Level 3: Step-by-step guide to SA airport process

Airports Company South Africa implements extensive health and safety measures at reopened airports. Picture: Clinton Moodley.Airports Company South Africa implements extensive health and safety measures at reopened airports. Picture: Clinton Moodley.


Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) has put in place extensive physical measures, standard operating procedures and staff training necessary to give effect to the Alert Level 3 regulations announced by the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula over the weekend.

The spokesperson for Airports Company South Africa, Gopolang Peme, said that the measures implemented are comprehensive and cover every aspect of the passenger’s journey from an airport entrance to boarding an aircraft.

Airports Company South Africa reopened its three largest airports, O. R. Tambo International, Cape Town International and King Shaka International, on June 1. Other domestic airports will be opened in phases in the coming weeks.

“Passengers will find that the airport environment has changed considerably. In particular, the new procedures take time and passengers should arrive at the airport at least two hours before the scheduled departure,” said Peme. 

ACSA developed these protocols through engagements with Airports Council International and the International Air Transport Association. The measures being implemented at South African airports conform to the standards recently set out by these organisations.

Here are the new airport procedures 

Arrival at the airport

  • Passengers must use drop-and-go facilities or public transport as only passengers will be allowed into the terminal.

  • Limited parkade options will be available. These are signposted at each airport.

  • Meeters and greeters will not be allowed in the terminal building.

  • Baggage wrapping is now compulsory for all check-in luggage for hygiene reasons.

Airport entrances and access control

  • Many access points have been closed at each airport. Please visit the Airports Company website for details on which access points and terminal entrance points should be used.

  • Access to terminal buildings will therefore be restricted.

  • Physical distancing rules will apply at the terminal entrance.

  • Masks are compulsory from entry to the airport through a flight and out of the destination airport.

  • Port Health will conduct screening checks at entrances.

  • Passengers must produce their business travel permission letters at the entrance.

  • It is the passenger’s responsibility to ensure that they have the necessary permission letter before they book a flight.

Check-in process

  • Passengers should check in online before going to the airport.

  • Online check in can be done at the screens in the terminal building.

  • A limited number of check-in counters will be open and physical distancing rules will apply in these queues.

  • Using a check-in counter will take longer.

Security checkpoint process

  • Passengers will scan their paper-based or mobile device-based boarding pass to the scanner at the security checkpoint.

  • Passengers should remove any metal and electronic items from their person before entering the security queue. This includes mobile devices, watches, jewellery, wallets, keys and so on.

  • These items must be placed in the tray at the security scanner.

  • This process will minimise the need for security officers to conduct physical pat downs at the checkpoint.

Boarding the aircraft

  • Physical distancing rules apply for queues to board an aircraft.

  • Passengers must scan their boarding pass at the boarding gate.

  • Boarding will be done in a controlled manner with passengers travelling in the rear seats of the aircraft boarding first. Passengers with tickets for Row A, for example, will board last.

  • Masks must be worn for the duration of the flight.

Disembarking from an aircraft

  • Masks must continue to be used when disembarking and moving towards the baggage carousels.

  • Physical distancing rules will apply at the baggage carousels.

  • Crowding close to the baggage carousels will not be permitted.