Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport lies 21km east of the city centre and is Africa's busiest airport. It has two terminals:
Arrivals is on the ground floor of both terminals, and Departures is on the first floor. Most international check-in counters are in Terminal A, however, international flights with South African Airways check in at Terminal B (though the flight will still leave from Terminal A), so factor that into your departure time. And keep in mind that the distance to your boarding gate can be up to a 20-minute walk as the concourses and piers are quite long.
Travelling between terminals
The terminals are connected by a transit terminal, which houses the Gautrain Station that links the airport to the popular Johannesburg, and the popular destination of Sandton. The walk between the two is about five minutes.
Public buses can be tricky to navigate if this is your first time in Johannesburg, so we recommend taking the train - or a taxi if you're still unsure.
The Gautrain is a commuter train with two lines, one connecting the airport to Sandton in just 15 minutes. All journeys must be paid for using a Gold Card (reusable travel card). Trains run every 10-20 minutes from the airport from Mon-Sun, 05:20-21:04, and from Sandton, Mon-Sun, 04:50-21:04.
Cost: ZAR 142 one-way, plus ZAR 14 for the Gold Card
Buying tickets: Buy and top-up your Gold Card with cash or credit from any of the kiosks inside the station (follow signs from Level 1 of transit terminal between Terminals A and B)
Location: Gautrain Station in the transit terminal between Terminals A and B
If your flight arrives or departs outside of Gautrain hours, take a licensed taxi. Don't go with anyone who approaches you offering a taxi and insist on using the meter before getting in the car.
Cost: ZAR 250-300 to Sandton
Location: Outside the terminal buildings, go left until you see a long line of Mercedes taxis with yellow TAXI signs on the roof
The petty theft problem that once plagued the airport has improved in recent years, however, it is still recommended to lock your bags as they transit through the airport. Use a good baggage lock or consider using a baggage wrapping service in the terminal before checking your bags. Avoid checking luggage unnecessarily early and keep anything of value in your carry-on.
The Protea Hotel is a transit accommodation located in the International Terminal, so no visa is required. Upon exiting the plane, follow the signs for ‘International Transfers’ into the transit area. Once you pass through security, continue walking straight. Do not clear customs.
Rooms include in-room showers, television, coffeemaker and high-speed Wi-Fi. Rates start at ZAR 2,403 (USD 187) per night. Day use in 6-hour blocks is also available.
Note that you will need your boarding pass or e-ticket upon checking in.
Showers are available at three lounges at the O.R. Tambo International Airport.
Bidvest Premier Lounge
Terminal A, airside, mezzanine level, ZAR 314/USD 24
Hours: 24 hrs (open 24-hours; ZAR 314/USD 24)
Terminal B, airside, lower mezzanine level, ZAR 184/USD 14
Hours: 05:00 – 21:00 Mon-Fri, 06:00 – 21:00 Sat-Sun
Terminal A, airside, mezzanine level, USD 40
Hours: 07:00 – 22:00 daily
Travellers have reported that there are touts inside the terminal and outside the buildings that offer to help and then request exorbitant tips. If you need help, speak to the official porters – they wear bright orange uniforms and navy blue shirts with ACSA permits. They work for exclusively for tips and a general guide is to give them ZAR 5 per bag.
The Premier Conference Centre offers a modern and stylish environment for business meetings, conferences and seminars.
Location: Terminal B (domestic arrivals terminal), landside
Smoking is only permitted in special areas outside the terminals.
British American Tobacco smoking lounge, airside, floor 1
You will find car hire desks provided by Avis, Europcar, South Africa Car Hire, National Car Rental, Tempser Car Hire.
Location: multi-storey car park, opposite the domestic terminal.
You can book a car at the airport, or save money by booking online before you travel.
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