Part 3 on my mammoth Easter Break Trip:
After my short break in Ethiopia, I was scheduled to attend a workshop in Accra.
So I arrived at the airport in Addis Ababa and lined up in the Ethiopian Airlines queue (funny how many of my anecdotes on this blog take place in airports). When I got to the counter, I put forward my ticket:
Check-in Agent: The flight to Accra does not exist.
Me: But I have a ticket for the Ethiopian Airlines flight to Accra.
Check-in Agent: It does not exist. Its not on my computer.
Me: Perhaps it is cancelled? But if I am booked on it, I cannot imagine that it does not exist.
Thankfully at this point the lady at the check-in counter next to me was also booked on the Addis Ababa -Accra route. At this point, my check-in agent ceded and went to ask her colleague. I was right – the flight did exist. However, they decided to merge it with the flight to Bamako and not tell anyone.
In fact, not only did they decide to merge the Accra (Ghana) and Bamako (Mali) flights, but also the Lome (Togo), Freetown (Sierra Leone) and Monrovia (Liberia) flights as well. WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE.
You can imagine the scene at the gate. The poor Ethiopian Airlines Agent was overwhelmed with questions about where on earth this flight was actually going. Then we got on the plane and the lady behind me decided to double check with the stewardess that the plane was actually going to stop in Monrovia. Naturally the stewardesses had also not been informed of the extra stops the plane was scheduled to make. And so she told the lady that no, this flight was in fact going to Bamako. The poor lady was about to disembark again, when me and other passengers informed the stewardesses that in fact the flight was going to be making a few more stops before Bamako too. It is always very comforting getting on a flight when the crew does not actually know where they are going.
As a little side anecdote, this was also the flight where I decided to watch the silent film The Artist on the large screen at the front of the plane. Now I had heard a lot about this film before hand and knew that amongst other Academy Awards, it had won the one for the best original score. It took me a while to fiddle around with my headphones and I only got them in after the film had actually started. After a while I began to wonder why on earth it had won the Oscar for its music as really, they were pretty standard classical pieces. I continued to watch as it had received all these commendations. However, the point I decided to give up was when there was a scene where two characters were fighting and the music playing was Wagner’s Bridal Chorus. It was only when I attempted to watch the second film did I realize that instead of being tuned to the film channel frequency, I was in fact on the classical music channel. It is a bit difficult to tell when watching a silent film.
As we landed the first time, the lady next to me tapped me on the shoulder and inquired “Bamako?” No. We were still in Lome and 4 stops away from Bamako. It was like a Megabus trip gone wrong.
When I finally got to Accra and to my hotel, I found a series of frantic emails and messages inquiring about my whereabouts. Apparently the Ethiopian Airlines Customer Care Line had also not been informed of the “slight” change in schedule such that people calling to find out whether my flight was late or not were also told it didn’t exist. So for about a 4 hour period they probably thought that it together with me had disappeared. Bermuda Triangle style.