I have been on many bumpy flights but an SAA Airways flight from Johannesburg to Kenya was the worst flight ever. I don’t know if it was the worst flight I have taken (memory does plays tricks on me these days) but certainly one that stands out. Over the years i have come to loathe airports and sometimes find airports absolutely expensive for nothing. I think the best airports and the newest are simply engineering and extremely predictable.
Back to my flight, it was a litany of disasters from start to finish.To begin with, boarding was delayed by just over 2 hours. Boarding was to take place at around 11.15 pm and we were to taxi id say around 12.10 am. It is an estimated 5 hour flight. Some airlines have taken 4 hours 50 minutes on the same route. After boarding,we weren’t airborne until almost 90 minutes had passed. The explanation for the delay was very hard to come by as the Captain gave dodgy mechanical reasons that i still cant remember to date. Dodgy because, if the explanation was clear, id have written but they did tell us what was wrong with the aircraft, an Airbus (forgotten the exact type).
In my row, the window seat was occupied by an Asian male in his 40s whom i later got to know, was from China. And i try by all means necessary not be seated next to Chinese folks on planes. Lets just say, i have learnt my lesson about Chinese passengers on planes over the years. I was seated in the aisle seat or the seat near the passage. The economy class had a 3-4-3 configuration. The seat in the middle of our row was empty. Great, more room to stretch my arms during the flight and lean my elbows while watching movies. Sorry i forgot, the plane had no individual on board entertainment. No wifi. Just the old rugged planes that play movies on the screens above over heard storage compartments. The airline just chooses the movie you should watch. And i hadn’t brought a book to read as i normally do.
Once the Chinese gentleman had stored his luggage on the overheard compartment, he began taking photos inside the plane and photographed me. I protested and told him, he should delete the photos of me and also learn to seek permission first before taking pictures of people in future. I even wondered whether one is allowed to take photos inside a plane.
Anyways we eventually taxi, get cleared for take off and off we go. We are now at around 30 000 feet or so. After 30 minutes, seat belt sign goes off meaning we have leveled at cruising altitude. Time for nap. Great. The turbulence that struck said wait a minute. For the next 30 minutes it was very bumpy. Fortunately a huge aircraft like the SAA Airbus fleet arent as bumpy as the small Embraer plane that i use going back home from Johannesburg to Eswatini. At this point in time, i am starting to realize that nothing seems to be going right today. FUCKOLOGY if you must.
Then for some strange reason, the person behind me starts to kick my seat. Turn around to give the stink eye. She wasn’t kicking, she was praying and banging her head on my seat. After serving us dinner and seeing the Chinese gentleman spill food all over, i had reached my limit and adopted the IDGAF attitude. Chinese guy began to snore loudly after dinner and my saving grace was headphones and listening to music on my phone. After this, the flight was uneventful. Landed safely, went for the carousel to pick my luggage which never showed up. I went to an SAA desk and told to file in a complaint. Given a reference number and i was so tired such that i didn’t put up a fight. I was told my luggage would arrive the following evening. I just wanted to get to the hotel and rest.
The hotel driver who was supposed to pick me up was nowhere to be found. By this time, i was so messed up that i decided to take a seat inside the airport terminals and wait for the driver. I managed to ask some lady who selling in a kiosk nearby if she had WIFI. The Kiosk was selling coffee and she said yes if i buy coffee. Bought coffee reluctantly, sent an email expecting no response alerting the hotel that i was stuck at the airport. The hotel quickly responded arguing that he was there on time. I told them that our flight had been delayed. I got told driver would be there in 30 minutes which turned out to be 2 hours (Courtesy of African time). Got to the hotel, checked in and just slept.
Following day, i was in a mood for a fight for my luggage with SAA. I had only a jean and a T shirt in my backpack and all my toiletries were in my luggage. Bought toothbrush, face towel and roll on in the afternoon. The following day around 8 pm, i went to the airport to enquirer about my luggage. I had sent 5 emails with no response. I had liquid courage mind you and i wasn’t prepared to accept that my luggage had not yet arrived. When i got to the SAA desk, i started off calmly and i was told my luggage was on a flight to arrive soon. I waited for it and bought two more rounds while waiting. I was in a foul mood by this time. Fortunately enough luggage arrived as promised and i returned to the hotel feeling like a brave WARRIOR, proud of myself. Had gone to war and came back victorious.