Hello Titus (Naikuni), I hope you don’t mind me calling you Titus. I am not being fresh or cheeky, it’s just because I have been flying Kenya Airways for so many years and I always see your welcome message plus photo in every inflight magazine I cannot help, but feel that I know you.
As i said, I have been flying KQ for many years most often to Mombasa and Entebbe, but also to Joburg, London and Dar es Salaam. So I have been racking up those frequent flyer miles, always hoping to hit that free flight reward to Tahiti, well maybe not considering you don’t fly there.
Now last Friday night I had to travel to Uganda and initially was booked on the ‘red eye’ flight, this is the last one of the day and arrives in Entebbe at 11.20pm! Hence the red eyes. It cost $371 return, for a 45 minute flight! My attempt to change this to the 5.50pm flight would have attracted a $150 Penalty, so I stuck to the red eye. I dutifully checked in online in my office because I have the belief that if I do so then I can get to the airport much later and won’t have to queue as I only have to drop my bags. Correct me if I am wrong, Titus, I believe that I am less likely to get bumped off a flight if I already have a boarding pass, this may not be entirely true and I wring my hands in anticipation of such an event.
Now my flight departure time was scheduled for 10.05pm and expected arrival in Entebbe at 11.20pm. Now for the uninitiated, this flight duration of 75 minutes does not make sense. KQ use an all jet fleet to service it’s Entebbe route and these take only 45-50 minutes to get there, there are no stops in between. So the real arrival time should be 10.50pm. Titus you have to agree with me on this, surely.
I arrived at the airport at 8.50pm with my boarding pass in hand and a small suitcase and a clear 45 minutes before the boarding gate was to close and 75 minutes before the flight was to depart. I headed for the baggage drop counter, as I had already check in online and found it in manned. What was even more unsurprising was the one next to it was a Sky Priority baggage drop and it was clogged with passengers who had not checked in online! I joined the queue, number 5 in line and watched the clock as it counted down to the gate closure at 9.35pm.
Titus, finally fed up with the delays I complained a supervisor looking lady and ranted about checking in online and all that rot. She moved from that sky priority baggage drop queue, skipped another regular queue and told me to wait at a third queue, this time a business class one that only had one fellow getting sorted put. Things didn’t get any faster as I thought it would because after clearing the aforementioned fellow, the check in staff told me to wait as they tinkered about with the computer. Another 15 minutes went by and now it was 9.30pm and I was seething. Fortunately the gentleman standing beside me asked what the matter was and I again ranted and raved about how 8 times out of 10 checking in online make no difference, you just do it to be busy. He could tell I was about to cause a scene and he stepped put o the desk and had a word with the lady there…….it turned out he works for KQ.
Suddenly I was ushered to the desk, baggage tagged, dumped and I was on my way……actually sprinting because it was now 8.40pm and the departure gate should have actually closed by then. Mercifully it wasn’t and by 10.05pm all passengers were on board the flight and we were likely to have another miraculous on time departure, if only pigs can fly. Then we sat quietly for the next half an hour and all that was happening was that the flight attendants kept walking up and down, checking and rechecking seat belts. It was a very strange sensation, the silence was eerie, there were no late arriving passengers, no luggage being loaded, nothing we just sat and waited.
Then at 10.30pm, on the dot, we were on our way, resulting in an arrival time of exactly 11.20pm! We were late to depart, but right on time to arrive at Entebbe. I beg to ask the question: what really is the departure time for this flight! I don’t think leaving at 10.30pm was really a delay.
Titus, you are always on TV telling us how you and KQ are reaching for the stars, but how can you do that when you can’t even grabbed the ripe mango in the tree, or handle online check passengers, both are alot easier than reaching for the stars you love to talk about. Is it too much to ask to sort out basic service issues before you charge what you do for a 45 minute flight! It. Ant be that hard, surely.