en | $ USD



Select Your Language

Select Your Currency

  • AED United Arab Emirates Dirham
  • AFN Afghan Afghani
  • ALL Albanian Lek
  • AMD Armenian Dram
  • ANG Netherlands Antillean Guilder
  • AOA Angolan Kwanza
  • ARS Argentine Peso
  • AUD Australian Dollar
  • AWG Aruban Florin
  • AZN Azerbaijani Manat
  • BAM Bosnia-Herzegovina Convertible Mark
  • BBD Barbadian Dollar
  • BDT Bangladeshi Taka
  • BGN Bulgarian Lev
  • BIF Burundian Franc
  • BMD Bermudan Dollar
  • BND Brunei Dollar
  • BOB Bolivian Boliviano
  • BRL Brazilian Real
  • BSD Bahamian Dollar
  • BWP Botswanan Pula
  • BZD Belize Dollar
  • CAD Canadian Dollar
  • CDF Congolese Franc
  • CHF Swiss Franc
  • CLP Chilean Peso
  • CNY Chinese Yuan
  • COP Colombian Peso
  • CRC Costa Rican Colón
  • CVE Cape Verdean Escudo
  • CZK Czech Republic Koruna
  • DJF Djiboutian Franc
  • DKK Danish Krone
  • DOP Dominican Peso
  • DZD Algerian Dinar
  • EGP Egyptian Pound
  • ETB Ethiopian Birr
  • EUR Euro
  • FJD Fijian Dollar
  • FKP Falkland Islands Pound
  • GBP British Pound Sterling
  • GEL Georgian Lari
  • GIP Gibraltar Pound
  • GMD Gambian Dalasi
  • GNF Guinean Franc
  • GTQ Guatemalan Quetzal
  • GYD Guyanaese Dollar
  • HKD Hong Kong Dollar
  • HNL Honduran Lempira
  • HTG Haitian Gourde
  • HUF Hungarian Forint
  • IDR Indonesian Rupiah
  • ILS Israeli New Sheqel
  • INR Indian Rupee
  • ISK Icelandic Króna
  • JMD Jamaican Dollar
  • JPY Japanese Yen
  • KES Kenyan Shilling
  • KGS Kyrgystani Som
  • KHR Cambodian Riel
  • KMF Comorian Franc
  • KRW South Korean Won
  • KYD Cayman Islands Dollar
  • KZT Kazakhstani Tenge
  • LAK Laotian Kip
  • LBP Lebanese Pound
  • LKR Sri Lankan Rupee
  • LRD Liberian Dollar
  • LSL Lesotho Loti
  • MAD Moroccan Dirham
  • MDL Moldovan Leu
  • MGA Malagasy Ariary
  • MKD Macedonian Denar
  • MNT Mongolian Tugrik
  • MOP Macanese Pataca
  • MUR Mauritian Rupee
  • MVR Maldivian Rufiyaa
  • MWK Malawian Kwacha
  • MXN Mexican Peso
  • MYR Malaysian Ringgit
  • MZN Mozambican Metical
  • NAD Namibian Dollar
  • NGN Nigerian Naira
  • NIO Nicaraguan Córdoba
  • NOK Norwegian Krone
  • NPR Nepalese Rupee
  • NZD New Zealand Dollar
  • OMR Omani Rial
  • PAB Panamanian Balboa
  • PEN Peruvian Nuevo Sol
  • PGK Papua New Guinean Kina
  • PHP Philippine Peso
  • PKR Pakistani Rupee
  • PLN Polish Zloty
  • PYG Paraguayan Guarani
  • QAR Qatari Rial
  • RON Romanian Leu
  • RSD Serbian Dinar
  • RUB Russian Ruble
  • RWF Rwandan Franc
  • SAR Saudi Riyal
  • SBD Solomon Islands Dollar
  • SCR Seychellois Rupee
  • SEK Swedish Krona
  • SGD Singapore Dollar
  • SHP Saint Helena Pound
  • SLL Sierra Leonean Leone
  • SOS Somali Shilling
  • SRD Surinamese Dollar
  • SVC Salvadoran Colón
  • SZL Swazi Lilangeni
  • THB Thai Baht
  • TJS Tajikistani Somoni
  • TOP Tongan Pa anga
  • TRY Turkish Lira
  • TTD Trinidad and Tobago Dollar
  • TWD New Taiwan Dollar
  • TZS Tanzanian Shilling
  • UAH Ukrainian Hryvnia
  • UGX Ugandan Shilling
  • USD United States Dollar
  • UYU Uruguayan Peso
  • UZS Uzbekistan Som
  • VND Vietnamese Dong
  • VUV Vanuatu Vatu
  • WST Samoan Tala
  • XAF CFA Franc BEAC
  • XCD East Caribbean Dollar
  • XPF CFP Franc
  • YER Yemeni Rial
  • ZAR South African Rand
  • ZMW Zambian Kwacha
Johannesburg airport departures guide: Seamless travel from South Africa
9 min read
Updated on Mar 22, 2024

