Cape Town Airport Accessibility

Cape Town International Airport (CPT) is the second-busiest airport in South Africa (behind Johannesburg) and the third-busiest on the continent of Africa. During 2016 the airport set a new record by serving more than 10 million passengers.

South African Airways jet at O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg.
South African Airways Airbus A330 at O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg.

In advance of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, extensive construction was carried out to bring the airport up to date. Modernizations included the construction of a central terminal to connect the domestic and international terminals, creating a single check-in hall.

Airlines & Destinations

Cape Town is a hub for FlySafair, Mango and South African Express. While the latter is a partner of South African Airways, it is an independent carrier owned by the Government of South Africa.

There are currently 27 airlines operating at CPT, together serving nearly 100 non-stop destinations. A list of carriers is provided below:

Air Botswana, Air France, Airlink, Air Mauritius, Air Namibia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, British Airways operated by Comair, CemAir, Condor, Edelweiss Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Eurowings, FlySafair, Kenya Airways, KLM,, Lufthansa, Mango, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, South African Express, TAAG Angola Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Turkish Airlines

I flew to Cape Town on the South African Airways flight from Johannesburg and departed on Qatar Airways to Doha, Qatar.

Arrivals & Departures

Because I arrived to Cape Town on a domestic flight and to the domestic terminal, I cannot comment on the international arrival experience – passport control and customs – at the CPT Airport.

The domestic arrival was painless, and the process of getting off the airplane, to baggage claim and to the curb took less than 45 minutes. There was no security check upon arrival from Johannesburg.

Qatar Airways Boeing 787 at Cape Town International Airport.
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 at Cape Town International Airport.

My departure involved check-in, security and passport control. I was held up for an extended period of time at check-in, as I had to argue with Qatar Airways for the right to bring my power wheelchair. This seemed senseless, as I had already flown around the world (and then some) with Qatar Airways.

Once I had my boarding pass in hand, the security screening took less than five minutes and I was through passport control in even less time.

Wheelchair Assistance at Cape Town International Airport

Disability and wheelchair assistance services should always be requested through your airline prior to travel. Consult my list of airline wheelchair assistance contact numbers.

When I arrived in Cape Town, I was taken off the airplane in an aisle chair provided by the airport, transferred into a manual wheelchair in the jet bridge, then finally reunited with my wheelchair at baggage claim. I had protested for my wheelchair to be returned at the gate itself, but ultimately decided a protracted argument would only slow down the process.

The airplane that took me from Cape Town to Doha also had a jet bridge, but the Qatar Airways team decided to use a Passenger Aid Unit (also known as an AmbuLift or High Loader) to take me and my wheelchair from the terminal to the airplane.

Passenger Aid Units make boarding an airplane easier for wheelchair users.
Passenger Aid Units make boarding an airplane easier for wheelchair users.

PAUs like the one pictured above make boarding easier for wheelchair users. I rolled my wheelchair onto the lift at the back of the truck, which lifted me into the cabin. The PAU then drove up to my airplane and laid down a bridge for barrier-free entry between the AmbuLift and airplane cabin. I transferred from my personal wheelchair into an aisle chair while on the PAU.

After I had boarded the aircraft the PAU was repositioned in front of the airplane cargo hold, where it was used to allow for the safe loading of my power wheelchair. The ground crew did not have to lift my wheelchair (which weighs nearly 400 pounds), and the PAU helped to ensure its safe arrival to Doha.

Ground Transportation

Once you have arrived at the airport, you’ll presumably need a way to get into the city. Standard taxis are available outside the central terminal (where both international and domestic arriving passengers are sent). If you require a wheelchair taxi with a ramp, you will need to reserve one in advance.

Public transportation is also an option, with a MyCiti bus terminal only steps from the central terminal’s entrance. The A01 bus provides non-stop service to the Civic Centre bus station in downtown Cape Town. From there, connections can be made to city bus routes 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 107, 114, D01, D02, D03, D04, T01, T02 and X01.