This trip report will be pictures mostly, since I have little time to write. Last week I took my mother on a safari trip in Kenya. We flew AMS-NBO-AMS with KL and KQ (on KL metal) and Wilson to Masai Mara on Kenya Air.
August 25th 2009
Seats: Row 13 and 14 (low loads)
This was my first Y flight in a long time and I was not looking forward to it. I had a broken toe (almost healed but still painful) and had to use a crutch as well as be the tour guide and porter for my 71 year old mother. It all turned out to be not even half as bad as I anticipated. I chose a day flight so not to be inconvenienced too much. We arrived at AMS in due time to enjoy the lounge for a bit and made it to the gate.
The aircraft had a load factor of around 50% in Y and 20% in C. I tried for a courtesy upgrade but like always got nowhere with KLM. Still bugs me that in 5+ years of FB Gold I never received an upgrade even once and in 1 year of BAEC Gold I got upgraded 3 times already. Still, I wasn’t entitled to one since I had a deeply discounted M fare.
Not having been in the back section of an airplane for a long time I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. It looked pretty nice, no doubt helped by the many empty seats. I found it quite fun to travel in economy again. The crew was great and friendly as always. On board I got some recognition of my status and was approached by one of the crew that they would block two rows for us to change to after take off.
My original seat
My new seat row
Some more cabin shots
My 'normal' cabin...
The flight was pretty uneventful and boring as usual. Unfortunately flying is becoming very normal for me and I do not get the buzz out of it that I used to get. I watched some movies and read some magazines.
KLM has a great AVOD
Along the route we had some great views.
Along the route we had some mediocre food.
The flight lasted about 8:30 hours and soon we were approaching NBO. Unfortunately day had turned to night.
Something I like about KLM is that the turn off the seatbelt signs early and back on late. They waited until 5 minutes before landing to turn them on.
We arrived in NBO around 7pm and proceeded directly to immigration. We heard some horror stories about the airport and the visa procedure but in fact it was a breeze. It took about 30 minutes in total and everybody was very friendly and relaxed. One tip: if you see a line at the first immigration point proceed to the second one. It is mostly empty.
We were met by our driver and taken to the Norfolk hotel. This was a very good choice. We had a great dinner and went to sleep early.
The next day we flew from Wilson Airport to Masai Mara. We took the afternoon flight which was a direct one, taking about 45 minutes. Wilson airport is a strange mix of small airlines and an aircraft cemetery.
The waiting room
We had to wait for about half an hour before our flight was called. We walked to a Twin Otter together with one other passenger. Very private flight. The pilot told us it might be a bit bumpy but in the end it wasn't that bad. You do feel the turbulence more intensely (of course) and I can see how people find it scary. Especially when the wind blows the aircraft sideways. I loved it!
The safety card
The views were fantastic. Especially the Rift Valley.
The landing in a Twin Otter is very spectacular. You more or less dive to the runway. It was fun to see cows getting out of the way of the rolling plane...
At the airstrip we were met by the staff of the hotel
We stayed at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club (MSC) which was an excellent choice. We got a very good rate thanks to a promotion. The rooms (rather tents) were very luxurious and were lacking things like TV's, wireless, etc. I was very happy about that!
We stayed at the hotel for 5 days so we could combine game drives with relaxation. I am not the 'continuously running around' type. We did a lot of drives and tried for a balloon safari. Unfortunately there was too much wind for that. Below you find a selection of the pictures I took.
We also visited a Masai village (very touristy!)
It had been a great 5 days. Like always, also this trip has to come to an end.
We left for Wilson airport with a Twin Otter again. This time we were the first stop in a series of 4. That was good since we basically did an air safari. The hops between the airstrips took no more than 8 minutes each and they fly relatively low.
Our plane arriving
A glance in the cockpit. Interesting frequency for such a little plane...
After the 4 stops we flew for around 45 minutes to Wilson where we dove to the runway once again.
A look at the terminal from the runway
The terminal from the road
Here is where you collect your luggage: street side!
We overnighted in the Norfolk again and got a club room this time.
September 3rd 2009
KLM MD-11 (Leased by KQ)
The next day we left for the airport at 6 am for the 8:40 flight. We were told to be early but in the end there was no need at all. Traffic was absent and getting through customs was quicker than at AMS. We did have carry on only so maybe that makes a difference but the airport looked and felt organized.
We made our way to the lounge. KQ uses two. The Simba lounge on the ground floor for business class pax only and a second lounge on the first floor that is accessible to elite pax when traveling in economy. The lounge does not look like much but it actually not that bad with ok food and drinks.
They made a boarding call very early and since I was half asleep I reacted and went to the gate. One whole hour too soon I might add.
Our plane (on semi wet-lease to KQ – cabin crew is KQ, flight crew is KL)
The waiting area
The boarding process went rather organized and smoothly. We found our seats and settled in for a long 8 hours in whY. The flight was about 95% full this time. The KQ crew came across as very uninterested and unprofessional.
The MD-11 Cabin
The most surprising thing was that the crew were actively seat shifting pax during taxiing. It later turned out to be KQ staff being upgraded to C about 1 minute before take off. I also noticed that they did not inspect the cabin before take off and left pax with the seat reclined. That lousy attitude would continue during the flight.
Take off in an MD-11 is always nice. Pretty soon after take off they called for the blind to be closed. I personally like that but on a day flight I don't mind people keeping them open. Almost everyone complied however and when pax opened them the fellow pax intervened quite quickly.
Catering out of NBO was very poor. I did not take a picture of breakfast because I was too stumped by the low quality. The crew almost threw you the tray and looked annoyed when you asked anything. They announced there would be self service bars in the aisles (water and juice only!) and that was it. They went to the back galley and stayed there until lunch. When I went back there they acted really annoyed and when I asked if I could take a picture of them they became unfriendly. I wonder why...
We had some nice clouds coming into AMS
Now this you might not believe. I still can't believe it actually happened. During descent several pax were making phone calls on their cell phones. Yes, you read it right. The crew was still walking around and did nothing. Nada. Zilch. They did see the people doing it, butt said noting. Also once again no seatbelt inspection and lots of pax (including myself) left their seat reclined. Bad, bad, bad job KQ. I will take KLM crew over KQ's any day.
Luckily we made it home safely.
I hope you enjoyed this pictures mostly TR. I did not have much time to prepare it since I am leaving for DXB on Sunday. As always feedback and comments are greatly appreciated.