The school has sent me to a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. My workshop will last three days, ending just in time for the week-long October school break. Andreas and Alekka will fly down to meet me on Sunday. We’ll rent a car and drive to Kruger Park, where we have reservations at a safari lodge.
I had a little trouble getting to South Africa. I secured my travel reservations through Expedia over a month ago. I noticed that I didn’t get the usual email confirmation the week before the trip, but I asked another teacher who said she doesn’t always get them when she books with Ethiopian Air; Ethiopian has just started their online reservation service and they are still working out the kinks ( couple of years ago you had to go to the Sheraton Hotel with cash to book a ticket.)
My taxi driver, Yonas, got me to the airport this morning two hours ahead of time. But the lady at the check-in counter said the flight was full, and I wouldn’t be able to get on. Oh no! The conference starts tomorrow morning, and Ethiopian flies only once a day to South Africa.
A group of colleagues going to the same meeting spotted me. Two of them had been told the same thing, but a little persistence had got them seats. The clerk said yes, she’d been able to seat the others, but now the plane was REALLY full (whereas before it had been NOT QUITE full). My principal argued with the lady at the counter and demanded a supervisor. Eventually one came. She wouldn’t budge. The flight was overbooked by 30 passengers, and if there were any no-shows, frequent flyer cardholders would get seated first. I’ll spare you the most boring bits, but I guess it was my lucky day because I did get on that flight at the last minute.
Even though Ethiopian Airlines has the highest airfares per mile in the world, I’ll still forgive them. They are growing rapidly, they are mostly reliable, and the airport is looking good. And they are rightfully proud to be the second airline in the world to buy the new Dreamliner 787. Here’s an article from the Economist about our up-and-coming airline.