Zanzibar Airport

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Customer rating from 9 reviews
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8/10

"a bit like travelling used to be"

(United Kingdom)

Verified Review | Travelling from Stone Town Airport Zanzibar City is a bit like travelling used to be in the old days. Firstly, when I approached the airport building down a walkway, I was stopped by a security person who asked for our tickets. That we no longer have plane tickets caused no problem because I had an official printed version of my itinerary, e-ticket number and 6 character booking code. If you do not, you will be sent off to some isolated part of the airfield area to get one (as were a bemused couple in front of me) – from whom I have no idea because the only people likely to be able to provide one are in the terminal. Next we went through the standard x-ray security system. There was only one x-ray machine, they were concerned about my belt and watch but not about any liquids I was carrying. Inside the terminal building were a number of desks for the current flights. Our luggage was weighed on some old scales positioned behind us, then tagged and we were told by a cheerful man that they would be put on a trolley and wheeled out to the plane – no conveyor belts to go wrong here! Then it was time to fill in the Departure Form, queue for immigration, a photograph, fingerprints, another stamp on the visa and we were ready to go through security again in order to get into the departure lounge. This time water was confiscated, and belts and watches removed for the security gate. The departure lounge was small with sufficient seating for two lightly filled planes. There was no air conditioning anywhere so it was very hot and humid. Replacement water was available in the duty free ($1 a bottle) and there were a couple of shops selling snacks and drinks and some very third world toilets. Surprisingly, the duty free had a very good range of children’s books about Africa. Although there are no departure screens, there were fairly clear boarding announcements. Surprisingly there was good free wifi accessed through a passworded system – the password is helpfully given on the log-in page. All passengers are coached to their planes unless they are boarding one of the small tree hugger planes which also use the airport. All building work on the nearby large new terminal seems to have stopped. Although somewhat chaotic and old fashioned, the airport worked for us without any problems other than the heat and humidity.
Experience At AirportDeparture Only
Date VisitSeptember 2017
Type Of TravellerCouple Leisure
Queuing Times 12345
Terminal Cleanliness 12345
Terminal Seating 12345
Terminal Signs 12345
Food Beverages 12345
Airport Shopping 12345
Wifi Connectivity 12345
Airport Staff 12345
yes
3/10

"absolutely chaotic"

(United Arab Emirates)

Absolutely chaotic. Lines snaking all over the place. You have to pay for the visa by credit card in one queue and join another for the visa. $50 for all but American who pay double. Believe me, it does't seem to be getting used in any way. Only one bureau de change but rates okay and he was efficient. Baggage? No carousel. The staff member asked me what colour my bag was and identifies it this way. It is supposed to be scanned but I bypassed this and nobody moved off the chair. Outside the airport is basic, very basic. Taxi drivers and hotel pickups are outside in the dark. The road immediately outside the airport is in extremely poor condition. I have been to many places and this is one of the worst I have seen.
Experience At AirportArrival Only
Date VisitMarch 2016
Type Of TravellerSolo Leisure
Queuing Times 12345
Terminal Cleanliness 12345
Terminal Signs 12345
Food Beverages 12345
Airport Staff 12345
no
2/10

Zanzibar Airport customer review

(United Kingdom)

Terrible, we turned up 2 and a half hours before we depart on our flight and we only just got through check in at 5.25 (5 mins before we fly whilst they announced to the flight that we were late - which was not true as we had been stuck in the check in queue for over 2 hours!). They then went on to leave a family of 5 and flew without them - they had also been stuck in the check in queue for over 2 hours like us. Because the airport in its infinite genius has decided to check 2 flights in on one desk with one person behind it who was beyond describing as 'slow'! We ran across the runway unescorted to our flight and nearly got ran over by our own luggage tractor! The airport is hot and stuffy and staff are seemingly non caring to the struggles of travellers who are unaware of what they need to go next through a complete lack of signage, facilities and anything you consider useful in any airport of the 21st century! There is no air conditioning just ceiling and wall mounted fans which serve as much purpose as a chocolate tea pot! It was 35-40 degrees outside and the airport was roasting and cramped everywhere you looked! If the island wasn't such a gem of the Indian Ocean the airport alone is enough to stop you from wanting to go - for the islands tourism interests I pray the new airport is built sooner than planned for fear of losing business. Whilst they are at it - get some check in staff who actually want to do something - the lady on the check in for Precision Airways may as well have been at home as the baggage attendants were trying to hurry her up and she was having none of it (even though she knew we would miss our flight if she didn't speed up). Hope this is useful travellers!
Experience At AirportArrival and Departure
Date VisitAugust 2015
Type Of TravellerFamily Leisure
Queuing Times 12345
Terminal Cleanliness 12345
Terminal Seating 12345
Terminal Signs 12345
Food Beverages 12345
Airport Shopping 12345
Airport Staff 12345
no
2/10

