Flight Delay

Reads: 354  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
A delay on a simple flight, and a night in a hotel.

Submitted: June 21, 2019

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 21, 2019

A A A

A A A


Most of us are pretty happy with our isolation here down under, but it does have its drawbacks, for one, it makes it a bit more difficult for travellers to get to places like Africa. Because of South Africa’s political regime, for a while they weren’t in most counties’ good books, so our first trip to Tanzania was a roundabout one involving thirty six hours flying time. We needed catch a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro because KLM was the only international airline that flew into Kilimanjaro at the time. There were concerns about the poor safety standards at the airport. We were told it was an insurance issue, but on the other hand KLM also ferried cut flowers back to Amsterdam which was a huge business opportunity for them and worth fostering. Anyway… over the years, I’ve been asked by the odd curious soul, what in my opinion defines Africa.

Well actually, I’m no authority, for a start New Zealanders associate South Africa as being the whole of Africa because of our relationship with them over rugby. I tell them that I’ve only scratched the surface, and Africa is a mighty big continent! And it’s diverse; there are animals that can eat you, reptiles that can poison you, diseases that can finish you, there are migrations, trees that fascinate, awesome landforms, languages that confound you, riches and poverty but the one thing that defines Africa for me is its peoples. The reason I say that is because of a trip I made with Asifiwe back to Kilimanjaro.

We were leaving from Heathrow and flying on Ethiopia Airlines. Heathrow is like any other large airport where there are strict formalities and at check-in, most travellers are a little on edge. But step into the queue of Ethiopia Airlines, and you are already in Africa! There’s a vibrancy, the language is different, there was no urgency, the organisation is casual and more people seemed to be smiling. All of which sent me straight back me to another time and another flight! 1996 travelling from Harare to Kilimanjaro.

Even before the advent of modern terrorism, there was a sign at Harare airport that said even talking about firearms could see you being arrested! And as airports go, I wouldn’t say Harare was the friendliest of airports – but in truth, I could say the same thing about Los Angeles! We were booked to fly out at about 8:00am on Air Tanzania and were be picked up by Mo and Jo at 1:30pm at Kilimanjaro airport. Sounds simple enough, but on booking in, we were told that there would be a delay of one hour. We had no way of communicating with Mo and Jo, so we found a seat to while away the hour.

A small blackboard appeared at the Air Tanzania’s desk saying that our flight was delayed for another hour, so to fill in some time, I strolled up to the desk. They had no news, and had no idea what the reason was for the delay. I’d already had some experience with this at Nairobi, and found that it’s best to be patient. When the extra hour was up, another message appeared on the blackboard: a further delay, but passengers were invited to collect a chit that allowed us a free cup of tea, but nothing to eat. The biting stomach worm weren’t to know we’d used all of our Zimbabwe dollars and didn’t want to cash other money in case we were called at a moment’s notice, so we remained hungry.

We weren’t called until 4:15 pm, and were surprised to find we were aboard an Air Malawi aircraft! Despite the Air Tanzania ground people denying knowledge of the reason for the delay, the Air Malawi crew had been warned a week in advance! Apparently Air Tanzania had just two operable planes, and they needed to take one out of service… for servicing! So in advance had booked the Air Malawi plane. A few of our Air Tanzania flights had been casual affairs with the seat number on the boarding pass meaning nothing. Once aboard, it was a free for all! The Air Malawi flight was orderly and fine but we didn’t go to Kilimanjaro, instead we landed at Dar es Salaam arriving at 9:30pm.

All of the passengers were escorted to a corner of the airport where our boarding passes were checked and we were told that we would be put up in a local hotel for the night… after they had arranged a bus for us. At least we had some Tanzania shillings, so we could buy something to eat! After an hour or so, the bus arrived and we were escorted down to it. It’s the same everywhere, whenever you’re on a bus trip, there’s always someone who holds everyone else up, and sure enough there was one this time! The rest of us were getting a little scratchy by this time, and I’m not sure the bus driver knew where to go, because it took him a long time to find the ‘local’ hotel.

There was another check of our boarding passes in the hotel foyer until finally, we were given a key and a room number. We were told that breakfast would be at 7:00 am and the bus would depart for the airport at 8:00 am. On the dot. Tucked up in bed by 2:00 am was nice, but sleep doesn’t come easily after an eventful day… sharp knocking on our door shook us awake  an hour later! They wanted to check our boarding pass again because they suspected someone without a pass had dossed down in one of the rooms! We think we might have slept some more, until… TA-DAA! There was a mosque next door and their 5:30 am call to prayer blasted into our room by way of a loudspeaker that sounded as if it was pointed directly at our window! We deemed it not worthwhile going back to sleep!

As instructed, we were first on the bus at 8:00am and alone… but there was entertainment… of sorts. Bongo flava dance on a TV screen! Skilled and vigorous maybe, but hardly our cup of tea! And the volume was full on! At that hour and after what had happened, perhaps some baroque music might have soothed the soul but I’m afraid bongo flava didn’t quite cut the mustard! We suffered through the music for half an hour while the bus began to fill up, and sure enough, the same guy kept us all waiting for that little bit extra. Happily the Air Tanzania plane had been serviced and was ready and waiting for us! Soon, we were back to the familiar routine – a free for all to find our seats!

Just under two hours later, back at Kilimanjaro, Mo and Jo were there to pick us up, we expected another shuttle ride to Arusha, but luckily they had been following our path courtesy of the helpful folk in the Air Tanzania office. By the time we reached The Agency office, after the telling, we could see the funny side of our experience. After all, you have to experience the rough to really appreciate the smooth!


© Copyright 2020 moa rider. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply