The agony of air travel in Kenya

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I had a tiresome experience this past weekend on my way from Mombasa to Nairobi following an inordinate delay due to what airport officials told us were ‘faulty lights on the runway at the Moi International Airport.’

I wonder what explanation was given to my pal Ben Agina who left Mombasa in the afternoon but faced similar delays.

I was due to land in Nairobi shortly before 8pm but got here well after 10pm.

What was infuriating was the fact that no one bothered to offer an explanation over the delay.  I heard two announcements during my five-hour sojourn at the airport but they did little to assuage my anguish since they were inaudible.

Given the traffic jams on our roads, air travelers cannot afford to make it to the airport in the nick of time to catch their flights.  Those who’ve missed flights like me before know too well that it is safer to laze at the airport than to take unnecessary risks.

I spoke to a colleague who reminded me the agony passengers have to go through if they report a little late at the airport due to the culture of over booking flights ( I have flown Virgin Atlantic and once you pay for your ticket, you never have to re-confirm your travel since they never overbook their flights).

I sympathise with passengers who had connecting flights through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.  Were they adequately compensated?

Sometime last year I was heading to London but the airline was forced to cancel our flight twice.  As a way of saying ‘sorry’ for the inconvenience, the airline issued each of us with free return air tickets that were valid for one year.  I still wonder what sort of recompense would have been issued had it been a local airline.

The point I’m making is that the quality of service air passengers are subjected to by airline and airport officials is wanting.

Frequent travelers on the Nairobi-Mombasa route tell me the delay we underwent is all too common.  Why is this issue not being addressed adequately?

We cannot develop our tourism industry if passengers (especially those with connecting flights) face frequent delays in an out of our airports.

One of the many friends I made at the airport on Sunday night told me his wife was beginning to doubt if he was genuinely stranded or wanted to spend more time in Mombasa!  If his wife is reading this, I can confirm the fellow was indeed marooned at the departure lounge of Moi International Airport for seven agonising hours.

I hope concerned authorities will take some action and resolve the problems passengers undergo as a result of decrepit facilities at our airports.  This is a crucial element of the Kenyan economy.

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  • Andy Jacobsen

    I hear you on this one. Even though I’m not Kenyan, I share in the frustration of your generation. It is a pity that politics can stand in the way of youthful people ascending into high office. I have advice for you and Mr Miller. It’s now NEVER. If he let’s this one go, we get stuck in the same rut. Please insist on this one. PLEASE. You will do many of your generation a huge favour. It is time to rid this country of political patronage.

  • Young Turk

    Miller should not give it up that easy. He and those who are pushing for his appointment should fight it out to the very end. For how long will we just give way for the Kaparo’s,Raila’s and the rest of the wazees. They should go home and look after cattle as Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi once advised former President Moi.

  • Amina Hassan

    Fight to the bitter end Mr Miller. Kenya needs fresh impetus. Do not fail us on this one!

  • Mutua Ndunda

    I get your point Michael. The youth in this country need to go back to the drawing board. We have been beaten on this one but there is a chance to make a difference. Lets get more young people in Parliament. That way, there will be no wazees to fight nominations like that of Mr Miller. Are you prepared to take up the mantle Michael and Co?

  • A.T

    He should let it go. He can fight another day. This is because by the time politicians are through with him, he wont have a name. and as a lawyer, he needs his name to attract clients.

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