#921603 by honey lamb
19 May 2016, 17:20
After a fairly non-descript flight from Durban, the main feature of which was the absence of gin in the economy cabin, we arrived in Addis Ababa at about 9pm for an onward departure to Dublin at 11.05pm. As we taxied to the terminal, the cabin crew informed us that certain flights which seemed to be to the Middle East would depart from T1 but our flight was from T2 at which terminal we would be arriving. We were also informed that there had been recent showers in Addis Ababa which we were soon to learn for ourselves. We passed row after row of Ethiopian Airlines planes with a lone Lufthansa one in their midst but no sign of a terminal but how many times have you arrived at an airport with nothing to view but swathes of runways and grassy fields while those on the other side of the plane are viewing the hustle and bustle of the terminals? However it would seem that none of us would see the hustle and bustle of terminals as we landed at a remote stand where buses were waiting for us. And it was dark! Picking our way through the puddles from the recent rain we boarded the bus and were taken to a terminal which on first impression resembled a small provincial airport. Inside there were signs for T1 and also for baggage claim and transfers. We followed the signs for transfers, went up and escalator and turned right to an unforgettable experience! :eek:

Arriving into the departures area the scene was one of absolute chaos! The place was thronged and the first thing we noticed was ceiling to floor swathes of plastic sheeting the length of the terminal - obviously some major construction work was underway. We had seen from a board at the bottom of the escalator which told us that our flight departed from gate 5 and on entering the area we saw that we had to turn left. At this point I can't tell you what was to the right. All I can recall was that the population of Ethiopia seemed to be there and there may or may not have been places to eat. We progressed along past a short row of shops, all of equal size, more resembling stalls that one might see in a souk than shops. The only one that stood out for me was a jewellery one - it seemed a bit incongruous in the surroundings. The other thing we rapidly became aware of was the pools of water all over the place - it would seem that the roof of the terminal had sieve-like qualities! J spotted gate 5 before I did and it was obviously a glassed-in area.

As we approached the area there was a guy calling for passengers for Washington, Toronto, Los Angeles and Dublin. We presented ourselves and he took our boarding passes and crossed off our names from a list! None of this new-fangled scanning for him! We were passed in to the pre-security area and, through the glass looking into the scanning area proper we could see signs of utter chaos. All over the floor were plastic bottles of liquids which had been tossed there by the security staff and the whole experience looked as if it was going to be unpleasant. We weren't far wrong. As we waited a middle-aged white man pushed his way forward and tried to pass us. There wasn't a word of “Excuse me” or “I need to get past” and I bristled up at such a display of bad manners. However, as I opened my mouth to protest, J hissed to me to take no notice as she immediately recognised him as someone who would treat both African people and women with the same disdain and as she had spent her formative years on this continent, I bowed to her superior knowledge. It still rankled though and the only way I could give way to my frustration/annoyance/disbelief was with the phrase “There’s always one!” :roll: It was a phrase we were to repeat over and over again! Fortunately there was another boarding pass check and he was hived off to the left while we went straight ahead. Security was as awful as we expected it to be. The floor was wet from the recent rain which continued to drip from the roof and on the floor was the filthiest carpet I have ever seen stretched alongside the screening channels. And we were expected to take of our shoes!! And because the weather was hot we were not wearing socks! Shudder!! The man in charge of the line was extremely rude, barking out instructions to all and sundry - mind you some of it was necessary as for many, it was obvious that this was their first time taking a flight as they hadn’t a clue as to what to do. We had to wait as they divested themselves of various articles of clothing or had water bottles taken off them and thrown to one side - which of course lead to protests from the unsuspecting passenger and arguments between them and yer man and I began to feel a bit sorry for him. Mind you he needn’t have been so rude when I asked him if I had to take out my iPad - after all, different airports have different rules for them. And I had it out in seconds. The whole experience seemed to take forever with several muttering on our part of “There’s always one!” :roll:

We then proceeded to Passport Control which was precisely ten steps away and was manned by one person with a small podium. He was happy and cheerful and so pleasant to deal with after the ordeal of security. He took our passports and crossed our names off from a list! None of this new-fangled scanning for him! I jokingly complained that I wasn’t getting an Ethiopian stamp on my passport and he laughed along with me and basically cheered me up! The good news was that we were in the departure area but the bad news was……

…….. well read on, dear friends!