This is part of the Been There, Done That series, where our expert globetrotters travel the world to get the insights and information you need for a seamless travel experience.

By Ra'eesah Manack, iVisa Travel Journalist

O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is where all my escapades begin. Having walked the halls from a tender age, I have all the insider tips and tricks to ensure your trip is as smooth as possible.

Fill me in

Johannesburg, a.k.a eGoli or "the city of gold," is the largest city in South Africa.| iVisa Each departure is a prelude to another adventure and I’m here to guide you through every step to help you fly through O.R. Tambo hassle-free.

Johannesburg Airport has been renamed O.R. Tambo after Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo (27 October 1917 – 24 April 1993). Oliver Tambo was a South African anti-apartheid politician and activist who served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1967 to 1991.

This blog will guide you through O.R. Tambo International, the pulsing heart of South Africa's air travel, so you’re ready to take on the world. Whether finding the perfect spot for a pre-flight meal or scooping up that last-minute gift, O.R. Tambo International offers everything you need.

O.R. Tambo International Airport at a glimpse

Fill me in

Departing from OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa. | iVisa

O.R. Tambo International Airport (IATA code: JNB) serves as my gateway to the world, and every departure fills me with excitement, yet filled with the promise of new explorations.

Here are a few quick facts:

Airport Code: JNB

Terminals: The airport houses two main terminals, Terminal A for international flights and Terminal B for domestic flights. Navigating between them is straightforward, thanks to clear signage and helpful staff.

Languages spoken: English is predominantly used, alongside 11 official languages of South Africa, making it a welcoming place for international visitors and locals.

Did You Know? O.R. Tambo International Airport is South Africa's busiest airport and a crucial hub for flights to and from the rest of Africa.

The final view of South Africa from my plane window, as I depart from O.R. Tambo International, always leaves me with a profound sense of the nation's rich tapestry of history and its bright future. Whether it's a journey beginning or concluding, that last look at Johannesburg’s sprawling landscape is a poignant farewell to the beauty and depth of this part of the world.

Departing OR Tambo: The Start of a New Adventure

Fill me in

Watching a plane land at OR Tambo International as we drive towards the airport. | iVisa

Every time I find myself at OR Tambo International Airport, gearing up for departure, there's a palpable sense of anticipation.

It's not just about leaving; it's about the adventures that await. With its bustling terminals and the promise of new horizons, this airport always sets the stage for the journey ahead.

Whether heading to familiar destinations or exploring new corners of the globe, the departure process here is the first step of an exciting journey.

Checking In: Smooth Sailing Before Takeoff

Checking in for my flight is always a breeze at OR Tambo. The airport's efficient design and the helpfulness of the airline staff ensure that this process is as smooth as possible. I usually opt for online check-in to save time, but even when I need to drop off luggage or get my boarding pass in person, I'm impressed by the streamlined service.

