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Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

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San Jose, California
posts: 16
reviews: 61
Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

Hi, we are flying into Nairobi from London at about 9 p.m. on BA and flying out to Zanzibar the next morning at 7 a.m on Precision Air. We have pretty much determined there is no compelling reason to spend the money to leave the airport overnight.

If we have to retrieve and re-check our luggage (as I doubt BA will check it through another airline for us) does this mean that we will have to get a transit visa to wander around the airport? Or is there another way to get your luggage transferred without having to go through customs and immigration? And do the ticketing counters close for the night after the last plane has left/arrived?

I got stuck once in Lima watching those guys wrap luggage in fluorescent plastic for 5 hours because the ticketing/baggage check counter for the regional airline didn't open until 2 hours before the first flight and even though we had already printed our boarding passes (and had no luggage to check), they wouldn't let us back through security until we had gotten some stamp from the ticket counter. Trying to avoid a replay of that, but would rather be ready for it if it is going to happen.

26 replies to this topic
Mtwapa, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Barcelona, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bamburi, Mtwapa
posts: 13,490
reviews: 50
11. Re: Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

Pretty sure you won't be able to do that Anna because if you are not checked through your bags will not be either, so they will only be tagged to Nairobi. You will have to check them in at Domestic to get them tagged for Mombasa

Oxford, UK
posts: 96
reviews: 2
12. Re: Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

Thanks. I thought so and in any case arranging it would probably have taken twice as long anyway.

Maryville, Tennessee
posts: 12
reviews: 16
13. Re: Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

I have a flight on Precision and then will connect with BA on another ticket. Do I have to get a Kenyan visa in order to check in to the BA flight? Or is there a BA desk in the transit area of the airport?

Mombasa, Kenya
posts: 607
14. Re: Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

AnnaRD, arranging this will be time consuming if possible at all. I tend to think the airline will not agree to doing that voluntarily as you have to clear customs at Nairobi and then connect on to a domestic flight. You can ask BA if it is possible to put a RUSH tag or SHORT TRANSIT tag, then your bags will be loaded last, thus offloaded first. This will save you time on collecting them. I am not sure if BA would be able to do it though, but it's always worth asking.

It is normal for the airline not to have any special rates when they share one ticket with a non partner airline as then payments between the airlines goes via IATA clearing house and full IATA charges are applied by a second carried (KQ) to the first carrier (BA). The rate of £2K looks like IATA full fare on the sector London - Mombasa. If you get a quote from KQ I would imagine there will be hardly any difference between London - Nairobi and London - Mombasa ticket.

Larissa

Tijara Beach Hotel

Edited: 1:10 pm, February 12, 2013
Fleet, United...
posts: 5
15. Re: Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

Hi Anna, have you travelled yet? I would love to know the outcome as I am in the same boat.. BA in 21:50 and KA out 23:05 - praying there is enough time, any advice, feedback appreciated. Many thanks, Mark

Mombasa, Kenya
posts: 607
16. Re: Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

Mark,

I think you are cutting it fine to be honest. Kenya Airways flight will be closed at 22.45 latest, sometimes they can stretch it up to 20 min before departure but by rule it is 40 min, pushing it further back to 22.25. If BA is ahead of schedule and you have no queue at immigration and your luggage comes out first and you have no customs issues, you might have a chance of making it if you race across to the domestic departure terminal (ok, it is easy to find - turn left from the exit after customs, exit the building and literally run across the road to Terminal 3, practically opposite past the car park). Also ask BA to put RUSH or SHORT TRANSIT tug for you, maybe this will help with your your luggage being loaded last, hence offloaded first. But I think there are too many ifs here. Why not make it easy for yourself and stay overnight in a hotel in Nairobi, unless it is impossible for some reason. But then again, I am more cautious type!

Good luck and hope your BA flight is early!

Larissa

Tijara Beach Hotel

San Jose, California
posts: 16
reviews: 61
17. Re: Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

To update our original inquiry (I know it's gone off on a slightly different topic) we e-mailed the Nairobi Airport Authority, and got an answer back! They said:

"Regarding your query; upon your arrival, if your luggage is not checked in to Zanzibar, you will need to report to the airlines transfer desk at gate 11 where you will find Swiss port ground handling staff to assist you to check in your luggage to the next flight. This means that you do not need to apply for a transit visa to pick your luggage or to stay overnight at the airport."

Nice! Still considering trying not to check any baggage (because a million things could still go wrong leaving us without our bags in Zanzibar), but if we can't manage it at least there we know there is supposed to be someone to assist :)

Newport, Wales...
posts: 2
18. Re: Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

I have the opposite problem, flying KQ from Mombassa to Amsterdam via Nairobi. KLM insist that I dont have to re-check my bags as I'm flying on one single ticket, however, I am concerned about the time. Arriving Nairobi 06:30, departing 8:15, got to get from domestic to international, and get through security etc. Any tips Thanks Andy

Mtwapa, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Barcelona, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bamburi, Mtwapa
posts: 13,490
reviews: 50
19. Re: Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

I've done this many times, going in this direction, with KQ / KLM, as KLM say, your bags are checked all the way through, and you get all your boarding cards, so all you have to do is walk straight out of Domestic, turn right, a couple of minutes walk, go through the scanner into the International terminal. Fill in your departure card and go through passport control / Immigration.(almost straight in front of you)

All being well you'll be through and enjoying a coffee in Java House soon after 7. You might have a couple of minutes queue at the scanners and Immigration should normally be less than 15 or 20 minutes, (I've been straight through with no queue and once I had to queue 40 minutes)

San Jose, California
posts: 16
reviews: 61
20. Re: Transfering between airlines at Nairobi airport

To update what actually happened--we had difficulty getting our bags transferred, but it happened. When approached about it, the SwissPort people first acted like it was the responsibility of the airline, and after multiple trips back and forth to the airline counters, the airport authority counter, and the SwissPort counter, they finally agreed to help us out, but acted like they were doing us a personal favor (which it may have been; I still don't know). We had plenty of time to deal with this, so we just kept going back and forth, waiting in lines, talking to people, and waiting around until it was taken care of. The bags ended up getting transferred for us from our BA flight to Precision Air and checked through the Zanzibar. We gave the guy who helped us a pretty big tip for doing it.

By the way, the Java House is really expensive and the food was not good in the middle of the night when we were there. It was a long, long night waiting for our a.m. flight. We didn't get much sleep, but it was an interesting experience nonetheless. Nairobi is not a nice airport if you are comparing it to other international airports, but by African standards it's pretty good.

And if you're coming from Nairobi to Zanzibar, be sure to have your yellow fever card ready for inspection immediately upon arrival.

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