The place was jointed! Absolutely chock-a-block! :eek: J whispered to me that it would be a very full flight but to my mind the number of people present was far too much for one flight and I said so. We managed to find two seats together and shortly after, the man next to me looked at his boarding pass and on it I could see a boarding time 30 minutes ahead of ours. Phew! I was right. However, there was another problem. There was a constant drip! drip! drip! And it was on us! There was nothing for it but to relocate. We managed to find seats in the central area and just after we settled the PA clicked on and a totally unintelligible call for a flight was made - unintelligible because the person making the call was far too near the microphone. However when it was repeated the words “five hundred” and “Washington” were heard. Well not us then! We watched as people thronged to the roped area and smiled at a couple of red ropes and carpet which seemed to indicate priority boarding but no-one was using it. Boarding seemed to be very slow and we opined that they were crossing off names on a list. Eventually the queue came to an end and we settled back to await our boarding call some five minutes hence. Ha! Not so! Once the line came to an end the staff overseeing the boarding process suddenly started careering all over the departure area like headless chickens demanding “Washington?” “Washington?” They made several forays towards the security area and returned each time with a family or a group of people trotting after him! This scene was replayed over and over again but occasionally someone who had been sitting in the lounge would get up and stroll over to the gate area! At one stage we had watched a lady get up, arrange her hair in a hairnet and sort out her carry-on baggage before sitting down again. Some twenty minutes later she got up and strolled over to the gate! “There’s always one!” :roll:

While all this was happening we were also taking in the whole departure area. In front of the roped-off gate area were two monitors and every westerner who came into the area went to look at it only to be disappointed as they only showed ads. That was a pity as the announcements were extremely unintelligible. The most amazing thing about it though was the absolutely lack of facilities, no food, no bar and most importantly no toilets!!!! God knows what would have happened if someone needed them! :eek:

The Washington flight eventually closed an hour later and some 30 minutes after our boarding time. Well if it were to be anything like the Washington flight we were going to be fine and late into Dublin, not that that was going to inconvenience me as I knew there were plenty of trains to connect to the bus I needed to get home. Incidentally, I should say that in the all of this J showed the same philosophical attitude to me over what was going on and indeed we laughed and joked at the panorama of the travelling public spread before us!

Finally our flight was called (as indistinctly as the other flights!) and we headed for the roped in area. However they chose to board according to zones and we were in zone 5. As we waited it gave us a chance to look at the profile of our fellow travellers. There seemed to be an equal amount of African and American passengers with a smaller proportion being Irish (although any of the former groups could easily have been travelling only as far as Dublin). As we waited for our zone to be called we were joined by a young American man, I’d guess in his thirties. He asked if we’d flown with Ethiopian before and when we had told him only from Durban he said he had flown with them seven times and proceeded to instruct us in the operations of the flight:

Him: The flight stops in Dublin
Me: Yes, I know
Him: And you have to get off there
Me: Yes, I know
Him: And you have to take off all your hand luggage
Me: I was going to in any case
Him: They security check the plane
Me: Yes, I know
Him: And re-fuel and re-stock it
Me: Yes, I know
Him: You’ll be directed to a separate area from the passengers leaving at Dublin
Me: No, I won’t. We’re only going as far as Dublin

He looked like a balloon being deflated and there were several chuckles from passengers who had heard this exchange as he had obviously riled more people than me with his superior knowledge prior to this interlude.

Finally our zone was called forward and having had our names crossed off the list by the gate agent (None of this new-fangled scanning for him!) we boarded our bus. As it was awaiting more passengers the American guy turned his attention to a group of young Americans who were travelling on to LAX, now identifiable by an information leaflet handed over at boarding for procedures to follow on arrival in Dublin. He was pontificating as he had done with me but one of them asked the question as to whether the Washington flight stopped in Dublin. He said that it didn’t and was a direct flight. Well having been primed by Aer John (as described in my DUB-DXB flight) about operations of Ethiopian Airlines in Dublin and having been annoyed by his supercilious air with me earlier, b*tch that I am, I couldn’t resist it. :twisted:

Me: I’m sorry but I couldn’t help overhearing, but the Washington flight does stop in Dublin
Him: No it doesn’t
Me: Yes it does. It stops to re-fuel as does the Toronto flight
Him: It doesn’t
Me: I’m sorry to contradict you but it does. It parks in a remote area as does the Toronto flight to re-fuel and the passengers stay on board.
Him (aggressively): How do you know this? You told me you had only flown on Ethiopian from Durban
Me: My son works in Dublin Airport and is aware of all the traffic movement there. If you look out when you arrive in Dublin you should see an Ethiopian Airline plane at a far corner of the field waiting to be re-fuelled. (I was praying at this stage that the plane would still be there!)

