Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To be or not to be...

...double booked. (With apologize to Shakespeare)

Clutching our boarding tickets, we entered the aircraft bound for Mwanza from Dar es Salaam. Passing through Business Class to the centre rear of the plane, we soon found our seats: Numbers 15A and 15B. While Grant placed my laptop and his personal bag with our travel documents in the overhead compartment, I slid into the seat next to the window. As Grant took his seat, a man sat down in the aisle seat and greeted us.

A minute later a lady stopped at our seat, looked at her ticket and looked at the number displayed above us. "I think you have my seat," she said to me. Grant showed her our stubs and with this, she turned and walked back down the aisle. A few minutes later an air hostess approached with the same passenger in tow. Now the hostess asked Grant for his boarding passes and also disappeared back down the aisle. We'd all but forgotten about this muddle up, when the hostess returned and asked if she could move us to other seats. We agreed and as we followed her down the plane, Grant whispered to me that we're going to sit in Business Class. And sure enough, from seat 15A and 15B we were moved to 4A and 4C. Not next to, but opposite, each other in the upgraded seats!
Above left are our original tickets in economy class, while the ones on the right are for business class

Grant and I are avid collectors of airmiles. And with the amount of air travel we do, we have, in the past built up quite a bank of miles. However, only once in ten years did we remain with the same airline long enough to cash in on miles. When we left Sudan for the last time in 2010, we had enough Sheba miles (so called in Ethiopian Airlines) to upgrade to Business Class on our final flight between Khartoum and Johannesburg.

From the time we waited in the Business Class lounge (called Cloud Nine) in Khartoum, I had the most wonderful treat I've ever had while travelling. When we boarded the plane at about 10am, I was the only lady in Business Class, while the other passengers  were made up of five men, my husband included. I was offered champagne as I seated myself but of course declined and accepted a fresh orange juice instead. As soon as we were airborne, the hostess came around with a menu for Grant and my special meal (Grant always books me as a vegetarian) I cannot remember what I ate that day, some traditional Ethiopian food, some Western Dish, followed by a selection of desserts (my favourite part of a meal!) but the food just kept coming!

Finally as the coffee and cheese and water biscuits were served (can you imagine?), we were flying over SA airspace and not long afterwards we began to the descent to Johannesburg.

Last week, thinking back to our luxury flight in Business Class on Ethiopian Airways, we settled back and waited for a cooked breakfast and coffee in real cups, not plastic ones! I saw the hostess hand out trays with white linen napkins on them to the first three rows. When we got to my row, she placed a napkin on my fold-away tray. Once she'd given Grant a napkin to place directly onto his fold-away tray too, I looked at him and he whispered to me that they'd run out of trays!

Next I watched the hostess serve plates of full English breakfast to the first three rows. When she got to me, she bent down, extracted a pre-packed meal from her trolley and plopped it in front of me. It contained a stale white bun wrapped in plastic and a small carton of  fruit juice. Period. Looking up I saw the assistant steward emerge from the galley with a basket of steaming bread rolls. Using a pair of tongs, he placed one on the plate of the person two rows ahead of me. He then returned the basket to the galley.

I asked the hostess why everyone wasn't getting a cooked breakfast to which she replied that they'd run out of breakfasts! Behind her, the assistant steward leant over the passenger in the front aisle row, which I could see, and gave him another tray of food.  Placing my uneaten roll and juice on the floor, I decided to pay a visit to the toilet in the front of the plane. Before opening the door, I peered down into the galley and there on the lower shelf, were a couple of trays of full English breakfasts and the basket of rolls.


BTW, I declined the coffee which was served in white cups but no saucers.


  1. Wow, riding first class. I'd like to do that on SA Air where the first class is the size of my bedroom, for each passenger. What was up with the breakfast problem? Dry rolls indeed. Who do they think they/you are.

    It's really a shame we can't add All the air miles together.

  2. How nice to sit in first class. I've only had this privilege two or three times in my lifetime, none of which I paid extra for. It was always such a treat to have the extra leg room and attention, and the food service too! So sorry you didn't get yours. One annoying thing is I've lost all my points in the last many years from using the airlines due to their new rules about having to use points by a certain timeframe..usually an unrealistic time frame for someone like me who only flies long distance 2or 3 times a year.

  3. Wow what a treat swapping the seats. I had a bad surprise coming back from Athenes to Brussels. Nobody had told us that since a week food in planes were no longer free but you had to pay. The only thing was, that they had run out of food ! What I got not even a sandwich but a packet of salty buscuits for an exhorbitant price of 5 Euros, in a shop it costs not even 2 € !A shame !

  4. Hi Jo, it would be nice to sit in the first class. It was very weird how they acted serving you your breakfast. I hope you still had a nice flight. Have a great day!

  5. Neat story, Jo. So nice to move into those seats, surely a more pleasant way to travel.

  6. Oh My---the good and the bad!!!!! Sitting in first class has got to be wonderful. I've never done it and probably never will.

    Don't understand why you were treated so bad on that other flight though. I believe I would complain (not that it will do any good)....

    Is Grant not a vegetarian also??? I thought you both were... I try not to eat as much meat as I used to--but I still love meat!


  7. An interesting story of air travel. I'm sure you would have lots of tales to tell just as we have. When we were both working and the girls had left home we travelled Business class, especially with Bill having a heart problem. We have had some wonderful service especially from Malaysian, Singapore and Japan Airlines.
    Qantas is okay but Swiss was the worst. When we retired we tried to save money and suffered economy class to Canada but that was the flight from hell. It would be the worst airline. (Hope I don't get sued for libel) Now we compromise and go Premium Economy which is very good. Not as posh as Business Class but more comfortable and better food than economy. I'm talking international flights here. It takes 8 hours to get out of Australia to Asia and another 12 hours to Europe or 13 hours to USA. In Australia we fly economy. We are going Air New Zealand next time but we have to stop in NZ which adds another 3 hours to the flight.

  8. Oh My! First Class is best, for sure and for certain, especially on those long International flights! I never bought a first class ticket in all the 20 years of traveling from here to Africa but got bumped up a couple of times. The best part for me was not the food but having that seat that reclined flat and the blanket and pillow that enhanced my sleep as we traveled. Don't know why the stewardess chose not to give you the first class meal. They should have.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo