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Johannesburg Airport Visitor Guide 2021: Everything you need to know

12 May, 2021by Bounce

Now known as O.R. Tambo Airport, this large modern airport serves as a gateway not only to Johannesburg and all that city has to offer, but also to the rest of South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.

This airport is one of the few airports in the world to offer scheduled flights to all six inhabited continents and is also the busiest airport in Africa. Situated in the Kempton Park area, twenty-three kilometers from Johannesburg, it offers an ideal jumping-off point for a wide variety of different types of adventure.

To get to the city, you have many travel options on hand. There are buses, taxis and car hire options from the airport. Another option, and probably both the most reasonable and quickest, would be to ride the Gautrain to Sandton which is both a favorite tourist and conference destination.

Sandton offers plenty to do as you get the first taste of Africa, its culture, and its cuisine. It should be noted that Johannesburg has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and though you will be safe if you follow sensible precautions, dragging luggage with you will advertise that you are a tourist. Fortunately, there are numerous locker facilities near Johannesburg Airport where you can store your bags while you enjoy your African adventure.

Johannesburg Airport bag policy


As a signatory to the international airports LAGS agreement, persons boarding flights will only be allowed liquids and gels in bottles of less than 100 mls contained in clear plastic bags separate from other hand luggage. Also, bags going into the hold must have at least one flat side to prevent blockages on the baggage conveyor system.

There is a private company within the airport that provides luggage storage. However, space is limited, and during busy times it can be difficult to find a locker. Also, you may find it more convenient to leave your baggage at a luggage storage facility closer to the city.

Johannesburg Airport food policy


This is a well-equipped modern airport. It has a wide range of dining options both before and after check-in. You will be able to find everything from burgers to fine seafood. After check-in, there is an excellent duty-free shopping area where you will be able to find good bookshops, all the usual big-name brands, and a superb range of curious and African art.

If you find yourself with time to kill at the airport, you can visit the airport museum or go up to the flight deck from where you will be able to observe the planes landing and taking off. If you are forced to sleep at the airport you will find staff quite accommodating and there will be plenty of security personnel about. Be aware that most of the chairs have arms, though if you are lucky, you might be able to find an armless couch to spread out on.

Johannesburg Airport camera policy


If you feel the need to take photos documenting your trip in Johannesburg Airport, you can. However, it is not permitted to set up tripods, lighting, or other high-end equipment. And if you plan to take photos for commercial use, you'll need to get permission from the airport authorities first. As with all airports, make sure not to point your camera at secure areas, as this can arouse suspicion. If in doubt, it may be best to leave your expensive camera equipment behind at a luggage storage near Johannesburg Airport.

Johannesburg Airport Rules


  • Firearms may not be carried on flights but must be checked in at the Firearms desk along with a registered license and temporary import certificate.

  • You may not bring food, plants, biological goods or animals into the country. This includes cheese and they have specially trained sniffer dogs that are experts at finding it.

  • Threatening or abusive behavior will not be tolerated by any of the airport staff and could see you arrested.

Johannesburg Airport luggage storage

The airport does keep luggage but this is aimed at short period stays in terms of hours rather than days. If you are kicking off your visit in Johannesburg, then you are best off jumping on the Gautrain to Sandton, storing what you don't need immediately at a locker rental facility, and traveling light.

There are several luggage lockers services to choose from. If you opt for one that offers online booking and includes free insurance then you are assured a locker will be available when you get there and you will be able to enjoy your stay with complete peace of mind.

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