Kilimanjaro airport (code: JRO) is by far the most convenient place to land for climbing Kilimanjaro. The airport is about a 45 minute drive from Moshi where nearly all guides have their guests stay immediately before and after the trek. Because of this, it is highly likely that most of the people on the plane will be fellow trekkers preparing for their own journey up Kilimanjaro. The airport is small but functional and generally does not have multiple planes landing simultaneously, so the crowds you encounter are likely from your own plane. However, with the relatively limited number of flights flying into JRO, the planes are quite large and house a lot of people.
KLM has the preferred route
There are no direct flights from the United States of United Kingdom into Kilimanjaro airport, so you will have a layover somewhere along your journey. The most common (and generally easiest and most affordable) is to fly into Amsterdam, then take a direct flight to JRO on KLM Airlines. The KLM flight departs from Amsterdam every day at 10:00am and arrives at 8:30pm on the same day. Because KLM is a large, respected international airline that takes this flight everyday, it is very rare that they lose or delay luggage at JRO.
Other potential routes
There are several ways to get from the United States, United Kingdom and other European countries into the larger cities of Nairobi (in Kenya) or Addis Ababa (in Ethiopia). From these large cities, it is quite easy to catch a commuter flight into the Kilimanjaro airport. Commuter flights are generally through Kenyan Airways, Ethiopian Airways or Precision Air. However, you should note that sometimes the layovers can be quite long. Importantly, if you step out of the airport (perhaps to see the city while you await your next flight), you may be subject to requiring proof of immunity to Yellow Fever ((LINK)). Unless you already have this document in hand, we don’t recommend leaving the airport for a layover.
There have also been reports of lost, stolen or delayed luggage on these smaller commuter flights, which can cause large issues for trekkers who must depart with their group on the assigned day.
Traveling through Doha, Qatar
There is an international flight by Qatar that leaves Doha, Qatar and arrives at Kilimanjaro airport. This tends to be a good option for people living in the Middle East, India and Eastern Europe. However for those in the United States and United Kingdom, it can make the extra geographic distance quite long and extend your already lengthy flight time.
Traveling through Istanbul
Turkish Airlines now flies direct flights from Istanbul to the Kilimanjaro airport, which is convenient for people who live in Europe or the Middle East. However, the flight lands at 02:00 am in the morning, which is quite inconvenient for you and for your guiding company to provide a ride to Moshi after you land. Also, if you plan to take the same route back, the flight departs the Kilimanjaro airport at 03:00am towards Istanbul, which offers the same level of inconvenience. The flights do tend to be less expensive, however the extra day(s) of hotel will likely offset the flight savings. And we do not recommend a plan that entails landing at 02:00am and has you hiking that day. An extra day of buffer time is highly recommended for gear checks, paperwork and getting adjusted to the new time zone. Most reputable guiding companies require that extra day to avoid inevitable mishaps.