More chuckles from those who had previously been riled by him!

By this time we had reached the plane and I was looking forward to my flight on the 787 having experienced it on the LHR-JNB-LHR route with VS last year. We headed up the stairs and as we reached the top, a middle-aged Ethiopian lady in full national regalia who had been separated from the rest of the family and was behind us, surged forward to get on board. We told her the plane wasn’t going to go without her but it was obviously her first flight and she didn’t understand the concept of assigned seating and so we let her through. Once on board we were astounded to find that although we were in the same row of seats we were actually both in aisle seats, J in the middle row and me in the three next to the window. We hadn’t noticed that on check-in but why the agent in Durban hadn’t given us a window and an aisle seat in the same row, I do not know. The middle seat was empty and it would have been so much easier to share the middle seat with a niece than a stranger (although she was lovely - the stranger, that is)

Boarding was much quicker than the aforementioned Washington flight and soon we were taxiing to the runway - albeit nearly an hour late - when there was a bizarre occurrence. A man got up and strolled up the aisle, through the galley and down our aisle and stopped to speak to an old lady who may or may not have been his mother, and then strolled back again. :shock: If that had been on a European or American airline the crew would have been screaming at him to remain in his seat but the crew on this flight took no notice at all. Perhaps they knew how long the taxi would be to the runway, but really….! As we were taxiing, the safety video was started and on this flight we had PTVs - well of course we had. We were on a 787! Or were we? The video began “Welcome to this Ethiopian Airlines flight to Dublin and Washington on a Boeing 777-200 plane” What!? 777-200! They’d got it wrong. After all, the booking page, the website and everything had said we would be on a 787. I whipped out the safety card and there it was in black and white. We were on a 777-200 series. Boll*x and other naughty words that I shouldn’t really know! Ah well!

Once airborne, the crew came round with what were meant to be hot towels followed by the meal service. No drinks round before dinner then. The choices were pasta and what the crew called lamb but I saw mutton on the label. It’s decades since I ate mutton and I really didn’t want to revisit those days and the lasagne had been OK on the flight from Durban so I chose the pasta. The drinks trolley followed and, as on the previous flight there was NO GIN! Nor any spirits for that matter for economy class. Ah well, the red wine was passable which was more than could be said for the pasta! It was awful and the kindest way I could describe it was a bad Pot Noodle (if there’s ever such a thing ass a good Pot Noodle!). I had a couple of mouthfuls of the Pot Noodle (it would be an insult to pasta to call it that) and gave up. :cry: I really wasn’t that hungry fortunately. There was a fruit salad type of dessert but I passed on everything but requested and received another red wine before settling down for the night. Oh, yes, the IFE. It wasn’t too bad and the selection was better than Emirates, mainly because they weren’t trying to cater for so many markets. However my default mode on flights is the flight map but I had difficulty in accessing it but the delightful Ethiopian girl in the window seat helped me. We got chatting and she told me she was heading for Dublin and that she worked for one of the charities that one sees on television at lunchtime or early evening about aid for Africa. Hers was about blindness and she was going to report back on the progress made. After the meal she raised the armrest between her seat and the middle seat and stretched out to sleep. Well I couldn’t nor wouldn’t begrudge her that - she was probably going straight into work whereas I had the whole day at my disposal.

After the meal service had been cleared I settled down and tried to sleep but I really couldn’t get comfortable (and without gin I probably wasn’t sufficiently anaesthetised!) Sleep eluded me and so the iPad was my friend (as was the USB port beside the IFE which ensured that I maintained my charge!) Eventually the cabin began to stir and breakfast was served which was basically orange juice, a roll and last night’s fruit salad. I had the orange juice and the roll as well as coffee which was actually quite good. Oh, yes, somewhere along the line when I was visiting the loo, there had been a hot towel run but I hadn’t realised it until I tried to pick up one when they were collecting them. The cabin crew said she would bring me one but didn’t! At that stage I wasn’t surprised.

