Flying on a plane was one of my bucket list items when I left school, the first time I did it was absolutely everything I could have imagined it to be, and more. By more I mean, there is so much more to traveling via an aircraft than just the flight. I mean have you been to OR Tambo International Airport? It’s like there is a whole city inside that airport. Exciting? Yes. Intimidating? Definitely! With that in mind, I’ve put together some travel tips to make things a little less daunting!

OR Tambo

  1. First thing you need to know is that all South African airports have Free WiFi! You can thank me later! Connect to the Airports@vast WiFi network then follow the on screen instructions, you will be required to register and your email address will be required. There after you can enjoy 4 hours of 1 gig of free data – whichever comes first!
  2. Mobile charging stations – there areΒ 5 mobile charging stations in OR Tambo located in the departure terminals – because phones die at random, inappropriate times.
  3. If you are at OR Tambo for a layover – there are lots of lounges available for short stints (3hrs for about R300), which include snacks, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), free WiFi, and a shower including towels and toiletries.
  4. Forget something? Anything you need is at this incredible airport – including a Chapel, 24hr medical clinic, a Post Office and Postnet, and VAT refunds (International flights only).
  5. There are numerous restaurants and eating facilities available to cater to all likes and needs, most of them close around 11pm.
  6. Smokers – if you want to sit down with a smoke and a cup of coffee – Cappello. The food is good, it is a bit pricey and the service isn’t the greatest. Usually though, when looking for a place to smoke you aren’t too interested in all of the above anyway.
  7. If you arriving at OR Tambo with your own transportation, take a picture of your parking. The parking area is huge, and the last thing you need to return not knowing where you parked.

OR Tambo

A few general flying OR Tambo (and any) International Airport traveling tips:

  1. Ensure you know where your zone check-in area is – by sticking to your zone area, the aircraft fills up quicker, seating passengers from the back to the front. Don’t jump the queue, it may mean you need to get in and out of your seat for window or middle seat passengers can get comfortable.
  2. Send your luggage to your destination, then you wont have to worry about collecting it at a layover.
  3. Have your travel documents including your passport, ID, flight ticket etc. in your hand while queuing to board the aircraft.
  4. Remove laptops from their pouches before you get to the security line. This will alleviate the delay of having to fight with a zip on your laptop bag to get your device out.
  5. Make your luggage stick out – use a colourful ribbon for example, but don’t just put this on one handle. Place the ribbon on any and all the handles you can, this way whichever way your luggage is roaming around on the carousel, you can still identify your bag.
  6. Be sure to keep eye drops and lip balm with you. The controlled air in the cabin can become quite dry – make sure you can moisturise if you need to!

OR Tambo

Just a final piece of advice from a friend who may or may not have fallen down the escalator with her luggage trolley at 1:30am on a layover from South Sudan. The handles on those luggage trolleys? You need to lift the handle to enable the breaks!

There are many more tips and tricks that more seasoned travelers could add to my list. If you feel I have left anything out please drop it in the comments so any new travelers can pick them up too!

Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with Travelstart.

In the Meantime – I know that writing this article made me want to go out and renew my passport. So I’m sure you are itching to get your travel on too! Let me know where you will be going via OR Tambo next!

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