Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta – for those that queue
Serving as the main hub for the country’s flag carrier, Kenya Airways, and the smaller airlines Fly540 and Jet Link Express, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Int Airport is Kenya’s largest and busiest airport.There are big plans for the JKIA, and boy does it need it. Unfortunately the talking and planning never seem to result in anything actually being done. Built to handle a fraction of the current passengers that it actually does, the airport infrastructure is woefully inadequate. It’s a regular in the top 10 of “worst” and “hated” airport listings and with travellers on the increase our advice to you is arrive early and prepare to queue.
The layout here is one terminal building operating as three “units”; 1 and 2 covering both international arrivals and departures and 3 for domestic traffic.As an international hub, there are several duty free and travel retail operators here including Diplomatic Duty Free, Kenya Duty Free, Kenyan Wine Agency, International Duty Free Complex and Beth International, so competition does exist.The choice, including perfumes, fragrances, jewellery, watches, alcohol and tobacco, are the standard offerings that you would expect, supplemented with “Buy 3 Get 1 Free” offers and discounts on Kenyan artefacts. Perfumes and fragrances that sell well here include Gucci, Bvlgari, Davidoff, Joop and Chopard with the top spirits sales going to Johnnie Walker, Amarula, Jack Daniels and Smirnoff. Presents and souvenirs top of the list? You’re spoilt for choice – necklaces, bracelets, earrings, semi-precious stones, leathergoods and wood carvings plus 18 and 22 carat gold and silver jewellery are all on offer.
There is a post office here, but no bank. Foreign exchange bureaus operate 24/7 (Gates 6 and 11) and an ATM (Gate 10). Prayer areas are available for both Christians and Muslim worship. For families with children there’s a play area and a baby/parent room and also a chemist, but we cannot confirm its opening hours.
For those feeling hungry, you can pick up a snack in all 3 units with the advantage of great strong Kenyan coffee in all. Unit 2 benefits from a licensed bar, while for something more substantial try the Simba restaurant (5th floor, central).One of the major problems here is the lack of seating, so don’t assume that any of these outlets will have available seating for you, even though you may have shopped there. If you’re early for the flight, or want to de-stress after the queues, look at retiring to one of the lounges for a while. Yes, there is a charge (approx $10 per hour), but they have good seating, wi-fi, snacks and drinks.In our opinion it’s money well spent !