Ethiopian Airlines fooled us. Last time on board it hadn't looked like an African airline. Everything worked and the plane was relatively new.
This time, boarding time of 0:05 on New Years Eve in Rome had already been moved to 1:00 on the monitors by the time we arrived at the closed, shank end of some dark terminal at FCO where the business lounge was manned (womaned) by a disinterested gum-popping young woman and a man behind a bar with old finger food under plastic. And as always, there was no information (it eventually turned out the delay had been in Stockholm where the plane had to be de-iced).
Everybody has a travel horror story, Bub. Live with it.
Yeah, but I can tell it.
By the time they loaded us up, after 1:00 we knew we were… in an unfortunate situation. A tight connection in Addis Ababa was already blown. And here was a tatty old 757 with torn upholstery in which neither the overhead entertainment system (forget about seatback) nor the reading lights, nor a few of the sixteen seats in "Cloud Nine" worked. So we just slept.
Boarding time for our flight from Addis to Johannesburg was 8:05, our boarding cards told us, and it was an hour past that as we flew into Addis. The prospects, best we could figure, were for a night in Addis with a lost hotel room at JNB and a missed flight to Namibia the next morning (which doesn't operate every day) or at best a number of hours in the Cloud Nine lounge before a routing through Nairobi.
And then, as they opened the door on the tarmac at Addis, the smiling man at the bottom of the stairs instructed us onto this minibus, directly across the tarmac to a waiting 737 and off to JNB. They'd held the flight for over an hour. Delightful. Even the torn upholstery looked better.
Except, naturally, that they left our bags in Addis. So the rest of the day we worked the phones from the U.S. to Namibia with the added challenge that it's a holiday, and this morning we've just missed that flight to Walvis Bay anyway, on the promise that those bags are flying in even now. There is no flight to Walvis Bay before our ship leaves on Sunday. Right now it looks like we'll fly to Windhoek, pick up a car from Avis and drive out to the coast.