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1st time Int. Flight - JFK Airport to Johannesburg to Durban

4 posts
1st time Int. Flight - JFK Airport to Johannesburg to Durban

I'm curious about the current conditions at the O.R. Tambo airport and trying to get through immigrations and customs to make my connecting flight to Durban.

I have been reading online that customs in Johannesburg is terrible. Theft of items in checked baggage or 'lost baggage' and then terrible signage or disjointed lines. I don't even know what the process actually is. So for my questions.

1. After arriving at the airport will be fairly obvious where I need to go next? A sign to immigration customs? Just follow the folks around me?

2. Do they give you all of checked bags back? Is this process fairly quick? I worry about my luggage being on a conveyor belt and me not being able to get to it quickly.

3. I am going to be in in Durban for a over 3 weeks, I was planning on bring stuff for myself and for my friends, like starbucks ground coffee, aveeno lotion, candy etc, a few items from home, will these items be something customs wants me to pay for?

4. Lastly will I be able to watch the inspection of my luggage/carry on etc, to try to eliminate any immediate theft?

I'm so stressed out by so many negative posts, I'm packing light but there some items I'd like to be take with me.

4 replies to this topic
Long Island, New...
Level Contributor
6,616 posts
21 reviews
1. Re: 1st time Int. Flight - JFK Airport to Johannesburg to Durban

Stop reading all the craziness! Your luggage will be fine. Like when packing for anywhere, don’t pack valuables, jewelry, medicines, etc. Take them as carry on. Same as everyplace. The airport is well signed. You’ll be fine - you can’t really go anywhere without going through passport control/immigration.

Give you all of your checked bags? If you checked them, they should be on the carousel upon arrival. If not, file a lost luggage report at the counter. Luggage gets lost too often. It’s more likely lost by the airline than stolen. The airline will deliver it once they track it down.

They have Starbucks in S Africa (and other nice coffees). I think I saw Aveeno the last time I was there. They even have candy. They have just about everything available in Europe and more and more N American products - I was pretty excited to see Heinz Ketchup and Hellmann Mayo last time! You won’t be charged for items under a certain amount but there are lots of things not allowed - mostly food and flora. Check the S Africa customs website. Try to enjoy the local products - it’s part of the fun of travel. Experience new stuff.

You’re going to love it.

Johannesburg, South...
Destination Expert
for Johannesburg
Level Contributor
5,688 posts
2. Re: 1st time Int. Flight - JFK Airport to Johannesburg to Durban


One wonders why, and by whom this stuff is perpetuated.

The airport has good signage, it works just like any big airport anywhere. No need to bring Starbucks and candy etc...we have better coffee, in fact some of the best coffees in the world (Google it). We make excellent sweets (candy) etc etc. Do try droe wors, & biltong while you are here (MUCH better than jerky) and especially in Durban, you must try a bunny chow!

Port Elizabeth
Destination Expert
for South Africa
Level Contributor
6,534 posts
3. Re: 1st time Int. Flight - JFK Airport to Johannesburg to Durban

South Africa has a far nicer and wider range of chocolates, chips and coldrinks, than they had in the USA when I went there a few years back.

I hate coffee out of a paper cup, so I avoid Starbucks.

Cape Town Central...
Level Contributor
362 posts
38 reviews
4. Re: 1st time Int. Flight - JFK Airport to Johannesburg to Durban

Hi Candice C

Just returned from the US 6 months ago, and I can also say I think we have much better chips, chocolates and coffee here in South Africa.

Do not stress too much, try and relax and follow the advice the other posters have given you, yes crime is a reality but it could happen anywhere, just keep the faith that everything will work out perfectly.

Enjoy your time!


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