Sunday, March 16, 2008

Arusha, Tanzania: Arriving in Nairobi, Kenya (NBO)

16MAR08 Jomo Kenyata International, Nairobi Kenya (NBO)

We exited the runway and made a right turn to head back to the main terminal.

I could see an Emirates (EK) Airbus A330 taxiing to the gate having just landed before us.

The flight attendant came on the PA and announced that our time on the ground would be 45 minutes and we should all stay onboard; bummer. Ethiopian does not have the rights to carry passengers from Tanzania to Kenya, hence the reason why we had to all stay onboard.

It was awesome to see all the Kenya Airways’ (KQ) airplanes in their vibrant red, white and blue. There was a Boeing 767-300ER, a Boeing 777-200, a Boeing 737-700 and a Boeing 737-300.

We pulled up to our gate, right next to the Emirates A330 on our right and a Kenyan Airways Boeing 777-200 on the left. We had actually pulled up to what looked like the only hard stand at the terminal; cool!

As soon as the doors opened a guy who was also on the flight came to the door with his camera and asked if he could take pictures. The flight attendant said yes, so I joined him. For the two of us, it was an unprecedented picture of KQ’s Boeing 777-200 up close and quite personal.

Another guy showed up as well and we noticed that he had a new Nikon, the D40X; we were talking about switching lens and as it turns out, his lens will fit on my camera and vice versa, but the cameras won’t focus at all. Bummer, I thought. His lens was so much lighter than mine as well.

As we stood there, another flight attendant came by and said we can’t take pictures due to security reasons; really? We all looked at each other and then returned to our seats dejected.

The cleaners came on board and I wondered why since there was no service, so there is no trash. They did take off trash from the toilets though.

Other planes passed by as well including an Embraer ERJ-175 in KQ colors, plus a Precision Air Atr42 as well as a Boeing 737-300 and a Boeing 737-700 both in KQ colors.

Arusha, Tanzania: Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (JRO) to Nairobi, Kenya (NBO)

ET800 16MAR08 Kilimanjaro International, Kilimanjaro Tanzania (JRO) to Jomo Kenyata International, Nairobi Kenya (NBO) 4:45p 5:25p 763 ET-AMF

Flight Time: 0:30
Capacity: 24/211

We walked across the tarmac to the other side for the waiting aircraft. It was majestic!

I took some photos of the airport terminal and its name as well as the control tower; I noticed another passenger doing the same.

I mounted the airplane via the moveable steps that led to the middle of the airplane. At the base of the steps, everyone was asked to identify their bags before they mounted the steps. As I had none, I started my ascent. At that point, I noticed a lady, a nun, was having trouble with her two bags. I offered to assist her, but she declined. At the top of the stairs, I took some more pictures from that vantage point. It is a pity that it is a cloudy day as if it were not, Mount Kilimanjaro would be visible from the background.

I was greeted by a flight attendant dressed like the cutout that was at the check-in counter.

She directed me to my seat which was to the left and the aisle seat on the first row; 13D. As the flight was so open, I moved to a window seat on the right side of the airplane. This aircraft holds 211 in Economy class configured as 2-3-2 and 2-2-2 Business class for a total of 24. There were overhead monitors placed throughout the cabin.

At 4:14p, the door was closed and a minute later, headsets were passed out. The seat belt signs came on at 4:21p and a minute later, the lead flight attendant made an announcement in Arabic and then English. She welcomed us on board and advised that the flying time was 30 minutes at 28,000’. She also advised that the safety video would start in a bit and that we should pay attention. We should also switch off our mobile phones and if there is anything that we would like, just ring our flight attendant call buttons and they would be more than happy to oblige.

The animated safety video started in English and Arabic at the same time. The right engine started and then I noticed two of the ground crew onboard counting passengers; odd. A few minutes later, the left engine started and at 4:33p, we moved forward under our own power. There is no need for a pushback tug at this station.

I had moved to the right side of the airplane so that I could see the airport on takeoff due to the direction of the wind. Well, the direction changed, so we taxied down the runway, made a left turn and started our takeoff roll at 4:38p., we were airborne in no time.

It was a beautiful sight to see as climbed out. It is interesting how green the Arusha area is and the Kilimanjaro are is quite dry.

We basically navigated our way around the mountain range and flew between Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately, due to the cloud coverage, the mountain was not at all visible.

Mount Kilimanjaro lay below the clouds.

There was no service on this flight; as a matter of fact, the seat belt signs were lit the entire flight. One never saw the flight attendants at all.

With 10 minutes to go, the Captain came on the PA and said that it was 30C in Nairobi, Kenya and it was partly cloudy; it was a bit difficult to hear him though. As soon as he was done, we started our descent through quite a bit of turbulence.

The lead flight attendant did make an announcement saying to fasten our seatbelts as we descended.

When we cleared the clouds; Nairobi lay below. It is actually as dry as the Kilimanjaro area and very flat.

We made a straight in approach with just minor turns into the airport landing heavily at 5:12p.

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.

Arusha, Tanzania: departing Arusa

16MAR08 Arusha, Tanzania

I am in the process of departing Arusha and head for the airport in Kilimanjaro for the 4:45p flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADD) via Nairobi, Kenya (NBO).

I don't know if I will have Internet access for a while. I also don't know what my ultimate routing will be, so stay tuned...