Flying to Africa
Airfares can to be cheaper when booked from the European capital that has a strong colonial link to your destination, which typically means from London, Paris, Brussels and Lisbon. Egypt also which has plentiful, cheap connections with the Middle East & Europe, Kenya, which is increasingly an important air travel hub, owing to its strategic location on the continent, South Africa and a handful of West African destinations (e.g. Cape Verde, Morocco) popular with British tourists and accessible with cheap holiday flights.
Airlines such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways & Turkish Airlines have greatly expanded their services to Africa, and offer connections to many major African cities at competitive rates than other European airlines. Turkish Airlines flies to 39 destinations in 30 African countries as of 2014.
If you have additional travel time, check to see how your total fare quote to Africa compares with a round-the-world fare. Don't forget to add in the extra costs of additional visas, departure taxes, ground transportation, etc. for all those places outside of Africa.
See your destination's article for more specific information on flights. Bear in mind that many African countries only offer a few international flights each day, or in some cases, each week. While it isn't hard to reach South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria or Egypt, getting to Malawi or Togo can be quite a challenge.
There are more flights to Africa from Europe than from any other continent. Popular holiday destinations such as Egypt, Morocco, Cape Verde, Kenya & South Africa are well-served from Europe's major cities, even with discount and charter airlines. Royal Air Maroc, Afriqyah Airlines, Kenya Airways Jet4you & EgyptAir have a good selection of European destinations and Ethiopian, Kenya Airways, South African Airways & Arik Air serve a couple of major cities (London, Paris, etc.). The cheapest flights to African cities are often through the African country's former colonial power. Cities with large immigrant populations such as London, Marseilles, & Paris have a good number of flights to Africa.
Chief among European airlines flying to Africa are:
- Air France is the best (although not cheapest) carrier serving French-speaking Africa, with service to most major cities of West, Central, & North Africa along with services to Johannesburg, Cairo, Tripoli, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion, & Djibouti.
- British Airways is the best (although not particularly cheap) way to fly to former British colonies, they have service to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, & Egypt along with Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritius and Angola.
- Brussels Airlines flies from Brussels to most francophone countries in West and Central Africa along with Entebbe (Uganda), Nairobi and Luanda.
- Lufthansa flies to major cities in North Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
- TAP Portugal flies to former Portuguese colonies (Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome & Principe, Mozambique, Angola) and South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, & Senegal.
- Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul to: Abidjan, Accra, Addis Ababa, Asmara (begins 19 August 2014), Bamako (begins 30 June 2014), Cape Town, Conakry (begins 30 June 2014), Cotonou (begins 23 June 2014), Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Douala, Entebbe (Kampala), Johannesburg, Kano, Khartoum, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, Luanda, Mogadishu, Mombasa, N'Djamena, Nairobi, Niamey, Nouakchott, Ouagadougou, & Yaounde.
Many European discount airlines serve major tourist destination in Africa (especially Morocco, Cape Verde, Tunisia, Egypt, & the Gambia), including Jetairfly, EasyJet, & Corsairfly. There are a good amount of connections between France and Reunion, Madagascar, Comoros, and Mauritius.
From the Americas
- All the options noted below involve many flying hours to destination, and demands on stamina that can stress mature travelers. They should consider scheduled flights that allow such as overnight stays en route.
- For all, take care about en route stops. Ensure they have adequate facilities, staff (and nearby lodging if needed) and are not suffering disruptions due to strikes, protests, etc., e.g., see Lagos.
From the United States, these were routes operated as of June 2014:
- New York-JFK: Delta Air Lines to Accra, Dakar, & Monrovia; South African Airways to Johannesburg; EgyptAir to Cairo; Royal Air Maroc to Casablanca; & Arik Air to Lagos.