The check-in counters are well organized, with clear signs indicating where to go for each airline. Even during peak travel times, the queues move quickly, thanks to the proficient staff managing the flow. On my last trip, I was greeted with a smile as I approached the counter to drop off my bag and confirm my flight details. The staff member efficiently processed my check-in, answered my questions about the flight, and even gave me a few tips for my destination.

Though seemingly mundane, this part of my journey is filled with the quiet excitement of anticipation. It's a moment to take stock, ensure all documents are in order, and mentally prepare for the adventure. Checking in at O.R. Tambo isn't just about handing over luggage; it's about the seamless transition from the familiar grounds of Johannesburg to the skies that bridge us to the rest of the world.

Navigating passport control and security: A personal insight

Fill me in

Walking to passport control. | iVisa

After checking in, the next steps in my departure ritual at O.R. Tambo International Airport involve navigating through passport control and security. This phase feels like crossing an invisible threshold, leaving behind the familiarity of South Africa and moving towards the anticipation of new experiences abroad.

Passport control: A smooth transition

Passport control at OR Tambo is an experience marked by efficiency. The officers here balance thoroughness with speed, ensuring that each traveler is processed quickly while maintaining the necessary security protocols. As I approach, I prepare my travel documents — passport, boarding pass, and necessary visas. The staff are professional, but there's a warmth in their efficiency, a nod to the friendly spirit of Johannesburg that I'm about to leave behind.

Pro Tip: Always have your documents ready and give a friendly greeting to the officer. A small smile goes a long way in making this process smoother for everyone involved.

Security screening: A seamless procedure

Security screening is the final checkpoint before the departure gates. Here, OR Tambo's organization shines again. The layout is intuitive, guiding travelers through the process with minimal confusion. Bins are plentiful for personal items, and signs indicate what needs to be removed from bags and pockets.

As I place my belongings on the conveyor belt, I'm always struck by the efficiency of the staff. They're adept at keeping the line moving while ensuring a thorough check is conducted. It's a delicate balance, but one they manage well. While I've become quite adept at preparing for security checks – laptop out, liquids in a clear bag, everything metallic in the tray – I still appreciate the reminders posted along the queue.

Passing through passport control and security at O.R. Tambo feels like the final threads of Johannesburg's fabric slipping through my fingers as I enter the unknown. It's a moment tinged with the excitement of departure and the promise of adventure.

With its procedures and checkpoints, this part of the airport might seem like just another step in the journey. Yet, it's here that I find myself pausing, taking a deep breath, and preparing for the new stories that await. The efficiency and friendliness encountered in these moments reflect the spirit of the city I'm leaving behind, making the transition seamless and meaningful.

Seamless transits: Navigating O.R. Tambo International Airport

Transiting through O.R. Tambo International Airport is an experience that mirrors the dynamic and welcoming spirit of Johannesburg itself. Whether continuing to another international destination or catching a domestic flight to explore more of South Africa, the transition is seamless, facilitated by the airport's thoughtful layout and helpful signage.

Upon disembarking, follow the marked signs towards the transit area. The flow of movement within the airport is intuitive, guiding passengers through a pathway that minimizes confusion and maximizes ease of travel. It's reassuring to see airport staff readily available, offering directions and assistance with a friendly, welcoming demeanor.

The availability of amenities tailored to transit passengers is endless, from comfortable seating to free Wi-Fi, so you’ll long for nothing. For longer layovers, lounges are available for all travelers at a fee, providing a more private relaxing space, complete with refreshments and shower facilities.

Dining options in the transit area cater to a wide range of tastes, from quick snacks to full meals, ensuring that travelers can find something to suit their preferences without having to venture far. Retail stores offer a chance to browse and shop, whether I'm looking for last-minute travel essentials or unique South African souvenirs to take home.

The process is straightforward for those needing to change terminals to connect flights. The Gautrain rapid rail system and shuttle buses provide quick and efficient transport between terminals, making it easy to move from international to domestic flights or vice versa. The clarity of airport signage and the frequency of these services mean that even those unfamiliar with OR Tambo can transit without stress.

