Is Addis Ababa airport safe? A guide for safe transit and visit

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Is Addis Ababa airport safe? This is a question that we get from a new traveler to Ethiopia. It is obvious and fair to ask such a question considering the economic and political status of the country. Many travelers, especially ones with better infrastructures and services sometimes find the place to be lesser than their standards. Others, out of a biased opinion consider the airport to be unsafe and unreliable.

After studying the reviews from top travel and airport sites, we learned that Addis Ababa airport is not up to the standard that the users expect. The Addis Ababa airport, some say is Overcrowded, noisy and chaotic. It is a pity to listen to a repetitive comment about the dirty restrooms and dining areas. Getting a seat is usually a problem. If you have a plan to have a peaceful sleep, it is better to go for hotels near the airport.

The Addis Ababa airport is very safe, in any measure. It is equipped with a camera and the security system is up to standard. secured. The restaurants, duty-free shops, souvenir shops follow a standard and have good sanitation. However, many complain that there are not newspaper shops. The airport seems to have a system problem and is very chaotic, especially at night. But the new building is under construction and is expected to solve the problems that customers have.

Is Addis Ababa airport safe for an overnight layover?

Many travelers are worried about the amount of money they can carry and enter the country. The law in Ethiopia prohibits carrying more than 3000 USD and enter the country without declaring. You might not declare if you have less. If more, it is wise to do or the stuff may hustle you, and we heard bribery gossips. You may have to share the undeclared money or pay a fine. If you are on a layover, this may not concern you. Better to understand the law at your destination.

You should expect a normal lounger style seat for an overnight layover, if you are flying economy and if you don’t plan to book a hotel. The lounge is only for higher tier Sheba miles loyalty customers and business class passengers.

If your layover is long hours, the airport provides free accommodations and a transfer visa. You need to go to the transit desk on arrival request it yourself.

If you are nervous about traveling to the airport for any reason, the best way to get where you need it to ask for assistance. For international arrival, you will arrive on the first floor of terminal 2. Then you need to go to the terminal desk. Or you need to respond to stuff on the floor asking to assist you. They will advise you based on your request.

Is the Addis Ababa airport safe from an accident?

Ethiopian Airlines had three accidents and incidents. The first incident was in 1972, the plane crashed during takeoff. 35 people died, 13 injured and 48 left uninjured.  Eight years later on March 18, another place crashed while on a training flight. The most disastrous accident happened recently on March 10, 2019, when a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane crashed shortly after take-off from Bole airport, to its destination to Nairobi. All passengers, including 157 people died from the accident. The accident has been connected to the Boeing 737 MAX problem, as Lion Air flight 610 that is 737 MAX crashed.

What are the most raised issues for Addis Ababa airport?

  1. The restaurants are very expensive and the food is not sanitary. Some even complain about the first-class lounge
  2. The x-ray lines are not organized and there is chaos everywhere, especially at night.
  3. The system is bureaucratic and the stuff is not understanding
  4. Lack of professionalism and non-English speaking stuff
  5. Services in the airport do not accept card
  6. Bad WiFi, unreliable

Is it safe to transit Addis Ababa?

The violence that was observed in the last few years in Addis Ababa has been non-existent for long. The population is mixed and lives in harmony with each other. Some travelers are paranoid while transiting through the city. Some even told me that they didn’t bring much clothing since they feared they would be robbed on the streets. The media has done a good job of diminishing the images of the African countries.

Ethiopia is a safe country, especially if you are only transiting. More than 10 million passengers used the airport in 2018. However, there are some tips you need to follow while on transit in Addis Ababa.


Some of the services sometimes may not have a fixed rate. This could be hard for some people, especially for visitors, to negotiate. It is simple. You only need to know a general estimate or a reference so that you wont be ripped off. You sometimes have to demand a receipt for the things you purchase so that you make sure that you are getting a fair price.


Addis Ababa has some pickpocketing and snatching of phones or other valuables on the street. The crime is not as violent as the south Americans or South Africa. It is done with tricks and without you knowing that you are being robbed. Do not get involved in fights or arguments. That is probably a trick to get close to you and get your valuables. Never carry much money or expensive stuff while in crowded places. This helps you feel safer.

There are scams that you need to be aware of. Most pickpocketing scams are done in groups. One may run and ask you to save him from a group of people. While you kindly try to break the fight, the victim has hold of your pocket.

