Kudos Kenya Airways!
My first ever flying experience was on Kenya Airways. I was all of twenty-three years old, and was travelling with my three-year-old daughter! We made a stop in Athens. I had expected a non-stop flight to London Heathrow, and was not really prepared. It may have been to pick up additional passengers. I had not paid attention to the number of passengers on board. Afterwards, I thought they should at least have re-stocked the essentials such as water. All the way from Athens to London there was no water to flush the toilets – and I was sitting right next to them with a three-year-old! After that thoroughly unpleasant experience, I tried to stay away from KQ.
In 2002, I had to choose between Kenya Airways, Egypt Air, and Ethiopian Airlines. I chose the devil I knew. It was a short flight so there were no meals. But whatever they may have had in terms of snacks and refreshment was so inadequate, it felt as if passengers were queuing in the air – and I was not even interested in snacks! I had another opportunity to fly Kenya Airways, the pride of Africa, in July 2016, simply because my sponsor made the reservations. It turned out I was sampling the new route Nairobi-Livingstone-Cape Town. First, there was the inconvenience of having to take a bus to the aircraft. At four o’clock in the morning, the temperatures were below ten degrees Celsius! Maybe they were just preparing those of us headed south for the winter – without notice! Even the air conditioning had been set at such a low figure, I could hear passengers in front of me, and behind me, sneezing. Fortunately, I was travelling with hand luggage only, so I was able to pull my winter jacket and a shawl from my bag. I remember thinking, “Why I’m I not surprised. This, after all, is Kenya Airways, the pride of Africa?!”
Then the pleasant surprises came in quick succession. The first one was seeing the notices on the back of the seats. The notices appeared in Kiswahili and English. The second pleasant surprise came floating over the speakers: announcements were made in Kiswahili: good, standard Kiswahili; then in English. This was quite refreshing, after those two other experiences. I wanted to stand up and applaud. Then there was the on-board service. Breakfast was served between Nairobi and Livingstone. Lunch was served between Livingstone and Cape Town. There was enough for all. There was also a wide variety of drinks to choose from. I even got myself a cup of hot water – served with a smile and without delay!
Haki tumetoka mbali! Truly we have come a long way! Hongera Kenya Airways!
© Katheu Mbithi. 2018.