Exploring the Departures Terminal

Fill me in

Exploring the departures terminal and plane watching from the many windows. | iVisa

As I meander through the departures terminal at O.R. Tambo International Airport, I'm greeted by a vibrant snapshot of Johannesburg. The terminal is a bustling hub, offering a final taste of the city through its diverse dining, shopping, and relaxation options. It makes the wait for my flight an integral part of my South African journey.

Dining delights: Best places to eat

Certain local restaurants stand out in the terminal's culinary landscape, inviting travelers to indulge in authentic South African flavors. Mugg & Bean offers a cozy retreat with its robust coffee and hearty meals, perfectly reflecting local hospitality. It’s my go-to spot for a comforting, familiar meal before boarding.

Nando's is another culinary hallmark, serving up its signature peri-peri chicken—a dish synonymous with South African flavor. The vibrant atmosphere and spicy, flavorful meals make every visit a memorable one.

For seafood lovers, Ocean Basket presents a menu that’s a testament to South Africa's rich marine bounty. Dining here is like taking a culinary journey along the coast, one delicious bite at a time.

Treasure trove of shopping

The terminal's shopping scene is a treasure trove for those looking to take a piece of South Africa. At Out of Africa I'm always captivated by the array of local crafts, from intricate beadwork to vibrant textiles, each telling its own cultural heritage story.

The duty-free area, with its luxury brands, offers a chance to indulge in high-end shopping, blending international luxury with the unique backdrop of Johannesburg.

Lounges: Islands of Tranquility

The lounges at O.R. Tambo, such as the Bidvest Premier Lounge, are my sanctuary for peace and relaxation. They serve as quiet islands amid the terminal's lively atmosphere, offering comfortable seating, refreshments, and even showers for a rejuvenating pre-flight experience.

A Vibrant Farewell to Johannesburg

Fill me in

Boarding gates are clearly marked from above. | iVisa

As my boarding time approaches, I gather my belongings and head towards the gate, my heart beating with the excitement of the journey ahead. Walking through OR Tambo's departures terminal, I take in the vibrant atmosphere one last time, the buzz of fellow travelers, the final calls for flights echoing softly in the background.

It's a familiar scene that brings a mix of anticipation and a touch of nostalgia for the city I'm leaving behind.

Finding my way to the boarding gate is straightforward, thanks to the clear signage and helpful airport staff stationed along the way. The process of boarding is organized and efficient, a testament to the airport's well-oiled operations. As I joined the queue, I scanned my boarding pass, a simple beep marking my passage from the airport's lively halls to the aircraft's tranquil interior.

Stepping onto the bridge that connects the terminal to the plane, I feel a transitional space, a threshold between continents, cultures, and experiences. In this moment of transition, I reflect on my time in Johannesburg, the vibrant city that has been my home and my adventure. The anticipation of discovering new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures fills me with an exhilarating sense of freedom and possibility.

As I settle into my seat, stow my carry-on, and buckle up, the aircraft's engines begin their low hum, a prelude to takeoff. The flight attendants move gracefully through their pre-flight routines, safety demonstrations merging with the soft murmur of passengers chatting, adjusting their seats, and getting comfortable. Outside, the runway stretches out, a concrete ribbon unwinding towards the horizon, towards new adventures.

Taking off from O.R. Tambo International Airport is always a moment filled with mixed emotions. Johannesburg recedes below as the plane lifts off, its sprawling expanse a patchwork of memories now stored away.

Each flight, no matter where it leads, is a chapter in the larger story of my travels, a story punctuated by the familiar rhythm of taking off from O.R. Tambo, the gateway to the world that always leads me back to South Africa.

  • iVisa is NOT affiliated with any government agency. This site does not provide legal advice and we are not a law firm. None of our customer service representatives are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. We are a private, internet-based travel and immigration consultancy provider dedicated to helping individuals travel around the world. You may apply by yourself directly on the various government websites. The source of information: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/immigration-services
Chat on WhatsApp
Intercom Chat