The most known is that one spits on you intentionally, and apologizes and wipe it off fo you. You only know what has happened long after they left.


The airline provides accommodation for transit travelers. These hotels are safe and usually have a good security system. Even though you have your own accommodation, these are safe as well.

It is generally safe to put stuff in hotels. However, even most hotels advise not to leave valuable stuff while you leave your room. Some hotels front desk has a locker that you can leave your stuff in. It is always safer to give your valuables to the front desk if they offer such service, rather than leaving it in the room while you are not around.


There are various options for a taxi in Addis Ababa. The locals use the blue and white minibus that could be unreliable and intimidating for new visitors. The buses are also unreliable, sometimes full and unsanitary and uncomfortable. The LRT system is not efficient for a while and also unreliable. The LRT is a much better option than buses. Instead, it is advisable to have a personal drive. If not, at the destination point, outside the airport, there are yellow car taxis. These are unmetered but paid based on a fixed rate that you are told before you take the taxi. If not, it is better to ask how much the rate is to your destination. This will save you from the unnecessary hustle. The blue and white taxis are not available in the airport compound. You can pick them up on the streets. Expect up to 10 USD.

The best way of travel is by using an Uber-type system. ‘Ride’ is one of them, and is popular at this time. You can install the app before getting here. Then book a taxi on your phone. You may need a sim card to call to book. Or you can book directly on the app.

Safety outside the Addis Ababa airport

The US embassy in Ethiopia advises visitors on how to keep themselves safe in the city or around the country. They advise monitoring local media for news updates, avoid crowds and keep low-profile, be vigilant of your surroundings. It is a lot of pressure, but this is necessary even out of Ethiopia. They provided assistance for American citizens. For more visit, for more travel advisory visit.

What are some of the flights from Addis Ababa?

There are flights to the UK, including from Addis Ababa to London; Addis Ababa to Manchester and Addis Ababa to Heathrow; Addis Ababa to Dublin flight.

The local flights are: Addis Ababa to Lalibela; Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar; Addis Ababa to Mekele: Addis Ababa to Harar (Dire Dewa airport is near); Addis Ababa to Simien mountains (Mekele or Axum airport are near depending on your plan); Addis Ababa to Mekele flight; Addis Ababa to Danakil depression (Samara airport); Addis Ababa to Gondar

There are flights from Addis Ababa to Toronto and from Addis Ababa to Washington.

Known flights are from Addis Ababa to Nairobi; Addis Ababa to Hargeisa; Addis Ababa to Mombasa; Addis Ababa to Lusaka; Addis Ababa to Cape Town; Addis Ababa to Johannesburg; Addis Ababa to Djibouti, Addis Ababa to Asmara. Fight from Addis Ababa to Dubai and Addis Ababa to Mumbai are also famous.

How safe is Addis Ababa airport? final remark

Addis Ababa airport is safe for transit or as a final destination. The restaurants are a bit high end for a mediocre service but you will find most of the things you need at the stores, except newspapers. The seat in the airport is scarce, as the airport is extending its service beyond capacity. This of course pissed some travelers. The new expansion project is expected to solve this problem. The food quality and the sanitation problem are raised by some. The standard issues are still a challenge in many parts of the country. Sometimes the Addis Ababa airport standard may not fulfill the international standard. The bathroom sanitation might not be as standard, considering the high number of customers the airport serves in a small space.


The airport is secured and is safe from tourist attacks. The security precautions are sometimes unnecessary and even harder than the TSA. You may have to lose some stencils that even the TSA would not take from you. You may need to takeout shoes for security check purposes.

The airport is also safe from thieves. The security cameras assist security in the airport. You have the responsibility for your belongings and yet, the airport is safe.

Most of the challenges are system issues. The staff is cooperative and hardworking, although some unethical characters are possible. To be safe in the Addis Ababa airport, always follow the rules, ask for directions if necessary and go directly to provided desks for further guidance. If you see inappropriate behavior, contact nearby stuff.

The Ethiopian airport is constructing a new expansion for an international flight. The new airport will provide, for example, a lounge that includes a spa, private lockers for bags and cafes. The lounge will be 3 times larger. Reading lamps, massage chairs, quiet corners, free internet will be part of the cloud nine or first-class travelers. We expect the future to be better.  

What was your first experience at Addis Ababa airport? Please share your experience?

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