Nairobi Stories and Tips

Assorted Airlines, Airports & Arrivals! PartIX

We’ve got to November 2008 and still no further with the “wonderful” visa people for all sorts of reasons. Having had a stressful year and not having seen my wife for almost a year I started looking for flights to Kenya, hoping to find a deal around the time of their General Election–27th December. Everyone thought I was mad!

Unusually there were no deals to be had around the Boxing Day time which is when the flights to Kenya suddenly drop in price and this was consistent with dates through to the New Year. The best deal were with African Safari Club~(more on them in the summary). Unfortunately due to work constraints I wasn’t able to book them as I would get back to Britain a week too late so had to keep looking.

I tried my usual trusted online travel agents 1] 2] 3]
4] 5]
6] & finally 7) before their merger.]

None of them could come up with suitable dates that worked for me so I emailed African Safari Club & Thomas Cook as they both fly to Mombasa from airports abroad both replied but were unhelpful–African Safari Club sent me the dates of flights from Britain coming back after the date I needed to be back and completely ignored the fact that I needed to fly from abroad as their British dates didn’t suit my needs. Thomas Cook part of the TUI group that owns Condor that DOES fly from a couple of Airports in Germany (easy to get to from London) said they couldn’t book me on anything from abroad but they could do from London (oddly enough Via) Germany using Condor and taking it past the £1,000 mark). I looked into it a bit further and found that I could actually do 2 sets of flights 1 from London–Germany and then with Condor direct from Germany–Kenya (Mombasa) for about £200 less! Having discovered this and not having enough knowledge I went on several travel review sites I belong to and was inundated with information on who flew from various cities around Europe(Mainly Germany) to Kenya(Mainly Mombasa). Eventually the choice became no choice and it looked like I would be flying to Germany with Air Berlin and then onto Mombasa with LTU International Airlines (I’d never heard of them before either but the reviews said they were ok).] [400]

However, as we were so close to the dates I was hoping for and it was a great deal more money than we could really afford I decided to check with on the First Choice Website just one more time and there it was hidden among the last minute long haul holidays-A flight from Gatwick-Mombasa on the perfect dates for me and work at a Grand Total of £258.67 so it was booked and I was able to see my family over Xmas as well as go to join the wife and see the other half of the family for the New Year. This was has been the cheapest I’ve managed to fly to Kenya for so far.

So after Christmas with immediate family minus the wife has passed on the morning of the 27th December I rush up to Nomad Pharmacy to arrange my malaria prescription as I had to start them immediately as I would be landing in Kenya on the morning of the 29th December. After receiving my prescription and collecting the tablets I then had to change some money into dollars (you get a cheaper visa this way).

The plan to have everything packed, sorted and travel on a late night train to Gatwick went awry as God hasn’t got round to granting my demand for 25Hours in a day as I ran out of time and ended travelling on the Gatwick Virgin Express Train, cost-£15.90 compared to £8.90 as I realized that the Southern Train leaving at the same time might just make the check-in time a little too tight if there were any delays. I arrived at Gatwick with plenty of time to Check-In to discover that I was way over the weight limit (I wasn’t when I left home and the bags had been with me at all times-no-one could have added anything). So I went off removed a few items and rather than pay an extortionate charge threw them in the bin-this way a member of the public can save them if they want and the airport don’t thrive on misery caused by themselves. I went back to the weighing machine and was still over weight, after removing still more things I weighed in at the baggage reclaim people, the machine between them and the Airline Check-In. Would you believe it three different weights, all within 4/5 minutes of each other-I think the First Choice may have had an inkling their scales weren’t working wholly correctly as when it was clear I just might argue about the discrepancy they checked it through without any fuss although I was apparently 5Kgs over with the Suitcase and 4Kgs over with the hand luggage.

Now, with bags checked in I finally get to make my way upstairs and-Oh joy, there’s virtually no queue for the security check and getting airside for a nice cup of tea, buying some water for the plane (the planes really appreciate it–honest!) and a newspaper to read on the plane. As we get to the front it becomes clear why there’s apparently no real queue for security, there’s almost all the machines being used and an awful lot of staff working hard to get us tall through quickly. I think this may have had something to do with the threat of a strike and not wanting to upset too many customers! As I approach I asked one of the many security milling around if I needed to remove my boots “No, no need I was assured and going through the 1st check this was indeed true and I didn’t need to remove the boots and was again assured this was not necessary, same at the 2nd check but not at the 3rd check where I was asked to remove the damn boots which obviously I do although it’s a bit of a nuisance and as most of the machines are being used there’s not much space to put your shoes back on and we were hurried along at this point so I wasn’t actually able to replace my belt and shoes till I was airside and had found a seat to do this at 10 minutes later.

Finally through I sat down for a few minutes to realize that I had a fair bit of time to kill before we would be called for boarding. So I wandered in to a well known bookshop to purchase water and a paper to read on the plane and decided that I might just get the wife some perfume that she’d requested if it was affordable (surely it should be at these tax free shops). As it turned out this was not the case and the prices were considerably more than I would pay locally, this was at all of the “Duty Free” shops, not just one or two. Whilst searching for a suitable perfume I did hear the boarding call for my flight but after last year’s performance I knew that I was definitely on their computer database as I had received information from them all year and that there was no rush to get to the boarding gate.
On getting to the boarding gate I discover that this year there was a need to get to the boarding gate as it’s not it’s usual place and there are not enough seats to go round, on this occasion luck is with me and I find a seat at a far end where no one wants to go. I’m finally called on to the plane among the last few but not worried as I’ve worked out that I’ve got my preferred aisle seat, but that the area for hand luggage is full so I stuff my bag under the seat in front and settle in for my flight. I’m sorry to report that the decent films were all on the upgrade on the flight out but were by no means new. Due to the limited amount of space and the man in front leaning right back I wasn’t able to get much sleep so I spent most of the night playing solitaire as “Who wants to be a Millionaire” is now an upgrade quiz. The food was rather bland on the flight out as I don’t actually remember what it was but do remember it wasn’t enough! (1450words)

We arrived on time to find that there were planes from Italy and Britain already there and another one arrived while we were waiting for visas and immigration staff which took about 30minutes, once through that, it was on to the search the white tourist.

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