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Africa is one of the most exciting, culture-rich places in the world. I absolutely love Africa. I’ve gone to several countries including Egypt, Kenya, and Ethiopia. As you can imagine, I’ve had my fair share of plane rides throughout the continent. From my experiences, I’ve been able to compile a list of the best airlines to fly to Africa. When I’m taking long flights, I look for specific things in an air carrier.
When I’m taking long flights, I look for specific things in an air carrier. If you’re curious to learn more about why I chose the airlines in this article, just keep reading on my guide on the best airlines to fly to Africa.
My Favorite Pick Upfront
I must say, my favorite airline to fly with is Egyptair. In my experience, I feel like I got the most from them. The service was nice, the food was good, and I didn’t have any issues. Not to mention, they allow two free checked bags, which definitely came in handy. When I’m traveling to certain countries within Africa, I usually opt for Egypt air as my go-to air carrier.
My Top African Airlines at a Glance
As I mentioned above, my favorite airline to fly to Africa is Egyptair. They are great in my opinion. However, a close contender is Ethiopian Airlines. I was satisfied with the overall experience I had with them. They need work in the customer service department, but other than that, I really like them. But it’s not like their customer service was horrible, so that’s why I can still fly with them. I didn’t feel like the staff was rude when I flew with them, I just felt like there was room for improvement.
My Tips for Flying to Africa on African Airlines
Make Sure You Do Your Research
Not all African airlines are created equal. Some have better safety records than others, so it’s important to do your research before booking a flight. I learned this the hard way, and I can’t stress it enough. Check out airline safety websites to see which airlines have the best safety records. My suggestion is to stick with well-known airlines that are most prominent throughout the continent.
Be Prepared for a Different Flying Experience
African airlines tend to be less formal than their Western counterparts. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to be aware of. Dress comfortably and be prepared for a more relaxed flying experience. The flight won’t be too bad, but if you’re observant like I am, you’ll notice a slight difference.
Carry Noticeable Luggage
Since several African airlines allow two checked bags, you want to ensure that both are noticeable. If anything were to happen, you want to make sure that you have your information on your bags. It’s also a good idea for your luggage to be a bright color. Furthermore, I always pack a carry-on. Having two checked bags is good, but if anything happens, you’ll want an extra set of clothes. You don’t want two bags of your belongings missing until you get your luggage back.
My Selection Criteria
Okay, I chose the airlines on this list for specific reasons. Here’s a breakdown of my criteria:
A Good Reputation
The airlines listed in this article have good reputations. They are some of the most well-known air carriers in Africa. I always look for the major airlines when I’m flying to Africa—or any country for that matter. I want to feel at ease, especially on a long call flight. All of the air carriers on this list make the cut.
I also like to fly with airlines that have comfortable seats. For instance, Ethiopian Airlines has newer planes. I was definitely able to tell the difference when I flew with them. When I’m choosing an airline, I usually try to find reviews and look at pictures of the interior of the aircraft.
Generous Bag Allowance
I like flying with airlines that give me more bang for my buck. Instead of charging me for an extra checked bag, I’d like to get it for free. The good news is, lots of African airlines are very generous with bag allowance. That’s a big deal for me.
My Favorite African Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines is one of the largest and most popular airlines in Africa. The airline is a member of the Star Alliance, which offers passengers additional benefits, such as access to a wider network of airports and lounges. They offer flights to many major cities on the continent, including Johannesburg, Nairobi, and Cairo.
Ethiopian Airlines’ baggage allowance includes one free checked bag, which is generous compared to other airlines. The max weight limit for a single bag is 32 kg. Ethiopian Airlines also offers in-flight entertainment, including movies, TV shows, and music. Also, passenger meals are complimentary on Ethiopian Airlines flights.
- Good on-time record
Ethiopian Airlines is known for being on time with their flights. Unless there’s a safety issue, they get passengers to their destination right on schedule.
- Newer Planes
Ethiopian Airlines also has a newer fleet of planes, which can make for a more comfortable flight. Personally, I enjoy flying on airlines with a new fleet. The seats are more relaxing and there are fewer issues. For instance, an older aircraft might have broken outlets or televisions. The likelihood of that occurring on an up-to-date aircraft is small.
- Long Layovers
For some routes, Ethiopian Airlines has a very long layover. For example, when flying from Los Angeles to Addis Ababa, the layover is nearly 23 hours long. If you’re not a fan of spending a lot of time in an airport, this airline might not be for you. Of course, long layovers are expected when flying internationally, but full-day layovers are a bit much.
- Subpar Customer Service
While Ethiopian Airlines doesn’t have horrible customer service, they definitely could improve. Compared to other air carriers, they rank lower in customer satisfaction. So, if you’re someone who needs top-notch service, this airline may not meet your expectations.
