate a minimum of at least two hours to pass through immigration control upon arrival at Terminal A, retrieve your baggage and go through customs, check your baggage again at the Connecting Flights counter on your left after exiting Customs, walk over to Terminal B departures, pass through Terminal B security control, and then walk to your gate. Of course this does not apply in the case your baggage is already checked through to the final destination. Then you may then have to take a bus ride if your aircraft was assigned to an E gate.

Finally, the Connecting Flights counter is small and understaffed and lines tend to accumulate quickly. It's not a mere bag drop. They will have to look at your papers just as when you checked in. Since you will have to pass through Terminal B security anyway, it may be faster to take your baggage over to the domestic check-in counters if the lines are long and your connection period is very tight.


Disabled facilities

In the multi-storey parkade at ORTIA there are disabled parking bays at all levels while the airport itself features special lifts, ramps, wheelchairs and toilets for the disabled.

Passengers who require assistance boarding and disembarking from aircraft can make arrangements with the relevant airline when booking.


Medical

The Airport Medical Clinic offers emergency treatment 24 hours a day, as well as:

  • Quick care and casualties;
  • General practitioners;
  • Travel vaccinations;
  • Malaria prophylaxis;
  • Aviation medicals;
  • Obesity treatment;Botox treatments;
  • Acupuncture;
  • Dentist;
  • Optician;
  • Gynaecologist;
  • Physiotherapist;
  • Executive and employment medicals;
  • Counselling to combat stress and to stop smoking;
  • ECGs;
  • Hearing, pregnancy and cholesterol tests.

Contact details:

Tel: +27 (0)11 921 6609
Hotline: +27 (0)82 262 1490
Website: www.travelclinic.co.za


Post office

​There is a post office at the international arrivals terminal, and you will find Postnet on the shopping level of the domestic terminal.


Chapel and prayer rooms

Christian Chapel
O.R. Tambo International Airport has a Christian Chapel open for prayer and quiet time to all passengers and airport staff 24/7. The chapel holds prayer and worship services on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday at 13h00. An evening service is held every second Wednesday at 19h00. The Chapel is situated on level 2 at the far side of Terminal B just above our clinic. For more info contact Trish on 0711640927 or 011 975 8491 or refer to the Chapel notice board

Muslim prayer facility
Our Muslim prayer facility is open 24/7 for prayer and quiet time.  There is a Friday prayer service held just after noon with both a male and female facility. This facility is located in the basement parkade closest to Terminal A arrivals.


Banking

Branches for the major banks in South Africa are located at O.R. Tambo International Airport as follows:

  • First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank: Terminal B - retail area
  • ABSA and African Bank: Terminal A - arrivals area

Automated teller machines (ATMs) can be found in the following locations:

  • Standard Bank-, FNB-, ABSA- and Nedbank ATMs are available in the food court area next to Wimpy and Spur
  • Standard Bank-, FNB-, ABSA- and Nedbank ATMs may be found on the retail level in the bank area
  • Standard Bank-, FNB- and Nedbank ATMs are located in Terminal A departures (next to Wandie’s restaurant)
  • Two ABSA ATMs may be found next to the ABSA bank branch in Terminal A arrivals
  • One Standard Bank ATM is available next to Khulula/BA/Comair ticket sales

Telephone

Public telephones

There are public telephones in all terminals. Telephone services outlets can be found in the public concourse of the international arrivals terminal and in the holding lounge of the international departures terminal.

Mobile phone rentals

A Vodacom Superstore, on the shopping level of the domestic terminal, sells mobile phones, airtime top-ups and mobile phone accessories. The international terminal boasts a number of mobile phone shops and service providers.


Restrooms

There are restrooms in all terminal buildings. Baby-changing facilities and other amenities for young children are available in most ladies restrooms.

Safety and security

The terminals themselves are heavily secured with 24-hour CCTV coverage and patrols by both private security and the South African Police Service. As with most international airports, the only major issues to worry about within the terminals are petty crimes like pickpocketing.

However, OR Tambo has a very serious problem with pilfering of personal belongings from baggage. Use a good baggage lock, consider using a baggage wrapping service in the terminal before you check bags, and do not check baggage unnecessarily early. Anything of value, like jewellery or electronics, should go in your carry-on bag whenever possible.

Furthermore, OR Tambo has a history of gangs identifying suitable targets in the terminals, following them towards their destinations on the freeways, and then ambushing them either on the freeways or at their destinations. Watch out for suspicious people following you when you leave the terminals by any form of ground transport (even escorted tour bus) and be prepared to divert to a police station, petrol station, or other appropriate public facility to seek assistance.

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