Tuesday, 8 April 2014

KQ's dreams won't be realized unless it styles up!

In the name of patriotism, I try not to be too critical of Kenya Airways, after all it's the national carrier... and the Pride of Africa. But recent flights to and from Amsterdam have compelled me to speak out also in the name of patriotism. I don't want to see our national carrier go out of business for lack of proper passenger feedback. I'd rather tell them to style up than vote with my feet and just stop flying KQ. So here goes:

1. That was a sorry excuse for a breakfast! The flight departs at 8.15 a.m. That means one has to be at the airport at 6.15 a.m., that means waking up at around 4 a.m. So finally when you get to your seat, you are quite hungry. And then what do you get? Some microscopic cereals without milk, a small yoghurt and a tiny bread roll. And, wait for this, no butter; instead, they've squeezed some Blue Band into a tiny container similar to those that one is given to place their stuff in for lab tests. As for lunch, KQ can't afford salad dressing, and that Blue Band again!

2. Our captain on the flight to Amsterdam had this dazed and disengaged voice that told you that either he had been up too late the night before, or that he had long lost interest in his job. The couple of announcements he had to make seemed like such a chore. On approaching Schiphol, he duly told us that we had began our descent to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. That was a slip of the tongue, but with another Boeing 777 still missing with passengers and crew at that point after making unscheduled left turns in the sky, it was not very comforting to hear this from our captain. More importantly, it communicated a lack of precision that was discomfiting.

3. As for in-flight entertainment, the selection of both music and movies was poor. Half way through watching my movie, it just blacked out and told me the service was no longer available. Just like that! Being the practical person that I am and since I was rather enjoying the movie, I decided, not a problem, I will watch it on the return flight. Shock on me. On the return flight, it was not just one movie that didn't show, the entire in-flight entertainment of my seat was not functioning. I asked the cabin crew what was up and the answer I got? "Actually, there are 30 seats whose entertainment sets are not working and as this is a full flight, there's nothing I can do." Really??

4. On the return flight, we happened to be graced by the President of Burundi. But it was not enough for us to be informed of this great privilege. No. Every announcement had to be prefaced with "Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Burundi, Honorable Pierre Nkuruzinza, ladies and gentlemen...." And I mean every announcement from welcoming us on board, giving us safety instructions, telling us the captain had now switched off the fasten the seat belt sign, informing us dinner was on the way, telling us about the weather in Nairobi, welcoming us to JKIA, etc. all had to start with "Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Burundi, Hon Pierre Nkuruzinza, ladies and gentlemen..." It was maddening, it was like being in a political rally.

I arrived home on Saturday to the news that KQ had received the first of their new dream liner fleet. But it doesn't matter how many dreamliners they acquire, if their service does not improve, they will soon go out of business. We are patriotic and would love nothing better than to support the national carrier, but for all its alleged glamour, flying still amounts to little more than being trapped for eight hours in a metal cage 39,000 feet above sea level. If I am going to endure that necessary imprisonment, I expect the service on board to be of a standard that helps me momentarily to forget the fact of my incarceration.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Finishing on the right side of history...

Over the last two days, and this being the day Martin Luther King Jr. was felled by an assassin's bullet, I've been starkly reminded that standing up for justice can be costly. But those who, at great risk to themselves, speak up for 'the least of these' must continue to do so confident in the knowledge that God himself is able to protect them, including protecting them beyond physical death. For if we give up our life for the cause of justice, we continue to live in the hearts of those for whom we made the ultimate sacrifice. And we finish on the right side of history, knowing that ultimately good will overcome evil, justice will outlive injustice, love will triumph over hate, hope will outlast despair and life will conquer death.