Go-to guide for passengers and drop-offs/pick-ups at Johannesburg airport

SA airport terminals will soon open to non-passengers again

Wendy Knowler Consumer journalist
Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport terminal will soon be reopened to members of the public. File image.
Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport terminal will soon be reopened to members of the public. File image.
Image: Gallo

SA’s airport terminals will soon be reopened to the public for the first time since the hard lockdown of late March.

OR Tambo International Airport management has revealed this to TimesLIVE, and confirmed domestic travellers are no longer required to complete the health declaration forms.

In addition, airport management is finally tackling the dreaded chaotic pick-up and drop-off zones at the airport.

The lower level roadway will reopen — for pick-ups only — on December 7.

The date on which when non-travellers will again be allowed to enter airport terminals has yet to be announced.

“We are studying the requirements of the new regulations and will announce a date for the full opening of terminal buildings as soon as possible,” said OR Tambo airport spokesperson Samukelo Khambule.

The biggest impact of this decision will be on the thousands of retail and restaurant employees of airport outlets who have been without work since March.

On the issue of maintaining physical distancing in airports during the peak holiday season, Khambule said airport management were reluctant to adopt a “heavy-handed approach” to enforcing physical distancing.

“Ideally, we should be able to rely on the good judgment of people accustomed to the same rules across the rest of the country around masks, physical distancing, and sanitisation.

“The onus is on every individual to protect themselves and everyone else by following these rules.”

There are no more Covid-19 forms for passengers to fill in, print and hand to health officials at domestic passenger terminals. They will now only be screening passengers travelling to and from international destinations.

Temperature screening at all terminals will continue.


Travellers arriving at OR Tambo in recent months have walked out of main airport building and into an overcrowded, shambolic pick-up zone on level 2 of the parking garage.

Those arriving at the airport, which is Africa’s busiest, for the first time since lockdown have to ask airport personnel where to go and how to get there. Several terminal entrances and exits are closed, and there is no signage directing passengers to the new pick-up area.

“Cathie B” tweeted: “The pick-up area at OR Tambo is dangerous. My daughter was accosted by taxi drivers, and was traumatised by the time I collected her.”

“Use Lanseria next time,” @GI_Irvin responded.

“I changed because of that pick-up point situation. It’s stuffy, with smokers, engine fuel, and it’s overcrowded.”

Both were responding to this tweet by motoring personality Ciro De Siena: “Please, please please OR Tambo International, change the pick-up situation at your airport. It’s so awful, I literally can’t think of a way that you could make it any worse. I’ve been flying since the first day of level 3 lockdown and I absolutely dread landing at this airport.”

With pre-Covid-19 signage still in place in the airport precinct, motorists have complained that when they approached in fast flowing traffic, they were unsure where the current drop-off zones were, given that police vehicles are stationed at the ramp leading to the former drop-off zone at domestic departures.

“The CEO and COO of the Airports Company SA (Acsa) are aware of the challenges posed by implementing the access control measures required by the Civil Aviation Authority,” Khambule said.

“We have in recent weeks been considering ways to improve the congestion situation on level 2 of Parkade 2 South in light of complaints.”

Here’s what they have come up with:


From Monday, the lower level roadway will be open for pick-ups only, as before Covid-19, but only at two specific spots: nearest to pillars six and 14.

“Pillars on the lower roadway are numbered and serve as location bearings. The lower level roadway is the most convenient area for passengers to be picked up as it is on the same level as the terminal arrivals hall,” Khambule said.

Parking levels 2, 3 and 4 of Parkade 2 South can still be used for passenger pick-ups.

“We anticipate opening the lower roadway and the use of three parking levels for pick-ups in Parkade 2 South will ease congestion and offer options for the consumer. The first 30 minutes of parking at all the three parking levels is free. You do not have to get out of your car and go to a pay machine. The scanner at the exit boom will recognise you are leaving within the 30 minutes and allow you a free exit.

WATCH OUT: Level 2 is not for overnight stays, and the tariffs are designed to discourage that. An overnight stay can cost you several thousand rand.

Levels 3 and 4 of Parkade 2 South are for standard parking where the normal short, medium and long term rates apply. On those two levels, Acsa has also introduced, for a limited time until next year, a 30-minute free period to encourage dropping off.

If you are fetching someone arriving on an international flight, go to Parkade 1, level 1. This basement parkade has easy access to the international arrivals area.

The open-air piazza area is open for metered taxis, e-hailing services and public transport. The airport terminal exit door on the ground level is open to give ease of access to passengers using these services.


The upper roadway is open for drop-offs. Two terminal entrances on this level are open, allowing passengers easy access to airline check-in counters.

“The metro police control access and movement on the upper roadway to prevent congestion,” Khambule said.

“Vehicles left unattended will be clamped and or towed.”

The long-term parkade known as Parkade 2 North, levels -1 and -2, located under the City Lodge, is open.

Acsa’s “super-economical” long stay facility on level -1 costs R65 per 24 hours after a three-day stay. The pre-booked option discounts parking fees from day 1, provided you have pre-booked on this website. The website booking page will give a 50% discount to rates [also reducing down to R65 per 24-hour period] if booked five days or more in advance.

“This has become a very popular parking facility and is much cheaper than the use of any alternative transport modes. We have a dedicated pre-booking level which is on the -2 level below ground and has direct access from the main entrance roadway,” Khambule said.

Regarding the lack of signage at the airport, Khambule said roadway signage would be simplified and updated “as soon as the procurement process we embarked on to secure a directional service provider has been concluded”.

“Inside the terminal buildings, with the opening of the lower roadway for pick-ups, the passenger route from international and domestic arrivals to the nearest terminal exits will be clear, as before the pandemic.”

“We will soon launch a new marketing campaign to communicate all the parking and access options from the passenger’s perspective,” Khambule said.

GET IN TOUCH: Wendy Knowler specialises in consumer journalism. You can reach her via e-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za or on Twitter: @wendyknowler

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