Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg-Butt – August/September 2017

Posted on August 13th, 2017
Categories: News

 I was going to start this editions rumble with tales of my travels to Europe over their summer months, but more about that later.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – Kenya’s window to the world has done it again. It’s hard to believe but here goes. Parking for their customers has always been at a premium, with ALL car parks being continually full, so much so that the great and the good usually travel by taxi to and from the airport.

The multi-storey car park opposite the new international arrivals terminal 1E, never opened as planned, as it became itself the international arrivals terminal after the fire that destroyed the original international arrivals building. I hope I haven’t lost you. Now that terminal 1E is up and running I noticed that work had started to convert it back to what it was originally intended to be.

I was told it was open, so I decided to use it – and found it open for business – but sadly not for me, the customer. It seems that it is for staff only. There is not a sign anywhere that states ‘Staff Parking Only.’ How bloody ridiculous can you get – staff first customers second, it’s like those reserved parking bays in town reserved for bank and insurance big wigs and the like.

This is what Sam Walton the founder of Walmart had to say about ‘customers first’ “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

 There is a parking ticket payment device in the multi-storey, but I was told that staff do not pay, they enter with staff cards.

Surprising how many ‘staff’ have Range Rovers, Land Cruisers and the like – equally surprising there were no red number plates which I might have expected.

I was offered the option of trying to find parking outside the termini one’s or alternatively going to the large (but full) parking opposite terminal two, which is a 10-minute slog back to the airport proper. There is a shuttle bus, but it seems unreliable and is often out of order.

For the record I parked in the multi-storey. I magically produced a decades old business card from my days when I was with Air Canada, that and a crushed note did the biz.

Going back to the customer first scenario, I notice that both British Airways and Etihad here in Nairobi have closed their offices to their customers, people to people comms it seems are no longer important. Phone if you are lucky enough to get through or email are the only alternatives.

The former ‘world’s favourite airline’ made ‘putting people first’ at the centre of its culture – sadly all now gone to shareholder value – the customer be damned.

Of course customer second is all our fault, the travellers of the world – our demand is such that service standards and cost cutting by the worlds airlines goes not unnoticed but if the price is right – who cares we buy.

That’s how the airlines see it, so giving you more for less is not going to happen. Instead look for less as the new more.

ABBA as we all know was a great Swedish group, made even more famous by the play and movie ‘Mama Mia’ – in the UK ABBA has another meaning ‘Anyone But British Airways’.

We flew to the UK via Muscat with Oman Air; you might remember I won two tickets at their Nairobi press launch. What a great little airline, with all the high standards of its Gulf neighbours. I’m told their fares are über competitive and you get a standard of service not experienced on most European airlines. The connections from Nairobi to Europe are not ideal but not impossible, but if you are going east you’d be wise to enquire.

We’d never been to Manchester (an Oman Air destination) so decided to stay a few days and explore the city – I did my research, and found not a lot to do. We asked the taxi driver from the airport what there was to do ‘Not much’ he replied. But went on to tell us that Manchester had the largest shopping centre in Europe The Trafford Centre and you could also visit the football stadiums. We did neither, instead exploring the city centre its restaurants, watering holes and lots of people watching.

Flying to the south of France with easyJet was a new experience, low cost check, customer service levels as expected cheap and cheerful but perfectly acceptable, sardines yes but not as bad as I’d expected.

The way they turn-a-round their flights is amazing, departing passenger are stacked in the airbridge to the yet to arrive aircraft – just so they are ready to board in an instant. Once the aircraft arrives the passengers disembark onto the tarmac. The airbridge with all of us in it is then connected to the aircraft and we are boarded – this all in 10-minutes. They have it down to an art form.

Like most European airlines you can buy food and drink onboard. We bought before we boarded, however the onboard menu looked enticing and the gent over the aisle ordered a hot bacon butty which looked delicious. I felt like Mr. Bean staring at his food, and wanting to stick my finger into it to see I it was indeed hot. As you’d expect I restrained myself.

We stayed in an apartment in the foothills of the Alps inland from the French Riviera in a small hill village called Biot. The food was excellent and more than reasonable, the wine – well let me tell you that we set a price limit of €2 a bottle, not at restaurants obviously, but from the local dhuka’s. Many bottles were consumed with only one that didn’t meet our expectations, however low they might have been. The weather in July was brutal getting up to 36C and evidently it was a little crowded but I didn’t really notice. Best time to visit May/June or September/October. We’ll be back sooner rather than later.

So much more to tell….like a bunch of bankers and the government now the major shareholders of our national airline – do they have a clue – I think not. Please prove me wrong!!.

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