The other day I was flying around Africa and I was pretty pissed off to begin with.
I was angry because I’d gotten arrested in Douala(but that’s a story for another day) and when I was finally leaving Douala, it was raining. Apparently, the guys who designed the airport there didn’t think that they needed to worry about weather because the long walkways to the terminals have no windows. I’m sure someone must have told the architect “Dude, what if it rains? No windows means the place will flood!” And he just looked back at the guy and said…
Anyhow, after wading through about 4 inches of water on a slippery stone floor, sliding like a retard on skates, I finally get to my gate and go through the flimsiest security check ever. I’ve been doing this thing where I carry at least 3 items you shouldn’t have on a plane. Normally it’s a spray can, a lighter and a penknife
or drugs and then act like I forgot them if they get found. And normally, they do. But this time I managed to get in with all three, looking back at the security guy chatting up the lady in the nearby shop with judgemental eyes.
So I sit down, 45 minutes to take off which means we should be boarding in the next 5-10 minutes. I look outside the slits in the wall (no windows) and I can’t see a plane. But everyone is just kinda sitting there like everything is OK. So I get up and ask the lady at the counter:
“Excuse me, ma’am. Will the flight be on time?”
She ignores me. I lean in closer and repeat the question. She ignores again, still talking to her coworker about some hilarity on TV the night before. And while I was sure it was hilarious and worth a chat, I didn’t know if now was the time they should be having that chat. So after another pause, I asked again. She turn to me and snapped: “If there was a plane here, you would see it.” Eye roll and all.
Her friend was a bit more cordial and said “Yes, the flight is on time. It’s landing now.”
To which I said “Thank you. But doesn’t that mean they need to refuel and clean the plane for an hour?”
She said not to worry, we’d be on time. I explained that I had a connecting flight in Addis to Nairobi and she told me to chill out and I said OK as I started thinking of ways to waste time.
So the flight was late by about 3 hours.
I spent this time walking back and forth through the security checks (smoking in the airport, mind you) until finally my lighter was confiscated when one of the security guys realized “Hey, how does this guy keep lighting up cigarettes?”. I kept the knife and aerosol can
Anyway, when the plane finally got there 3 hours late, I walked up to Rolly-Eyes and her liar friend and told them about my connecting flight again. As soon as I mentioned it, about 30 people rallied behind me complaining as well. Rolly-Eyes just walked off like “If you want to board the plane, it’s now boarding.” and then sucked her teeth and clicked her tongue in such a way that I was sure she could beatbox better than Doug E. Fresh if she really applied herself.
I’d love to tell you about how horrible the flight was. Or about the racist guy who was sitting next to me that kept telling his four-fingered father about how if the plane crashed, black people can’t be trusted to help him evacuate(and that’s four fingers on both hands, by the way). I’d even love to tell you about how we made a random stop in Equatorial Guinea for an hour even though we were 3 hours behind schedule. But let me tell you instead about what happened when we landed.
We landed at 11:10PM and the last flight to Nairobi leaves at 11:15PM. So I asked one of the hostesses if I could make the connection she says (and this is not a joke) “Of course, the flight is obviously late.” as if that was a company policy.
So I ran out, bags in tow, hoping to make my connection and go home. Alas, this would not happen. I found a lady at a desk that said “Transit” or something like that and asked her where my gate was and she goes “Oh, you missed your flight. Talk to that lady” pointing to another lady sitting at a desk with her friend. This broad I’d been referred to was chilled out, leaning back in her chair, spouting unintelligible words to her friend. So I walked up, exhausted, with my shoes still making a squishy sound from my swim in Douala, and asked very nicely if my flight had left.
Nail-File tells me “I don’t know.” So I explain my situation and she stops me and says “Wait!” and then continues her story. I’m thinking “This nigga here must not know who the Hell I am!”
So I tell her “If you don’t know, find out.” She just grunts angrily, stands up and chimes some shit to her coworker before waltzing off. So I look at her coworker and she can see my rage. Like I’m starting to think crazy things like “Maybe I should just jump over this counter and body slam a girl to prove a point.”
But I stop heaving and remain calm and ask her “Lady, check the status on my flight now. Please.” as I twitch like a psycho, randomly clenching the side of the counter like I was about to pick it up and hurl it through a window. She checks and says “Oh, the gates just closed 2 minutes ago. We’ll check you into a hotel. Please see that lady.” She says, pointing me to the lady who had pointed me to her friend, Nail-File.
Remember the crowd I told you about earlier that rallied behind me in Douala? Suddenly, they all sprout from nowhere, and it looks like they either got friends or reproduced quickly. I mean, now there are 60+ people just standing around this one lady screaming random destinations. Meanwhile, the lady who pointed me there, walks off to join Nail-File in hiding. So I’m just left there looking at this other girl thinking “I’m going to die here.”
So I join the crowd fighting for hotel rooms and I’m in the last group of people to get hotels. The racist guy with the four-fingered father actually said “We don’t want a hotel with him.” pointing dead at my forehead. I don’t think they knew they were in Africa. Even though they were Egyptian.
So I get assigned a hotel. And then another. And then 2 hours later, a third one. In between this time, folks of lighter complexions are being whisked off to other hotels. Me and two people from Gabon have been sitting in a little corner watching this going “What the f…” each time. It’s now going to 2:30am and I’m meant to be back at the airport at 7:30 and I’m furious. So I spot the first person I can yell at and walk towards them angrily.
“Listen, you little cumstain, if I see another bus leaving and it’s not from the rear view mirror of the bus I’m in, I’m going to seriously f**k you up. You and your little friend. (He had a midget friend.) You keep telling me ‘ten minutes’ every ten minutes. It’s been almost 3 hours. You must think we don’t have lives or something.” My posse was now standing behind me like it was a rap battle adlibbing everything.
OK, I didn’t call him a cumstain. But I did threaten legal action and wouldn’t you know it, 2 minutes flat and I was in a bus. The hotel was the worst thing ever. My bed was harder than the floor and my door didn’t close. And my bathtub had electric wires and open sockets all over the place. And at some point while lying on that bed and breaking open walnuts with my pillows, I swear I saw a rat walk into my bathroom and then run out like ‘F*ck this! I’m going back to the sewers.’
I tried to sleep but was woken up by a call from the reception 2 hours too early and the following sunrise. I walked to the window to watch the sunrise and realised my hotel overlooked a slum. I was at a loss for words at this point.
Since I was early, I went to talk to ET customer care and settle my grief once and for all.
You know what? The head of customer care showed up and then left me standing waiting for her. After waiting half an hour for her, I just walked away and decided I’d never take that airline if I had a choice.
The whole time, every. single. employee. without. fail. was an asshole at one point or another and not a single apology was issued. Not a single one. And if anyone at Ethiopian Airlines is reading this, I wouldn’t have been mad if your flights were late. Even the absence of food on the plane (forgot to mention that) wasn’t thaaaat bad. I wouldn’t even have been angry at the hotel or the lack of breakfast. What gets me is that your people have the courtesy of Tabasco laced sandpaper. They aren’t just crass and abrasive, they seem to enjoy it. Even if they weren’t nice, if they did their job, I’d be OK. But your people…man, listen, my frequent flyer miles and my peoples’ are going to go somewhere else.
And if you want to know what you can do to rectify this situation, I have one suggestion.