For those living in the United States, a vacation to Africa may seem like an impossible dream, not least because of the arduous flights required to get there. The vast majority of routes involve a lengthy layover in Europe or the Middle East – and if you're headed to a more remote location in the east or south of the continent, you're likely to have a second stop at an African hub like Addis Ababa or Johannesburg.
However, several airlines do offer direct flights from the east coast of the United States to a number of African destinations. They are usually more expensive than indirect flights, but if spending as little time as possible in the air is a priority, they could be just the lifesaver you're looking for. As of May 2019, airlines flying direct to Africa include Delta, South African Airways, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Kenya Airways and Cabo Verde Airlines.
Note: Please be aware that schedules are always changing and the following times should be taken as guidelines only.
Direct Flights From the USA to West Africa
Delta Airlines flies direct to several West African destinations. There are non-stop flights from Atlanta (ATL) and New York (JFK) to Lagos (LOS), Nigeria's largest city. The Atlanta flight runs four days a week, leaves at 22:40 and arrives in Lagos at 14:50 the next day (a flight time of approximately 11 hours). The New York flight runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It leaves at 22:33 and arrives at 14:00 the next day.
Those living in New York can also fly non-stop with Delta to Dakar (DSS) in Senegal or Accra (ACC) in Ghana. The Dakar flight leaves on Tuesdays and Saturdays and takes just over eight hours. It departs at 19:50, arriving the next day at 07:55 local time. The Accra flight runs five days a week, leaves New York at 23:19 and arrives at 13:35 the following day. It takes just over 10 hours.
South African Airways also has a daily direct flight from Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Accra (ACC). The flight leaves Washington at 17:40 and takes approximately 10.5 hours to reach Ghana, arriving in Accra at 08:10 the following day.
In 2018, Ethiopian Airlines added three flights a week from New Jersey (EWR) to Abidjan (ABJ) in Cote d'Ivoire. The flights depart at 01:30 and arrive at 15:15 the same day, taking approximately 9 hours and 45 minutes.
Finally, Cabo Verde Airlines, the national airline of Cape Verde, offers direct flights from Boston (BOS) to Praia (RAI) on Fridays. The airline's website also says that it is due to add a second service from Washington D.C. to Praia later in 2019.
Direct Flights From the USA to North Africa
EgyptAir operates a daily flight from New York (JFK) to Cairo (CAI). The flight departs New York at 18:30 and arrives in Cairo at 11:10 the following day, giving a total flight time of around 10.5 hours. The return flight departs Cairo at 09:20 and arrives back in New York on the same day at 15:15. This flight is slightly longer at almost 12 hours.
Royal Air Maroc offers one direct flight a day from New York (JFK) to Casablanca (CMN). It leaves at 20:55 and arrives at 07:45 the next day, taking approximately seven hours. The airline also offers a direct flight from Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Casablanca (CMN). This flight leaves at 22:00 and arrives one day later at 10:20 – a total travel time of almost 7.5 hours.
Direct Flights From the USA to Southern Africa
South African Airways fly direct to Johannesburg (JHB) from New York (JFK). The daily flight leaves New York at 11:15 and arrives at 08:05 the following day, taking almost 15 hours in total.
Delta Airlines flies direct from Atlanta (ATL) to Johannesburg (JHB). The flight departs from Atlanta daily at 20:00 and arrives in South Africa approximately 15.5 hours later at 17:35 local time. Return flights leave Johannesburg in the evening and arrive in Atlanta early the following morning.
Direct Flights from the USA to East Africa
In 2018, Kenya Airways became the first airline to offer a non-stop flight between the USA and East Africa. Kenya's national carrier offers a direct daily flight between New York (JFK) and Nairobi (NBO), leaving at 12:55 local time and arriving at 10:25 the following day. It takes 14.5 hours.
Direct Flights From the USA to the Horn of Africa
This article was updated and re-written in part by Jessica Macdonald on May 7th 2019.