Lilongwe International Airport

Locally known as Kamuzu Airport, Lilongwe International in Malawi has a single runway and terminal, making for few flight options. Most travelers opt to connect in Johannesburg on South African Airways. Four other carriers in operation include: Air Botswana with flights from Gaborone, Air Malawi with connections from Blantyre, Harare, Dar es Salaam, Lusaka, and Johannesburg, Kenya Airways from Lusaka and Nairobi and Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa and Lubumbashi.

Lilongwe’s airport is located about 12 miles from the city center, with onward transportation provided by taxi, local bus or rental car. Avis and several other international vehicle firms are available at arrivals. Facilities include a bank, currency exchange, bar and restaurant, post office and several duty-free stores for international travelers. US passengers should note they are subject to a $30 departure tax when leaving the country. The terminal is small and quiet, the staff is friendly and the usual security paranoia is conspicuously missing which makes for stress-free travel. The entire experience bears no resemblance to the nightmare offered by busy airports in the West.

Blantyre International Airport

Blantyre Airport, also known as Chikela International, is located nine miles from Malawi’s largest city. The small facility serves three airlines: Air Botswana, Air Malawi and South African Airways, with flights to and from Gaborone, Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, and Lusaka. The only domestic flight is to Lilongwe on national carrier, Air Malawi, which has its hub in the complex. Onward transportation is by bus or taxi and car rental is available, as is a cafe and bar. Again, US travelers on international flights must pay a $30 departure tax, and the airport experience is even more rustic than at Lilongwe.

Mzuzu and Kalonga Airports

If you’re short on time, both Mzuzu and Kalonga Airports are linked via Air Malawi with domestic connections from Lilongwe. The airport experience at both is typically African and laid-back, with basic services and friendly staff. For nervous flyers, Air Malawi is affectionately know as "Air Where Are We?," but they have an excellent safety record for an African airline, despite the UN’s inclusion on  the "don’t fly" list.