Johannesburg International Airport (OR Tambo International Airport)


SA Logue’s handy guide to Johannesburg International Airport.

Vital information:

  • Airport code: JNB (Note: this may change once the Airport’s new name, OR Tambo International, comes into effect.)
  • Street Map: Click here
  • Floor plans: Click here
  • General info: +27 (0) 11 921 6262
  • Flight info via telephone: +27 (0) 86 727 7888
  • Flight info via SMS/text: Send flight number to 35007.
  • Flight info on the web: Click here. (This service is often down – it’s better to call.)
  • Hired/Rented cars: The area for hired/rented cars is outside the airport, in a separate building. It’s something of a slog to get there – though perfectly manageable with a cart – and using a porter is an option (see below).
  • Wifi? Domestic: retail and departures level restaurants, boarding gates, and airline lounges. International: arrivals mezzanine level restaurants, duty-free mall, SAA & Premier lounges.
  • Former & alt. names: OR Tambo (official name), Jan Smuts (previous name), Lughawe (Afrikaans for “Airport”).
  • Free carts? Yes
  • Porters? Available (look for bright orange uniforms), and aggressive.
  • Porter tip? R5-R10 per bag, don’t pay more.
  • Curbside drop-off/pick-up allowed? Yes
  • Parking? R6/hour uncovered, R8/hour covered, long-term available.
  • Disabled-friendly? Yes
  • Long Term parking? Yup, click me.

Johannesburg International is Africa’s busiest airport, and one of its best: it’s clean, modern, well-run, and replete with amenities – practically a city unto itself, as a large airport should be.

Many flights to South Africa end here, requiring visitors travelling on to Cape Town or Durban to switch terminals (from international to domestic) for their onward flights. This can cause a few heart-pounding moments, if the time-window between the flights is narrow. In this regard, here are a few tips:

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  • Tip 1: A good thing to check when booking a flight to South Africa is whether you’ll have to switch terminals at JNB to get to Cape Town or Durban (if you’re not flying direct).
  • Tip 2: if you do have to switch terminals, an ideal time window between flights is three hours: remember, you have to go through customs and immigration.
  • Tip 3: Once you’re through customs and immigration, look out simultaneously for men in orange suits and signs pointing to the domestic terminal. The men in orange suits are porters, who will probably clamor to help you get to domestic, and the signs are your means of escape.
  • It’s easy to get from international to domestic at JNB, though it is a bit of a long haul. The porters will probably get you there faster, so if you’re in a tight fix, use them. A normal tip is R5/bag, and a very good one R10/bag. Feel free to negotiate the tip up front.

JNB International Airlines:

JNB’s domestic terminal is brand new; the security check-through is on the top level, by domestic check-in. (Porters may come in handy for pushing carts up the series of inclines that lead to the top level, though these inclines are also motorized.)

JNB Domestic Airlines:

Stuck for transport? JNB is well out of the way (being wedged between Kempton Park and Boksburg) – getting to and from is not particularly cheap. The imaginatively-named Airport Shuttle service (no website), however, offers an excellent price, at R115/person each way (min. two people): +27 (0) 11 886 3095.