Nationwide Airlines…

I thought I’d share with you my mommy darling’s recent adventure…

These days travel at best, is frenetic and tiring. The pace is hurried, there are deadlines and dear ones to meet. So many people are affected by the departing and arriving of passengers.
Our expectation is that everything will go smoothly, according to the scheduled times, given the careful requirements of air traffic in and on the air ports around the world.
My experience was just the opposite. Almost third world. Is it because I chose the most economical flight I could find at the time I made the booking – ‘goedkoop is duurkoop’? Did I just luck out on the choice of airline? Are the logistics so poor at the airports? Is Nation Wide the only one with problems?
We will almost certainly never get to the truth of the matter.
The fact is that from the time I left home to the time I eventually landed at Durban, I could have driven by car anyway. Why do we fly? TO SAVE TIME! The crew is very quick to say they hope there has been no inconvenience caused by their delayed flight. Of course the inconvenience goes much further than the people waiting to pick you up at the airport or the business meeting which is scheduled, or the critically ill loved one you need to get to before it is too late. Not to mention the chaos at the airports. For the amount of money spent it is actually a nasty joke.
O R Tambo, Friday night, 18 April, Nation Wide flight departing at 17:40 to Durban was delayed. That is the one I know about because I was on it. When I reached the boarding gate there were people sitting on the floor, looking pretty tired and frazzled. I had no idea how long they had been waiting. So I sat down too as it appeared as if it was going to be a long wait. There were some wonderful people in the queue who bolstered our spirits with their banter. We actually had a very cheerful trip because of the wonderful attitude of some of the passengers! There was a large Scottish gentleman who had us all laughing, bless his heart! Eventually it was announced that my particular flight had to move to a different boarding gate. Off we ambled following like sheep, joking and chatting, to wait again. This appeared to be the order of the day no matter which airline was in use. It’s a shambles – people and their hand luggage, laptops and gifts going from gate to gate trying to catch the correct flight.
Once we all boarded we sat in darkness while the engine that powered the ‘ground electricity’ was jump started. WONDERFUL – this is the service we get from Nation Wide for our money! Finally that was sorted out and we took off for Durban. Apart from the sound system being so poor that we could not hear the pilot’s announcements, all went well, we had landed at 20:30 in Durban. My poor family had waited for and hour longer than planned.
The return flight was no better! It was due to depart from Durban, 20 April, 19:40 back to O R Tambo. I was there an hour before the time only to find that the poor passenger due to have departed at 17:00 had to wait until 20:30!! My heart sank. To my cold little feet. Sure enough, half an hour before I was due to depart they announced that CE443 to O R Tambo would be delayed by an hour. When any of the ground staff was asked why, they said it was due to the rainy weather. (the other airlines were departing on time though). Fortunately I enjoy watching people and the shenanigans around me and I was quite happy to sit and wait. In all that time the people were herded like sheep from one departure gate to the other.
2010 World Cup here we come ……………… or not. Perhaps we should spare ourselves the embarrassment …….
As for those poor passengers who expected to depart at 17:00 – they were still waiting! My flight was called to board at the gate printed on the ticket, no less. An hour later as promised. It was pouring with rain and very cold but they squashed us into the bus and drove us to the plane and guess what? The ground engine was broken and we would have to be patient while it was repaired. Could it be possibly the same aircraft as Friday night? What’s the chance? Horrors! That would mean that the aircraft was not properly serviced!
The trip back to O R Tambo was uneventful. Again we could not hear a word the pilot was mumbling. I was tired but thankful not to be waiting any longer. Surprisingly there were empty seats on the plane – I wondered why the passengers still waiting for the 17:00 flight had not been given those seats?
I do not fly that often. It is such an exciting event for me when I do get to fly! I love the take off and landing. I look forward to the trip with all the anticipation of a child at Christmas. However, this past weekend has convinced me NEVER to fly Nation Wide again. In fact perhaps it would be better if all the cheaper air lines are avoided. I could have driven by car to Pietermaritzburg in the time it took to fly and my husband could have gone with me.
I am sorry to say that I was rather disenchanted with Nation Wide, O R Tambo and Durban airports. I dread the chaos at the air ports when all the guests arrive in 2010.
From now on I will avoid making Nation Wide reservations for all the business travel at work and for my personal use. In future I will check what is available at Lanseria to the major airports for domestic travel and rather pay that much more for peace of mind.
My encounter was annoying, but I have had colleagues who have also had bad experiences with Nation Wide and who have spent hours waiting for flights during a busy work schedule. My experience was just one too many.
Thank you to all those wonderful passengers who keep the spirits up of all around them! You made all the wasted hours worth while.
Thank you to my dear family and all the other patient folk who spend hours waiting to collect weary travellers at their journey’s end.
May all your domestic travel be bright in the future!

2 thoughts on “Nationwide Airlines…

  1. In a similar vein…

    “Hot news from Johannesburg !


    Calm has returned to O.R. Tambo International Airport following the weekend’s shock departure of a South African Airways flight to London – on time, with all its engines attached, and only minimal
    luggage stolen.

    A spokesman for the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) said that staff was receiving counseling after the shock take-off of the SAA Boeing 747, but that many employees were still ‘confused
    and angry’. According to ACSA, those heaviest hit by the freak departure were the baggage handlers.

    ‘Many of them are feeling deeply hurt that the plane got away before they had time to carry out the traditional pre-flight baggage integrity sweep’, said a spokesperson. ‘Many of our staff depend on this sweep to put bling on their family’s table.’

    She added that while the sweep was not officially encouraged, since it involved cutting open baggage with industrial angle-grinders and searching for valuables, there was nothing ACSA could do to stop it.

    ‘Asking us to stop baggage theft would be like asking us to introduce minimum employment standard in our hiring process,’ she said. ACSA currently requires all job-applicants to have a pulse, and to be able to write their name, or indeed any name, on an application form.” “

    The totally sick thing about this? I received it from an American friend who received it from one of his fellow countrymen.

    South Africa’s airports have an unpleasant global reputation.

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