Sunday, March 16, 2008

Arusha, Tanzania: Departing Kilimanjaro International, Kilimanjaro Tanzania (JRO)

16MAR08 Kilimanjaro International, Kilimanjaro Tanzania (JRO)

I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare at about 2:20p. At this airport, only passengers who are traveling are allowed into the check-in area. I took the opportunity of taking a picture of the name of the airport as well as the departure area before entering.

Oh, I did ask Precision Air the cost of the ticket from here to Nairobi, Kenya (NBO) as I was unable to access their Web site over the last two days. The fare was 232.00 USD one way. In contrast, the cost to take a car from Arusha to the Kenyan border is 20 USD for a 2-hour ride in a car. Then you would have to walk across the border and then take another car into Nairobi.

There were two additional flights on the board; Air Kenya to Nairobi and Precision Air also to Nairobi. The Precision Air was an ATR-72.

I cleared the initial security although this one guy kept beeping and eventually after he took off almost everything, the guy just frisked him and then he as fine. I spotted the Ethiopian Airlines (ET) check-in counter and picked up a departure form while I waited for the check-in process to start.

There was a power cut twice while we waited, but it did not affect the airline check-in computers at all; just the fans and the lights. Darkness was not an issue as there was light from the windows and the two atriums in the airport. If this was at night though, it would be an issue. The advertising signs behind the counter did not have an issue either.

Another counter opened up and I went over there, waited for two customers to be checked in and then it was my turn. My process was easy and after a phone call, I was asked what kind of seat do I want; I chose a window, but she said there were none; so I assumed that there were no through seats. She offered to give me an Exit row aisle in row 13, so I took it.

While I waited to be checked in an American lady came up and was bitching not to leave her. It was weird how different her approach was from mine. The assistant just kind of looked at her and waited for the main agent to arrive.

After all that was done, I went upstairs to the restaurant where I saw the just arriving Ethiopian Airlines (ET) Boeing 767-300ER. The doors had not even opened as yet.

After that I went to one of the local fares and had a local beverage. As the Immigration guy said we had to wait until the pre-boarding announcement was made.

A pre-boarding announcement was made at 3:17p, so I then proceeded through Immigration. I noticed that everyone who had cleared was still waiting. Once I cleared, I realized that the X-ray machine did not have any power, hence the reason for the hold up.

While I waited for the power to come back on, I went upstairs to check out the Business Class Lounge. I noticed the Priority Pass sign on the door as I entered the darkened Lounge. I asked the agent who was there if I can use a credit card to gain access and he said no, Business Class ticket only or a Priority Pass card, he continued. I asked if I could take some pictures, he said yes, I did, thanked him and then left.

Downstairs, an airport agent told us to follow her as they apparently had another machine that had power near gates 5 and 6, the domestic gates. We all used that one and then waited for our flight to board. The airplane sat on the tarmac with the middle left door open waiting for us. It was now 3:47p. From looking around, the load seemed very light for this large an airplane. The load that arrived was pretty heavy though. When I checked this flight schedule, it was showing a Being 73W; not sure which one was that though.

As I waited, I looked around, but could not find any power plugs at all. Bummer as I only have 1:02 of charge left.

As we waited, a dust storm was rapidly developing out in the distance. The sky behind the plane slowly became brown.

The boarding announcement commenced at about 4p, although the boarding pass indicated 4:15p. I guess everyone is here so why wait... Basically, an agent came to the door and said without a microphone or anything, “please board.” She then took a piece of our boarding pass and about 24 of us boarded.

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