Zanzibar Airport customer review

(United States)

The worst airport I have ever transited through. The building is old and not air-conditioned. The arrival hall is too small to handle a 767-300. The hall gets crowded and there is confusion as to which form to fill out. Tanzania does not recognize East African Visa nonetheless we had to fill both forms out. The entry fee for USA citizens is now $100 - everyone else $50.00. Baggage Claim does not have a conveyor belt - rather the bags are taken from the baggage cart and stacked in the hall. The departure area is marginally larger - no air conditioning - Baggage has to pass through a x-ray machine before being allowed to enter the check in area. Once the baggage is tagged - the bags are carried by a porter through a secured area to a waiting car to be loaded on to the plain. The one bright spot is the Dhow Lounge on the second level of departure lounge. It is air conditioned provides hot and cold food snacks and beverages. However the bathrooms are outside the lounge and lack AC. There is a new terminal building being built. Zanzibar needs it. Why this hasn't happened earlier given the number of tourists that come here is befuddling.
Queuing Times 12345
Terminal Cleanliness 12345
Airport Shopping 12345
no
4/10

Zanzibar Airport customer review

(United Kingdom)

An old fashioned airport which is not very efficient but we left on time and didn't have long to wait in the packed departure lounge. However there is a US$49 departure tax which is taken at the same time as checking in. It is a very haphazard process with the money just being stuffed in a brown envelope. We paid US$50 and 80000 Tanzanian shillings for two of us as I didn't have another $50 note. No change was offered and when questioned the official said that the tax is actually 85000 shillings (if not paying in $) which is way more than $49 so he was doing us a favour! Beware - take $ rather than shillings for the departure tax otherwise you end up paying over the odds just to leave the country.
Queuing Times 12345
Terminal Cleanliness 12345
Airport Shopping 12345
no
1/10

Zanzibar Airport customer review

(United States)

The airport in Zanzibar is out of date. The building looks ok but that is its best feature. It is a good walk from every plane to the terminal. Baggage claim is yet to enter the 'belt era' staff put bags on tables for collection. At departure check-in you need to carry your bag to the x-ray machine and wait for it to pass inspection. There is only one small waiting room with poor air conditioning. Seating is limited. Food and other services in the departure area are limited.
Queuing Times 12345
Terminal Cleanliness 12345
Airport Shopping 12345
no
2/10

Zanzibar Airport customer review

(United Kingdom)

Zanzibar airport would almost be bearable if it wasn't for the fact that its runway is long enough to cope with 767s which means it becomes chaotic and overloaded when having to cope with direct international flights. The current electricity supply problem also means that the airport is totally reliant on generators. When we arrived early evening we discovered that the generator had packed up so the airport was operating by candlelight or battery-powered torches. Thankfully our plane was an 15-seater and the non-functioning baggage carousel wasn't required. On the other hand departure for Dar es Salaam meant a long queue at the curbside check-in at the same time as two flights bound for Italy: utter chaos but amazingly planes did take off more or less on time.
Queuing Times 12345
Terminal Cleanliness 12345
Airport Shopping 12345
no
2/10

Zanzibar Airport customer review

Not bad for a regional airport for arriving in Zanzibar. However on departure the lines can be long (arrive early) departure taxes and security take time. The airport was great in 1940 but like the town (Stonetown) should be declared a UNESCO world historical site. The 'air conditioning' is good but only when they open the lounge windows.
no