With the announcement that international flights may resume in a couple of days in Nigeria, many people looking to travel internationally are probably wondering what to expect at the airports in Lagos and Abuja. I can’t speak much about the protocols at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja but I can talk about a few things to expect at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

Last week, Mark and I took our first international trip this year. We travelled from Lagos to Nairobi via Kenya Airways. As we rode towards the airport, the first thing I noticed was ongoing construction around and just outside the departure area of the airport. So if there’s one thing we can expect when international flights resume as normal, it is longer wait times.

What to Expect at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos

1. Longer Wait Times

Airport authority advice that you plan to arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight. I’d say maybe add an extra hour to that estimate. It’s hard to predict what the traveller turnout will be once regular international flights resume but there’s a probability that it may be on the high side. It is certainly not a bad idea to arrive early to avoid queuing up outside for long.

2. Temperature Checks

Just before you go into the airport building, an official will check your temperature. It is a quick check but there might also be a queue to get past this point once international flights resume.

3. Wearing a Mask is Compulsory

At the moment, it is compulsory to wear a mask within the airport. I didn’t see many airport officials wearing one though.

4. Social Distancing Markings

Passengers will be required to maintain a distance from each other. There are floor and seat markings all over the airport. It would be interesting to see how this is enforced if there is a high influx of travellers when regular international flights resume.

5. Covid-19 PCR Test Certificate Checks

Several airlines are making it mandatory for travellers to have a negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate before they are allowed to travel. Airline staff request for this during check-in. When we travelled, they collected our printouts from us and gave it back to us during boarding. I assume they did this to verify the information but I’m really not sure.

Flying to Nairobi – What to Expect from International Flights

Our flight to Nairobi was barely full. This meant lots of seats were empty and it was easy to maintain a distance from everyone else. I remember a few people predicting that middle seats would vanish as a result of the pandemic. Obviously, this is not the case. Apart from the cabin crew members donning hair coverings, masks, coveralls and gloves throughout the duration of the flight, nothing much was different. Passengers were also expected to put on your masks as well.

Please note that different airlines may have specific protocols and requirements for flights. Be sure to check with them while planning your travels.

Visa Policies: How Much is a Kenyan Visa on Arrival? | How Long Does a Kenyan eVisa Take?

Kenya opened its borders to international visitors on August 1st and visa policies have remained the same as pre-coronavirus times. Like I mentioned in this article, Kenya offers both a visa on arrival and an eVisa, both at the cost of $50, to Nigerian travellers. In order to reduce our wait time at the airport in Nairobi, we opted to get a Kenyan eVisa. We applied on the eVisa website, paid $51 (including a card processing fee) and received our visas by email within 24hours.

At the airports in Lagos and Nairobi, we simply had to show a printed copy of our visas to be allowed to board our flight and enter into the country. Be aware that Nigerian tourists visiting Kenya must hold a return or onward ticket.

Protocols at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi

Jomo Kenyatta airport

An airport shuttle picked us up from the foot of the plane to the terminal building. There were markings in the bus for social distancing but it didn’t look like people adhered to it. Once we were in the building though, social distancing was enforced and our temperature readings were taken again. In addition, we had to complete a coronavirus self-assessment form online. Everything else after this was as per normal procedures.

Quarantine Life in Nairobi

At the time of this writing, the Kenyan Government requires that travellers coming in from specific countries be subjected to a 7-14 day quarantine at any Government chosen hotel. Nigeria is one of such countries. A coronavirus test may also be administered after the 7th and 14th day. Depending on a few factors though, these rules may not totally apply.

If you underwent a COVID-19 test within a few days of your arrival, you could be allowed to stay only 3-4 days at the hotel and undergo self-quarantine at home or your preferred location for the remainder. This is subject to approval by the medical team and the Kenyan Ministry of Health and this policy is reviewed often. So you may visit and there might not be a need for a government-imposed quarantine.

