Two years ago, I flew Ethiopian Airlines and swore never to never make the same mistake again. Considering that I am originally from a developing country, I am very well aware that everything is developing. For this reason, the comparison of Ethiopian to KLM or Lufthansa would be unfair.
Since Ethiopian Airlines officially became a Star Alliance member, they should be judged similarly.
In 2011, I remember being held back for so long in Ethiopia and wondering if we’d ever take off. A one hour delay became two, and then three, before we finally headed for Lagos. During the flight I had asked that the cool air be turned down a bit. The two air hostesses looked at each other and giggled. One responded, “Madam, it’s not cold, maybe you are sick?”.
The shock of the remark warmed me quite up a bit.
Fast Forward to September 2015. This time, I boarded with 3 change of clothes, socks, travel pillow, extra blanket, earphones, snacks and many more. I wasn’t taking any chances. I set my expectations really low so I wasn’t surprised when the flight was delayed in Toronto by 2 hours without publicly informing all passengers. I remained unmoved, while people seemed overly panicked.
A new friend who I had told to drop her expectations was surprised when her requests were either mocked or ignored. She turned to me for consolation but all I could give was an “I told you smile”
My cool, calm and collected persona disappeared when we arrived in Addis-Ababa.
As we all cheerfully approached the next gate, we were greeted by 2 Ethiopian officials who handed us Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner vouchers.
Without any explanation, until probed, we were told to submit our boarding passes in exchange for new ones.
“Huh?” I moved ahead to inquire, when I overheard that our connecting flight had just left and we were being held back in Ethiopia for 24 hours.
Ethiopian Airlines had done it again. No apologies. No notifications. I stood there mute while everyone screamed and complained about EVERYTHING. I knew things weren’t going to change but I was curious to see how things panned out. The displeasure and anger that filled that floor gave me hope that there might have been a solution.
In the midst of the chaos, the Ghanians were also informed that they wouldn’t be flying out that day either. As if that was not enough, another flight was also cancelled. As passengers discussed their losses, I attempted to recover my luggage. I wasn’t prepared to hear any, “Sorry Madam, we don’t have your luggage”.
After I verified that my luggage was okay, I headed over to Debre Damo hotel with the others, where i then fell ill. Let’s just say this was an adventure! Although unplanned, it definitely falls into my ‘unforgettable memories’.
In summary, the manner in which this flight was handled was appalling. Considering that the flight was delayed by Ethiopian Airlines and not the passengers, they should have had the decency to delay the connecting flight, which left merely 20 minutes before we landed.
When airlines delay passengers for up to 24hours it’s inconsiderate, as the purpose of their trip could be ruined entirely. One passenger cried so loudly, alerting every living thing on that floor because she was unlikely to attend the event she had travelled in for. Another had a court case that was to take place the next day. Some others complained of business transactions pending that they were rushing back for.
To cut the long story, short, I PERSONALLY would not be flying Ethiopian airlines again. However, I should say that I see much room for improvement and I hope with time, we can make things work much better.