Date: October 15, 2014
While Africa is rarely renowned for its innovative or comfortable airports, a few gems do exist among a slew of mediocre transit hubs. They may pale in comparison to some of the airport finalists in other regions, but these locations do offer elements of each of the four Cs (comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service) to those who travel through. And heck – while they may not blow your mind, the cities that are making an effort to improve air travel certainly deserve some positive recognition!
Here are the Top 5 Best Airports in Africa based on overall airport experience as determined by voters in our 2014 Airport Survey:
1. Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa (JNB)
As airports go, this terminal was much quieter than the others. – riversstg
As the primary transit hub for southern Africa – and the recipient of a full airport refurbishment for the 2010 FIFA World Cup – it should come as no surprise that O.R. Tambo sits at the top of Africa’s Best Airport list. Filled with restaurants, bookstores, electronic stores, curio shops and even a few premium lounges, inevitable layovers here are certainly pleasant enough. Add to that a few decent seating options, efficient check-in systems, 45 minutes of free Wi-Fi (per e-mail address), clean facilities and a relatively quiet environment and you should be set for a decent layover in ‘Joburg’.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Wi-Fi • Hotel in Transit Area ($) • Showers ($). Visit our Johannesburg Airport Guide for more information.
2. Cape Town International Airport, South Africa (CPT)
Plenty of quiet areas with few overnight passengers as they don’t have late flights. – tcdragon
Like the city in which it is located, Cape Town International Airport is clean, pleasant, easy to navigate and decidedly modern. While CPT offers little in the way of conveniences for extended layovers, the airport itself acts as a destination more than it does a hub. Two or so hours can be happily spent either browsing in curio shops, snacking at small restaurants or using up your free 45 minutes of wireless internet. For more comfort, check out the pay-per-use lounges where you can enjoy a shower if you need to freshen up in between flights. The staff are generally pleasant and – best of all – a visit here means you’re likely visiting one of the continent’s best cities!
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Wi-Fi ($) • Showers ($). Visit our Cape Town Airport Guide for more information.
3. Durban King Shaka International Airport, South Africa (DUR)
Clean and comfortable. I spent some time in one of the lounges. Money well spent. – a traveller
King Shaka International opened in 2010, replacing Durban’s older city airport just in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This South African airport is clean, efficient and modern. The layout itself is spacious and airy, with good signage improving a passenger’s ability to navigate it. There are a decent variety of restaurants and shops, though there are only a few amenities beyond that. The other downside is that it is located 35 kilometers from the city center, with limited public transit options connecting the two.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($). Visit our King Shaka Airport Guide for more information.
4. Algiers Houari Boumediene International Airport, Algeria (ALG)
It is a safe airport, very clean and a nice seating. – GlobeTrotter
Massive, clean, organized and surprisingly efficient, Houari Boumediene is another voter favourite for African layovers. Amenities are all fairly standard and include restaurants, curio shops and a few lounges. Terminal 1 is generally modern, having been inaugurated in 2006 – and Terminal 2 is also decent, given that it was renovated in 2007. Overall, you can likely expect pleasant enough staff and reasonable security precautions. Visit our Algiers Airport Guide for more information.
5. Addis Ababa-Bole International Airport, Ethiopia (ADD)
There are lots of extended chairs with footrests and the normal chairs have no armrests! – csaladenes
Layovers at Addis Ababa-Bole International are quickly becoming an inevitable part of African travel as the airport establishes itself as a new hub for the continent with Ethiopian Airlines. What appears to have secured ADD’s place at number five on our 2014 list is the fantastic number of comfortable reclining sleeper chairs available to all departing passengers. These lounge chairs line the perimeter of the central departures lounge – and are sought after by all transiting passengers. Beyond the chairs, ADD offers decent duty free shopping, mediocre restaurants and a small and dated internet café. While this will hardly be a place to write home about, a few hours wandering the tiny and efficient terminal is certainly manageable.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Free Wi-Fi. Visit our Addis Ababa Airport Guide for more information.
Having read about the best airports in Africa, it now is likely fitting to continue on to the Worst Airports in Africa winners!