When you fly through Cairo and your flight leaves the day after you arrive, EgyptAir generously puts you in a hotel. Some forums suggest that those staying 24 hours or more may tour the pyramids, but I cannot confirm this.
Helping your luggage to arrive at its destination
When I checked in my suitcase at the beginning of my flight, the woman at the check-in counter suggested that I should check my bag in all the way to Cairo and pick it up there. With what happened later, I believe that it would have been less risky for me to check it in all the way to my destination and have it ready to go on board the plane the next day. I could have had a lock on my luggage, and I believe that the baggage team in the Cairo airport is honest enough to leave my bag alone until it got on the flight the next day. You may trust them less, and if you do, be sure to keep your baggage claim ticket in a place where you can find it quickly.
When you get off your airplane and into the hallway, follow the baggage claim signs. As you do, you will pass a desk with the sign “Transit” on it.
If you have luggage to pick up, walk past this sign and take the escalator downstairs to claim your luggage. But don’t follow the crowd out into the arrival area via the customs check. Instead, take the elevator and go back upstairs to the transit desk. Otherwise, your luggage may be left behind in Egypt, and take 2-10 days to catch up with you at your destination.
What to do if your baggage is missing in Cairo
If your luggage is missing, quickly bring your baggage claim ticket to the baggage claim office marked Star Alliance. The sooner you can get there before the other customers, the quicker you will be served. If you are behind a large crowd in the Cairo Airport, go to the middle of it and push forward. If you stand on the side to push forward, you are more likely to be the last person assisted.
The “Transit Passengers” desk
Back at the transit desk, they will ask you for your passport and your next boarding pass, and will ask you to take a seat in the chairs facing the television. Most of the people sitting in these chairs are either overnighting at the airport or receiving the benefit of a complementary stay at a hotel with meals. You do not need to sit in a place where the transit office can see you. Once they are ready for you, you will know it.
While you wait for your name to be called, you should know that there is no internet access in the Cairo airport, except for those who have an “Orange” network SIM card.
Once they have acquired about two dozen or so transit passengers and have prepared your paperwork, they will start calling out their names. This is where you should begin to pay attention. Join the group of those standing in front of the Transit office desk, and let them know when your name has been called.
Your Hotel and Meal Voucher
The airport officials will give you a hotel and meal voucher (the white piece of paper); they also provide a yellow sheet of paper to help you recuperate your passport and ticket in the morning. Then a transit agent will lead your group out through customs to pick up your bus to the hotel. You will either be staying at the Novotel or Le Passage Hotel; I stayed at Le Passage, and the dinner buffet was amazing! Both places have beautiful rooms comparable to what you would find in America or Europe. There is a “bar” in the room (aka a refrigerator with some drinks in it). If you take anything from the refrigerator or make a phone call, you have to pay for it.
Get to the buffet as soon as you can. If you wish to use the hot tub or the swimming pool, try to do so after supper as there will probably be no time to do this on the day you leave.
If you get separated from the group (as I did), you could easily take a taxi or one of the airport buses to your hotel. A taxi should cost no more than US$10 or 9 Euro; the bus will get you there for free. Before choosing a taxi, agree on a price so that there are no unpleasant surprises in the end.
On the Road Again
The next morning, you receive an automated wake-up call and have 45 minutes to get downstairs and check out from the lobby. A shuttle bus takes you to the airport. When you get there, here are the things you have to do:
- Recuperate your passport and boarding pass (using the yellow sheet of paper)
- Go through customs; pass your luggage through the x-ray machine
- If you have luggage to check in, go to the check-in counter for your flight. Otherwise, use one of the electronic check-in machines.
- Head straight for the passport checking counter, where they will stamp your passport.
- If you have time for some duty-free shopping, go ahead and do so.
- Proceed to your gate. Your luggage will probably have to pass through an x-ray machine once more, and you through a metal detector.
- Take the bus to your plane when it arrives.
If you are traveling by EgyptAir and will be staying overnight, you may want to print these instructions and have them with you as you travel. If anything goes differently for you than it did for me, please let us know by leaving a comment below.