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Air travel 101 for 2021: Travel in and out of South Africa

We'd barely finished the leftovers from Christmas dinner before the coronavirus pandemic cut the celebrations short with a new level of restrictions to carry us into the new year. How have these regulations impacted the air travel industry?
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Adjusted flight times due to the curfew 

An announcement by the State President on 28 December announcing a stricter curfew, meant both local and international airlines had to act swiftly to adjust their flight times accordingly.

So, if you were scheduled to fly within South Africa, or had a trip in or out of the country planned in the early part of 2021, you may have to rethink your plans.

At present, airlines are working hard to adjust their flights accordingly, but due to the logistics involved, there have been significant delays in the process.

If you had a flight booked any time between 9pm and 6am, before 15 January, you should enquire with your carrier about your new departure time or check online.  

Increased safety measures at airports

All South African airports have stringent safety protocols in place to ensure safe passage for all travellers using their facilities.

These include online check-in, mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing rules.

Under Level 3 lockdown regulations, international travel is restricted to the following airports:
  • OR Tambo International Airport
  • King Shaka International Airport
  • Cape Town International Airport

Border crossings are allowed at 18 of the usual 52 border crossings.

Cape Town International Airport has launched new contactless passport control measures that eliminate any interaction with the Home Affairs passport control officer at the boarding gates.

It’s important to follow the recommended guidelines wherever you are in the world for your own safety as well as that of others.

International travel regulations for South Africa

All travellers to South Africa must take a Covid-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival and complete a traveller health questionnaire before departure.

Passengers must carry a copy of their negative PCR test certificate throughout their travels. This document forms part of the mandatory paperwork check before departing on a flight to or from South Africa.

This paperwork includes:
  1. The traveller health questionnaire
  2. Proof of accommodation with an address
  3. Travel insurance to cover the cost of testing, quarantine or healthcare while in the country. In addition, travellers undergo compulsory health screening for symptoms of Covid-19 and must answer any health-related questions posed by health officials

All travellers to South Africa must download and install the Covid Alert South Africa app on their phones before they arrive.
Children under five years of age may forego the Covid-19 PCR test and airline crew are allowed entry as long as they comply with international safety protocols.
Outbound travellers may have to take a Covid-19 PCR test and must complete the traveller health questionnaire before departure from South Africa. Additionally, they must comply with the necessary safety measures imposed by their next destination.

Most countries require a negative Covid-19 PCR test for travellers arriving from South Africa.
If you’re booking Emirates flights in South Africa for travel to, from or through Dubai you need to comply with the following: Passengers from South Africa must subject themselves to a Covid-19 PCR test at least 96 hours prior to departure for Dubai International Airport. SMS and digital certificates aren’t accepted.

Stay updated

Across the globe, the coronavirus situation fluctuates almost daily. So, if you’re travelling anywhere anytime soon, keep tabs on the latest travel advisories from both your country of departure and your destination.

11 Jan 2021 12:13