At long, long last we were approaching Dublin. We had been scheduled to arrive at 5.15am but because of the chaos for the Washington flight it was nearly 6am before we landed. As we taxied in to the airport, oh bliss, oh bliss!, not only was there one Ethiopian Airlines plane at a remote area of the field, there were two!! The Toronto flight must have been in first! I just hope that Mr Know-it-all had seen them. We taxied into a stand in T2 but not into the main bank of gates but one nearer T1. As we disembarked and descended into the main airport area there was a staff member calling and indicating “Los Angeles to the left, Dublin to the right. Los Angeles to the left, Dublin to the right.” We were also told to show our boarding passes and there was a staff member there to check them but at that hour of the morning I was disinclined to root around in my handbag for it but I just wafted past, passport in hand and no-one said me nay. We followed the signs to baggage claim and I was getting a bit niggly with the route that we were taking and sure enough we arrived in the baggage claim area of T1. I recognised it immediately as in my days of full employment I had gone through that area more times than I would care to remember when I had meetings in Dublin. This of course posed problems for us as J’s partner who was to meet us had seen on-line that the flight arrived in T2 and so was waiting there, so there was a series of phone calls before he arrived to pick us up. At one stage I had said to J that I would take the Airlink bus to the train station an hour away as I wanted to catch the 8am train home to link with the bus home but her partner insisted on driving me there even though we would be by-passing their home. Our route took us past the remote part of the airport where at this stage one of the Ethiopian Airlines planes was still in situ - so there, Mr Know-it-all!

We arrived in the train station where it would have been possible for me at a push to catch the 7am train but I decided against it. I bought my ticket, had something to eat in the station concourse which was far tastier than on the plane and in the fullness of time, caught the train, selecting the seats that would allow me to charge my various devices. The train journey was uneventful, as was the bus home and at last my marathon journeys were at an end.

A few days later someone asked me how many miles I had travelled from April 6th to April 21st from door to door. Calculating the miles door to door on the flights to include bus and rail journeys but not travel in between, it came to 22,791 miles give or take a few!! :shock: :shock: :shock:
#921604 by whiterose
19 May 2016, 17:54
Epic HL, a wonderful read, loved it all, you make us all feel we're there with you. I so enjoy the repeats, the no scanners, the Mr Know it all, you make it all such a fun read even though it was anything but that. And No Gin. Don't they know who you are? As someone of similar vintage, I applaud your stamina in coping with all the set backs and (on your scale) mini disasters.

An unhappy occasion for you, yet you've made it entertaining for all of us. Thank you.
#921606 by pjh
19 May 2016, 19:33
Full of the enthusiasm and observation that you.we know and love. Thank you.
#921613 by TimCrawley
19 May 2016, 22:11
Thoroughly entertaining TR, thanks so much for posting - it was well worth the wait to read it.
#922447 by ColOrd
05 Jun 2016, 23:41
What a funny TR HoneyLamb, I do like reading yours. I didn't realise you ever traveled in Economy!

I've often seen the Ethiopian flight to Addis Ababa leave from DUB when I have been waiting for the BA flights which seem to leave from the next set of gates across and I've often wondered what the service would be like...I think I shall pass on travelling with them. ;-)
#922488 by honey lamb
06 Jun 2016, 22:40
ColOrd wrote:What a funny TR HoneyLamb, I do like reading yours. I didn't realise you ever traveled in Economy!

I've often seen the Ethiopian flight to Addis Ababa leave from DUB when I have been waiting for the BA flights which seem to leave from the next set of gates across and I've often wondered what the service would be like...I think I shall pass on travelling with them. ;-)

I do travel in Economy regularly on my Aer Lingus (and other) short-haul flights but, you're right, I don't usually travel in Economy long-haul. However, if you read my trip reports in the Other Trip Reports forum in sequence starting with Chicago, you will see that I had to book a flight to South Africa the day after my arrival from that esteemed city hence the Economy flight. Over a four day period I set foot on four different continents!!

Your comments reminded me of a facet I had omitted from this TR. On disembarking at Dublin we passed through the Business cabin. The seats were in 2-2-2 configuration and resembled the seats Emirates use on their 777 fleet in Business. However directly in front of each seat and up against the seat in front was a contraption which could best be described as a row of pigeon holes which looked like they had been knocked up by a pupil in his first woodwork class in school. This was topped by a padded red leatherette "cushion". Presumably the function was a) to store one's belongings; b) to create some semblance of a flat bed!; c) to allow someone to perch on it similar to the ottoman in UC but it looked a lot less functional for that purpose.

It looked weird - but then what would you expect from an airline that had NO GIN!!!
#922494 by Snora
07 Jun 2016, 07:57
oh my !! the UK Health & Safety bods would have a field day in that airport with all that water everywhere ! and I actually did cringe when you talked about walking barefoot on the carpet ! What a journey.. no gin ! ... you do know that Mr Know It All is now adding your information to his repertoire ... so his boring conversation is now even longer !!
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