Last updated on October 30th, 2020; Published on August 23rd, 2020
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
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?