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Posts Tagged ‘Kenya airways’

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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.

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Kenya Airways performed a minor miracle last month! On a return trip to Mombasa both flights left on time! Was this just a fluke never to be repeated?

As always I checked in online the evening before and printed my boarding pass. The reason being that I think it is less likely that will get bumped off an over booked flight if I have already checked in and hold a boarding pass……..then again this is KQ.

I got to the airport with an our to spare before my 11.30am departure. Though the JKIA domestic terminal is still it’s old worn out self security checks were a breeze (is that a good thing?) and I was at the check in counters in no time only to find there was no bag drop for passengers who have checked in online. So I queued, though not for long as I was soon¬†directed to the business class counter that was not too busy. I thought I would breeze through that until the check in agent told me I owed the airline 3000/- for changing my booking. I bit my tongue and calmly explained that I had gone to their sarit centre office and paid the penalty. He made several calls to some other desk, but the phone was’t picked up and seeing the growing frustration in me he waved me through………?

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The departure gates have gone through a much needed face lift and more importantly there is plenty of seating available. I avoided buying my favorite coffee from the dormant stand for various reasons and this will be the subject of an up coming post on this blog.

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We boarded the B737 plane smack bang on time and the plane was rolling towards the runway at exactly 11.30am. It was an exhilarating feeling to be right on schedule on a KQ flight for a big change.

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On the way there one could not help noticing the brand new terminal that is being built to provide more passenger handling capacity at this over stretched 1970s era airport. It promises extra parking space (I can’t wait) and will also separate arriving and departing passengers ( apparently a serious security issue that prevents direct flights to and from the USA). The completion date¬†is not too clear, but it won’t come to soon.

The 45 minute long flight was smooth and pleasant. We got our complementary tea and coffee and macadamia nuts. And soon descended into mombasa, bang on time.

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Moi international airport Mombasa is a small airport in comparison to JKIA, buts it’s clean, orderly and quite efficient. The luggage came quickly and I was off into town in a flash.

Three days later days I checked in online again and printed my boarding pass. I arrived 90 minutes before my flight’s scheduled departure time of 4.40pm. The security checks were again breeze……..should we be worrying about this? Check in was slow and tedious and was no different to pulling teeth. Checking in online does not save you time on KQ.

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The domestic departure lounge is large airy and functional. There is an over priced coffee shop kind of set up that is really daylight robbery, but this is the price one pays for being a ‘captive’ market. The real benefit is being able to see the few planes taxiing and taking off from Mombasa. And Ethiopian airlines did not disappoint.

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We boarded the B737 flight back to Nairobi and were in the air smack bang on time, again! My previous experiences were simply awful and to enjoy a double on time performance from KQ was unbelievable. I wonder whether this will be maintained when I fly again in a few weeks time. Any one willing to make a bet???

At some point I had to arrive in Nairobi and when we did land at JKIA it was 5.30pm. The monstrous evening rush hour traffic was in full swing and waiting. By the time I got home I could have flown to Mombasa and back in the same journey time!

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