David has recently returned from a trip to Africa. Whilst he was there he sent daily email updates back to Liza in the UK. Here is one of them……
“I forgot to tell you about the fun and games I had en route from Ndola to Eldoret. I was assured by a helpful counter clerk at Ndola that she could arrange for my luggage to be put straight on board the Jetlink flight to Eldoret, so that I wouldn’t have to retrieve the same from the baggage reclaim belt. I was dubious and laid it on thick but she was adamant. Upon arrival at Nairobi something didn’t feel right so I went and enquired at the Transfers desk, where they told me no such thing was possible as my onward flight was domestic. I never did discover whether it was also a problem to do this when switching from one airline to another.
I duly hung around Baggage reclaim for over an hour, and nothing appeared so after nearly another hour of footling I finally got to the Baggage and Hotels Inquiry desk where my smiles were rewarded by some good help. By then, I had figured out that the helpful (but geographically-challenged) Ndola clerk probably thought that Eldoret was outside Kenya, and that I was therefore continuing on an international flight. The Kenyan desk clerk agreed, and set about successfully locating my luggage which was of course indeed marked for onward transfer to Eldoret. None of the Baggage handlers had known what to do with it, so it had just been put down somewhere.
Several things stand out in this story. One was that I had plenty of time between flights, so didn’t need to get anxious, and kept cool, thus getting the best out of all the Kenyan staff, who more often than not get harangued by overwrought and fatigued travellers. I certainly witnessed some of that. Secondly, that calm bred thoughts that provided an explanation and thus helped find a solution as getting ansty with clerks is counter-productive.
On the other end of the scale, some of my dollars were so old that they were not accepted, when tendered to the visa clerk, to my consternation. Thank God I had some KShillings, so as to get my second visa to get in. I was so startled that this time I didn’t handle it well with a rather unpleasant clerk, but I just got my anxiety under control in time. Not that he was very clear at first as to the nature of the problem. The best response seems to be, (smile) “So we have a problem, what can I/we do about it?”
One last point that will send shivers up your spine. Having nowhere else to go and nothing better to do, I went through to the Jetlink counter at domestic immediately after my luggage was recovered. Which was just as well for two reasons. First, there was a very slow queue, for no obvious reason. Secondly, when we left nearly an hour early, I thought how good it was I had been there so early as I had no idea that just because they were full, they could leave before time. Only then did I (duh!) realise that there is one hours difference between Zambia and Kenya. And because I was uncharacteristically early in boarding I made the flight.”
The man clearly shouldn’t be allowed to travel alone……