So you’ve got a flight leaving Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport and suddenly you remember that the airport has two terminals — and they’re not connected.
Let’s get that out of the way: international flights all depart from Terminal 2. Domestic flights on Air Tanzania, Fastjet and Precision Air, also depart from Terminal 2.
Or, to put it another way: big planes, Terminal 2; little planes, Terminal 1.
But all of this won’t matter if you don’t make it to the airport at all: it may only be 12 kilometers between town and the airport but you can easily get stuck in traffic for over 2 hours.
So, to avoid you having to hop out of your taxi and jump on the back of a motorcycle with your luggage, leave plenty early. Seriously.
While we’re talking about transport: make sure you keep your doors locked and ideally keep your luggage out of sight. We know too many people who’ve been targeted by thieves prowling during traffic jams because of visible luggage in their vehicles.
If you’ve made it to the airport before your check-in gate is open, you’ll be asked to wait in an open-air seating area. (There’s a cafe up the flight of stairs, if you need something to munch on while you wait. They have workers who will bring your bags up for you.)
Once your check-in counter is open, you’ll show your ticket, ID and pass through security before entering the airport.
Be very mindful of your belongings and don’t pass through security before your bags do.
Corruption has decreased, but we still hear of attempts to ‘inspecting wallets’ or claims such as ‘it’s illegal to take more than $100 out of the country, you can leave the rest with me.’
Then there are totally legitimate laws that seem like scams, but aren’t: like the wood tax (which keeps coming back.)
It’s important you educate yourself on the laws which may pertain to you. Nobody wants to end up in airport jail.
Depending on your destination, you may need to get your documents checked again. If you booked by credit card, you may need to show that as well.
Check-in is fairly routine, provided that everything is going smoothly.
The gates are in the “upstairs” of the airport, which is partitioned using glass half-walls.
More often than not, the air conditioning is working as is the free wifi.
If flying domestically, you will pass a document verification counter before passing through security again.
Once through security, you’ve got one shop and a cafe to keep you entertained.
Like most airport cafes, it leaves a lot to be desired, but there is plenty of cold beer to hold you over.
On the international side, you’ll first pass through customs. (If you’re a visitor, you’ll need to fill the provided forms before going up to the customs wickets.)
After customs, you will pass a document verification counter before passing through security again.
There are a handful of gift shops to browse, as well as a cafe serving the same menu as on the domestic side.
Business class passengers will find the Tanzanite lounge down a flight of stairs.
Boarding flights is often chaos. Sometimes flights are not on the monitors, other times the loudspeaker system isn’t working. We’ve even seen international flights board through the domestic side.
Of course, all this will change when the new terminal is ready.
If you’re flying out of Terminal 1, you pass through security, drop your bags at the check-in counter, settle in for a cup of coffee at the cafe and wonder where that spiral staircase goes.
But, at this point, you’ve made it. You’ll pass down that telescoping corridor and feel the humid punch of Dar’s ocean-front climate one last time.