Kenya Airways is another excellent choice for flying to Africa. The airline offers flights to many major cities on the continent. Their baggage allowance includes two free checked bags, with a max weight limit of 23 kg for Economy and 32kg for Business Class. Kenya Airlines also offers complimentary meals and in-flight entertainment on most flights.
- Good Safety Record
Kenya Airways has a good safety record, which is always a priority when I fly. When I’m taking any flight, safety is a must for me. However, I’m even more cautious when taking long-haul flights.
- Generous Baggage Allowance
I absolutely love that Kenya Airways allows two pieces of checked luggage for free! This is very generous when compared to other airlines. If you’re planning a long trip, this can come in handy. I’ve definitely taken advantage of this amenity.
- Good Customer Service
From my experience, Kenya Airways offers great customer service. The employees are always willing to help, and they go out of their way to make passengers comfortable. This is extremely important to me.
- Delayed Flights
Although it’s rare, Kenya Airways has been known to have delayed flights. This can be frustrating, especially if you’re on a tight schedule. I haven’t experienced this personally with them, but I know people who have.
- Bland Food
I wasn’t impressed with the food on Kenya Airways. It was bland and unappetizing. If you’re someone who enjoys good food, this might not be the airline for you. The food isn’t repulsive, but if you’re a picky eater, I suggest taking an abundance of snacks.
South African Airways
South African Airways is another great choice when flying within Africa. The airline offers flights to many major cities on the continent, including Accra, Lagos, and Cairo. I utilized this carrier several times to get me to my African destinations. The baggage allowance includes two free checked bags, with a max weight limit of 23 kg for Economy and 32kg for Business Class. South African Airways also offers complimentary meals and in-flight entertainment on most flights.
- Good Food
I enjoyed the food on South African Airways. The meals were hearty and filling. I didn’t have to worry about being hungry during my long flight.
- Comfortable Seats
The seats were comfortable and there was plenty of legroom. I’m tall, so this is always a priority for me when flying. I didn’t feel cramped or restricted in any way.
- Generous Baggage
I can’t stress enough how important it is that South African Airways offers two free checked bags. When I’m traveling for an extended period of time, I need extra bags. It’s difficult when one airline offers something, but the other doesn’t. The good news is, the majority of African air carriers allow two checked bags. So, when I fly into the continent, it’s good to know that I can continue to get two free checked bags when flying throughout Africa on South African Airways.
- Customer Service
The customer service on South African Airways could use some improvement. I’ve had some negative experiences with the airline in this area. The employees can be unhelpful. This is a major downside for me.
- Canceled Flights
Another downside of South African Airways is that they have been known to cancel flights. This has happened to me before, and it’s very frustrating. I understand that things happen, but it’s still a major inconvenience.
Egyptair is another great choice for flying to Africa. They offer flights to many well-known cities throughout Africa. The airline offers two free checked bags, with a weight limit of 23 kg. However, some fare classes have different baggage rules. Be sure to check the baggage policy before you book your flight. Egyptair also offers complimentary meals on most flights.
- In-Flight Wi-Fi
I was pleasantly surprised by the in-flight Wi-Fi. I didn’t expect it to be strong, but it was. This was a game-changer for me because some airlines have very spotty Wi-Fi.
- Good Food
The food on Egyptair was much better than I anticipated. I was expecting bland, unappetizing food. However, the meals were flavorful and filling. I was very impressed.
- Limited In-Flight Entertainment
Although the Wi-Fi is good, the in-flight entertainment is limited. There are only a few movies and TV shows to choose from. If you’re someone who likes to have a lot of entertainment options, be sure to download a show on your phone or iPad.
FAQs about Flying to Africa
Answer: When flying to Africa, it is important to consider the following:
Your travel route: Make sure to map out your travel route in advance and take into account any stopovers or layovers.
Your travel dates: Be aware of the climate and weather conditions at your destination and plan your trip accordingly.
Your travel insurance: Make sure you are fully insured in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
Answer: For some countries, yes. It is advisable to consult with a travel doctor to find out which vaccinations you will need for the countries you are visiting. In most cases, you’ll need to get treated for malaria and yellow fever.
Answer: This depends on your nationality and the country you are visiting. It is advisable to check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting for the most up-to-date visa requirements.
My Closing Thoughts on Flying to Africa
Well, I can say that the airlines on this list haven’t let me down. Between the generous baggage allowance and the reliable service, I’m always satisfied. My final suggestion for you is to weigh the pros and cons of each air carrier. Although Egyptair and Ethiopian Airlines are my favorite, I’ll always look at all four carriers to see which one has the best deal. If you opt for one of the airlines on this list, you’ll likely have a good experience. I sure hope so.
Thanks for reading my guide, and enjoy your trip to Africa!
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