FLYING INTO TUNISIA


The Tunis airport is quite small, very smoky but easy to get around. Despite this, it can be stressful your first time through. Here are a few tips related to your arrival.

1. On the plane they will hand out a "Carte d'Embarquement" to fill out. You'll need it at the airport checkpoint. They are usually in French and Arabic, but are quite straightforward. You will need to write in your name, maiden name, passport number, coming from/ going to, and your address.

2. When you get off the plane, you'll take a long walk down a hallway, and down some stairs into the immigration checkpoint. If you have a diplomatic passport, you may enter the line that is all the way to your left (there is a sign pointing this out). At the desk, you hand the customs officer your passport and the Carte d'Embarquement. Usually there should be no hassle. "Visiting family" or "visiting the school" are good responses if asked what is your intention. You will get back the second part of the card as your temporary documentation.

3. Right after the immigration checkpoint there's a security checkpoint.

4. After the security checkpoint, you walk into the baggage carousel area. There is a television showing the flight number and the carousel associated with it. Free carts can be found to your right. A duty free store can be found to your left. Because quality "hard" liquor is almost impossible to find in Tunisia (and at great expense), it is highly recommended you purchase your allowance of two bottles per person upon arriving in the country. Local wines can be purchased at Carrefour and Monoprix, but you will need a passport to purchase any alcohol on Fridays.

5. If your baggage did not arrive, you can find the baggage claim at the other end of the hall. You will be required to give your baggage number (that can normally be found on your used ticket), your baggage description, and a phone number so they can contact you. Your luggage will usually arrive on the next plane from the city that you just left. It is recommended to pick up your luggage as soon as it arrives and not leave it overnight at the airport, however, if it has not arrived on the expected flight, you will be required to go to the airport on a daily basis to look for it. They will not deliver your luggage.

6. After picking up your baggage, you walk through the customs area under the "nothing to declare" assuming you have nothing to declare. If they do ask you to stop, make sure they understand that all of your affairs are only for personal use.

7. You have arrived at the exit, and it is best to turn to the left, as there are less people on this side.

If you are on your own, here are some tips:

  • Finding an ATM:
o Across from the toilet doors, go towards the exits, then stay left past a cafe into the long aisle of rental cars.
o It's about 50 feet to the first ATM, on the right wall, another 50 feet to a second ATM.
o There is an ATM on the school campus if your need for cash is not immediate.

  • Declaring Money:
o It is not a good idea to bring in a lot of cash, as you will be asked to declare it. One teacher recommends Taveler's Checks if you need to bring in a lot of money or just use your ATM card.

  • Exchanging foreign currency into dinars:
o As you come through exit area, go straight ahead toward the exit doors. Just to the right of the exit should be two bank counters with columns of red numbers inside showing the exchange rates. Save your receipt so that you can change dinars into foreign currency when you leave.

  • Finding cafes:
o From the exit area, follow the right wall to the corner, go around it and there's a cafe called: Sandwich Air. They offer drinks, coffee and a small selection of sandwiches.
o As you come out into the exit area, turn left, and follow the left wall past the phones and toilets to a cafe with coffee, tea, and pastries.
o Upstairs (Elevator for luggage cart) at the departure floor, you can find the Cafe Ritazza, that offers a larger selection of sandwiches and drinks.

  • Taxis:
o Go out the main exits, bear to your left and you will see the yellow taxis towards your left. Be prepared to speak some French if your Tunisian is non-existent! "Lécole Américaine" is the best way to address the cabbie for your journey to ACST. They should know roughly where it is and if not, tell them "L'aouina", as taxis do not go by addresses. They go by landmarks alone.
o It is best to accept offers only from drivers that are in their cars, as you may receive expensive offers from people on the sidewalk.
o The yellow taxis are the usual Tunisian taxis, they take up to three people but the fourth must be under 10 years old, and, seeing the cars are smaller, offer a limited amount of luggage space. The starting price for entering a taxi is (in 2013) 400 milles. and the price increases by 50% after 9pm.
o You may ask for the meter to be restarted if you see the price any higher than what is expected.
o If you are traveling to the American Cooperative School, the rate should be around 5 dinars during the daytime. Tipping is not common in Tunisia, but it is a nice gesture each time a taxi driver is cordial and serves your travel needs well. Rounding up the fare is typical.

--Be aware that some negotiations may be involved in taxi rides from the airport. The drivers often wait many hours to try and get a high-paying tourist. Most times taxi drivers at the airport will ask to 15-30 dinars to go to some place like Carthage or La Marsa. Negotiate. A clever work around for this issue is to walk upstairs when you arrive and catch a taxi that has just left off someone in the arrivals area. The taxi driver will just charge you with the meter. (-: