Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg-Butt

Posted on October 3rd, 2011
Categories: News

I’ve been told that I have unfairly been passing along half-truths (their words, not mine) about the state of our beloved Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). It might surprise you all that I do not and never have told anything but the truth, so help me God — in this magazine, I might add for clarity.

But this taunt did beg an answer.

What exactly is a half-truth? Being a complete idiot, I decided to Google the words. Of course it doesn’t exist, but I checked, just in case.  My Internet adventure did uncover some relatively famous quotes.  ‘A half-truth is a full lie’ – a Yiddish proverb. ‘A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies’. ‘A half-truth is usually less than half of that.’ I couldn’t help myself; I wanted more. ‘In battling evil, excess is good; for he who is moderate in announcing the truth is presenting half-truth. He conceals the other half out of fear of the people’s wrath,’ says Khalil Gibran – philosophical essayist (1883–1931).

An epigram is a half-truth so stated as to irritate the person who believes the other half. Now that rings a bell!

I do go on…

Last week I again sampled the delights of JKIA, and what I have previously told you sadly is still yours to experience the next time your journey takes you there. It is not a pretty sight – a building site now, and for many years to come, that hopefully will one day metamorphose into a world-class international airport. We do live in hope, don’t we?

Over the last year, we have received a number of emails and calls from readers bemoaning the perceived shortcomings of our national airline and a number of its competitors. Nothing to really write home about, but all brought into clear focus at a recent travel gathering addressed by the Kenya Airways (KQ) commercial guru.

Making light of their never-on-time record and in-flight entertainment systems that never work: that really got my attention – and perhaps that was the plan. For these were the two recurring complaints about the Pride of Africa.

You might call it fate, but two emails were waiting for me on my return to the office on these very two subjects. One about a trip where the in-flight systems didn’t work in both directions; the other about a cancelled flight and what happened or did not happen next.

In-flight entertainment systems not working seems to be endemic across this airline’s system and across most aircraft types. From what we hear and experience, this has been ongoing for a couple of years.

People worry, as they do, that if a perceived small problem like this can’t be fixed, what about the rest?

The other email was about a cancelled flight to Bangkok. Overnight accommodation was arranged near the airport, but first the passengers had to get their vouchers. This turned out to be anything but easy. They were led from the check-in area to the Customs Hall in the arrivals area, entering by the back door, passports retained, and security questions asked.

Some very confused passengers were later transferred by bus to said nearby hotel. Wake-up calls were made for a very early start; the return transport would depart the hotel at 0400. It simply didn’t arrive. Who to call? Eventually at 0600, as they described it, a matatu arrived and took some of the passengers to the airport, leaving others behind to fend for themselves — no doubt adding more stress to their already delayed journey. There is a better way, surely.

The other airline in for a good number of barbs and which also features negatively on Facebook is the LCC (low-cost carrier) Fly540. I won’t debate their LCC label, just to say that I’ve never found it to be so. The major bone of contention is the airline’s schedule integrity or, more importantly, lack thereof. “Never on time” seems to be the collective opinion of our readers and a lot of the Facebooker faithful.

On a recent trip to Finland, by way of Heathrow’s Terminal 5, I was hugely impressed with this relatively new terminal complex. Complex it is not, with loads of space for loads of people – and an excellent variety of tax-free shops. The whole Heathrow experience (I also used Terminal 3 on one leg of the journey), was easy and stress-free and, dare I say it, almost a pleasure.

Finland was better than expected, but then what did I expect? Snow, vodka, Nokia and beautiful women! Except for the snow (a balmy sunny 14C), it was as expected. However, I left full of guilt – the farewell dinner was traditional fare – reindeer steaks. Delicious beyond belief, but what would I tell my children?  That I ate one of Santa’s reindeer? I did, and they were not impressed.

Why am I always whinging, is it that there is so much to whinge about? I’m a positive sort of person – gotta make a plan. Send me good news.  [email protected]

Happy news received as a result of my last column about the Driftwood Club in Malindi. Seems the new owners, if it’s a done deal, do not necessarily plan to tear the place down. Roger says if the deal is done the party is on…

TCB

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