- Washington-Dulles: South African Airlines to Johannesburg (via Dakar); Ethiopian Airlines to Addis Ababa
- Atlanta: Delta Air Lines to Johannesburg & Lagos
- Houston-Intercontinental: United Airlines to Lagos
Delta's Flight 200/201 between Atlanta & Johannesburg was listed as the second longest non-stop scheduled, commercial flight by distance, after Qantas Flight 7 from Sydney to Dallas/Ft.Worth (it's actually 757 km longer than the Johannesburg-New York flight by Great Circle distance!). By scheduled time between departure & landing, it's also the second longest scheduled, commercial flight (at 16 hr, 40 min), behind a Saudia flight between Jeddah & Los Angeles (16 hr, 55 min).
Outside the peak travel times to Europe (e.g. summer) you might be able to get a good deal to London or Paris and book a fare from there to Africa separately on a European travel website. But don't book the United States to Europe portion until you get confirmed on the Europe to Africa portion first. Through fares to Africa from the United States can be quite expensive, so avoiding peak travel times to Europe can sometimes save a lot. However, since new non-stop flights to Africa have recently been added, and Europe is much more expensive than it used to be, try getting a direct quote first, then see if you can do better. Another growing option is flying through the Middle East on Emirates, Qatar Airways, or Turkish Airlines, which serve a reasonable selection of African & American cities.
In Canada, Montreal is connected to Casablanca by Royal Air Maroc and Algiers by Air Algerie. TAAG Angolan Airlines offers weekly service to Havana—the last of the heavily-subsidized communist friends routes Cuba has to Africa (former routes include Tripoli, Maputo, & Conakry).
Connections from South America are (as of June 2014):
- São Paulo: South African Airways to Johannesburg; TAAG Angolan Airlines to Luanda
- Rio de Janeiro: TAAG Angolan Airlines to Luanda
- Caracas: Air Europa to Tenerife-North (seasonal)
- Fortaleza: ArkeFly to Tenerife-South
- Natal: ArkeFly to Tenerife-South
From Asia and the Middle East
If you're flying to a smaller African country, many of Africa's major airlines all have extensive coverage in Africa and fly to a handful of Asian destinations:
- Ethiopian Airlines: Bangkok, Beijing, Beirut, Dammam, Delhi, Dubai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jeddah, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait City, Mumbai, Muscat, Riyadh, Sana'a, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tel Aviv.
- Kenya Airways: Bangkok, Delhi, Dubai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jeddah, & Mumbai.
- South African Airways: Beijing, Hong Kong, Mumbai.
Nearly all North African countries along with Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, & Somalia have extensive connections with the Middle East. And similarly, countries with large Muslim populations are likely to have a connection to Jedda/Mecca either year-round or seasonal (e.g. during hajj). North African destinations aside, connections with the Middle East include (as of June 2014):
- Emirates flies from Dubai to: Abidjan, Abuja (begins 1 August 2014), Accra, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Entebbe (Kampala), Harare, Kano (begins 1 August 2014), Khartoum, Johannesburg, Lagos, Luanda, Lusaka, Mahe, Mauritius, & Nairobi.
- Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to: Johannesburg, Khartoum, Lagos, Mahe, & Nairobi
- Qatar Airways flies from Doha to: Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti (begins 27 July 2014), Entebbe (Kampala), Johannesburg, Khartoum, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Lagos, Maputo, & Nairobi.
Other flights from East and South Asia include the following:
- Air Austral flies to Bangkok & Chennai from Reunion.
- Air Madagascar flies from Antananarivo to Bangkok & Guangzhou.
- Air Mauritius flies from Mauritius to Bangalore, Beijing, Chennai, Delhi, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Shanghai, & Singapore.
- Air Seychelles flies from Mahe to Abu Dhabi & Hong Kong.
- Cathay Pacific flights to Johannesburg.
- China Southern Airlines from Shenzen to Mauritius.
- EgyptAir from Cairo to Bangkok, Beijing, Guangzhou, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, & Mumbai.
- Korean Air serves Nairobi from Seoul.
- Mihin Lanka Colombo to Mahe.
- Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Johannesburg.
- Thai Airways International from Bangkok to Johannesburg.
If you want to fly in directly from Australia, your choices are limited to flights between Australia and South Africa. Of particular note is the Qantas flight from Sydney to Johannesburg, which passes close enough to Antarctica for it to be seen.
- General aviation such as bush planes