ON ARRIVAL AT ALL EGYPTIAN AIRPORTS
Landing Cards. Before you go through passport control you will need to have your landing card (sometimes but not always given to you on the plane) filled out. If you have not got it on the plane….head straight for any Travel Agent Rep you see gathering his group around him and ask him to show you where the Landing Cards are. People who are unaware of this sometimes join the queues at the passport control only to find when they get there they have to go find these cards, fill them out and re-join the queue at the end! ….frustrating!
Entry Visa. If you have checked with your local Egyptian Embassy and decided you can buy your entry visa on arrival at the airport then as soon as you get off the bus in the Arrivals Hall go directly to the small kiosk marked BANK. This is where you buy your entry visa. Make sure you have brought some notes in all denominations of either US Dollar, Euro or Sterling because you have to pay for your visa with foreign currency. The entry visa requires no forms filling – it is just a sticker you post onto a page in your passport. You might want to change about $50 into Egyptian Pounds (LE) here also so you have money for taxi etc.
Passport Control. Now you have your Passport, Landing Card and Entry Visa you join one of the queues at Passport Control. Some hotels and travel agents will have their representative meet you in this hall to help you through this chaos – only some have clearance to enter here. Sometimes you see on travel forums people getting upset and angry that it costs them a little more if the Rep buys their entry visa than if they buy it themselves. Don’t get upset, get used to it – the tourism industry is tough in Egypt and everyone is competing on price (which I think is not good for the country or the industry) so (almost)everyone you meet who does anything for you is expected to make their own money from you because their pay is not budgeted into the cost charged to you by whoever sold you whatever, above them in the food chain (explained with a wry smile!)
Arrival – After you pick up your luggage you will be approached by taxi drivers on your way to the exit door. It is best if you make a deal either inside or outside the exit door because outside it is just one really big car-park and you will not find a taxi out there! Normal price to central Cairo is 80 LE – unlikely to find one who will give you a metered ride from the airport.
Departure – if you are staying far from the airport it is a good idea to give yourself one to two hours before your check-in time to get to the airport……traffic can be horrendous on the airport road especially at rush hour and up to about 9pm. Make sure you have a pen on you to fill out your exit card….you would be surprised how many people are looking for pens when they are given these card to complete! White taxi to the airport from Downtown Cairo with the meter on is only 35 LE + 5LE for the entry ticket – you should give him a tip also – he is probably going to be empty going back to town.
However, if you want to be sure of not missing your flight it might be advisable to book your drive back to the airport with a travel agent or transport company. Earlier 2013 I missed my flight to Luxor even though I left my apt 2 and half hours before departure time. The taxi-driver got lost around the airport because much of the road system is one-way traffic. I had pointed out to him where to turn into the airport but he thought he knew a better way! After all his passenger was just a tourist!. At one stage of the journey after he got lost I saw a sign for Port Said – that’s when I knew we were truly lost. I arrived at the airport exactly 10 minutes before departure time. Did I pay the taxi? Are you joking? I could have killed him! But it was a lesson well learned and it all worked out o.k. in the end because Egypt Air just put me on the next flight – no charge. Then I was sorry for not having paid the poor old taxi driver! Somehow I don’t think he’ll take a fare to the airport again in the near future……here’s another thing – Egyptians hate saying “No”and “I don’t know”….so beware!
LUXOR AIRPORT EARLY MORNING OR LATE NIGHT ARRIVAL
It is best that you pre-book your airport transfer to your hotel if you are arriving late night or early morning. You could arrive and find no taxis or find that there are so few there that they are charging a higher price or you have to share the taxi with others. If you are not staying at Mara House you can book a taxi or call me on +2 01007571855 to book one of my regular taxi drivers who will charge 60 – 80 Le depending on which hotel or area in Luxor you are transferring to.
Unfortunately this happens too often and if it happens you – here are some tips on what to do about getting your lost luggage back.
BOOKING FLIGHTS ONLINE
By the way (not just in Egypt) I recently found out to my cost that when you book a flight online you need to keep an eye on the fine print as to how long it will be before your reservation is automatically cancelled by the airline if they have not issued your e-ticket (your reservation confirmation is no guarantee of a ticket). KLM did not complete an online booking I made for a flight from Egypt to Ireland, they didn’t tell me – they didn’t have to. About a week later when I realised I had not received the Online Ticket as usual – I checked with them. I fought with them. I lost the battle and ended up paying 1000 LE extra for the same flight.