We stayed at the government-approved hotel for 4 days before we were released to self-quarantine at our apartment. I say ‘released’ because it did feel a bit like a fancy prison situation. Every morning, medical personnel came to take our temperature readings. We were given time slots to go out to the balcony for fresh air and weren’t allowed outside our rooms apart from that.

The service at the hotel was very professional and great though. Internet was fast and the food was good. As a homebody stuck with the best guy, it wasn’t a bad experience for me at all. However, I feel very happy we’re out. Although we are currently under self-quarantine, it now feels like we’re really in Nairobi.

Tell me, would you be travelling soon as International flights resume or would you be playing it safe? If you have travelled recently, locally or internationally, what was your experience?

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ah and I thought airports were yet to be opened for international travels, how manage?

    This is the first year I haven’t travelled out of the country since 2007, it feels like living in a big prison called Nigeria. I had made arrangements to travel to Mauritius back in May to celebrate my birthday milestone but all that careful planning had to be cancelled. Got my hotel refund back but airline isn’t shaking body (South African Airways) and I hear they might be going bankrupt.

    Once the airports open I wouldn’t be in a haste to get on a plane out of the country. I shall wait until Corona vaccines are readily available (Russia has an approved one now) most likely by mid next year. Before then I might look for a place in West Africa to go to maybe Casa Del Papa in Benin Republic. I hear it is a lovely beach resort. Do you know of any transport company that takes people to Benin Republic in a Saloon car?

    • Avatar

      Hi Ron, thanks for your comment. Regular flights haven’t resumed yet, I explain how we managed it in my next post.

      Sorry about your birthday plans. The pandemic really changed a lot for everyone. It would be great to have a vaccine. I hope it becomes available soon. Heard an expert say the virus will be with us until 2021 (I sincerely hope not!) Anyway, not sure of transport company but I do know a driver. I’ll send you his details by email.

  2. Avatar

    Hello Amarachi.
    Lovely write up.
    Is quarantine in government approved hotels free or paid for?
    Did you have to undergo another COVID19 test in Nariobi?
    If a person is getting Visa on arrival in Kenya, what does one have to show to immigration at Lagos airport asides passport and ticket?

    • Avatar

      Thanks, Faith. The quarantine cost is borne by the visitor not the government. Depending on how long you stay in quarantine, travellers may be required to undergo another covid-19 test. We didn’t have to take another one.

      I want to point out here though, that no one ‘forced us’ to go into quarantine. We pre-booked to do this on our own based on the govt recommendations. This means, it may no longer be mandatory.

      At the airport, you need a return ticket, passport and yellow card. Once flights resume, Lagos airport officials might insist you travel with a free hundred dollars in cash.

  3. Avatar

    Thanks for the information.
    I asked about the quarantine because some weeks ago I learnt some countries were quarantining traveller’s for free.

    I don’t get the part of free hundred dollars in cash.

    Looking forward to future posts

    • Avatar

      About the money: I think this is dependent on the personnel you encounter. Sometimes, check-in personnel would insist on seeing that you have enough money to cover your trip. When I travelled to SA, they asked to see at least $300. This is actually not mandated but Nigerian immigration/check in officials can be funny at times.

  4. Avatar

    Thanks for your info and glad to here you were treated well in Nairobi Kenya. As a kenyan am proud to be one of them

  5. Avatar

    its a slow start to heading back to the old normal, which I am sure we will never quite reach, but it’s something!

  6. Avatar

    You’ve travelled already? Wow, that’s interesting Amarachi! I’ll be anticipating a writeup maybe detailing how you did it because it’ll actually mean that the Nigerian government is playing us as to when international flights officially resume. Or have ‘African international’ flights kicked off already?

  7. Avatar

    thanks for this write up, i am due to travel to Ethiopia next month but on seeing this quarantine ish on the website i was weakened cos that seems like an extra expense on my part … now na to go dey hustle pcr test and start preparing for the pain sure pass……can coro just go????

I love to hear from you!