Kilimanjaro Trek – Getting there.
After much anticipation the day to head off for my Kilimanjaro Trek adventure finally arrived. As usual I was organised and had plenty of time in hand. In fact I was pretty much a whole day early, which even by my standards is a little excessive. With a day in hand I did a little work at home, chilled for a while and then set off towards Manchester where I had a Premier Inn room booked for the night. I had to be at the airport for 6am the following morning.
I stopped at Cheshire Oaks for some retail therapy. Shoes from Skechers and a present for Anna and Morgan from the Lindt store. That was me another step ahead with presents bought before I’d left!
It was then on towards Manchester and the Premier Inn. Dinner in the Beefeater next door and then a fairly sleepless night in a typically clean, quiet and comfortable room. My airport parking for the week was literally 50yds away so after a 5am coffee and shower I had a 10 second drive from one parking space to another and was immediately on a minibus to the airport.
No queues at check-in so it was off to security in no time at all. That was fairly painless as well except for the fact that my back support that I was wearing triggered some alarms and resulted in a fairly thorough frisking.
All OK though so it was off to departures for a coffee, croissant and a wait. It wasn’t too long and I was soon on the most comfortable economy class airplane I’ve seen. I had a window seat, loads of legroom and a whole 3 seat row to myself. There were cushions and blankets and more entertainment options than I knew what to do with. The airplane even had various external cameras so I could watch the view from all different angles. 3741 miles to go, destination Dubai as I left a grey, dreary and wet Manchester behind.
I had free text messaging whilst on the plane too so was able to stay in touch with Anna. The films were good, the food was nice as were the views.
Everything was on time as we landed in Dubai just before 8pm local time. Perfect.
But….. that’s where my luck ran out. I followed the signs for the connections desk, went through security and tried to get my boarding pass for my Dubai-Kilimanjaro flight. The flight didn’t exist! Apparently it hadn’t for a while and there were no flights at all to Kilimanjaro from Dubai anymore. Quite why nobody had told me this earlier I don’t know. I had a ticket that had details of the flight on it but there was no flight. Nobody had told me this fact before I left. Nobody in Manchester told me when I checked in. My baggage claim slip that they printed for me when I checked in at Manchester even had Kilimanjaro Airport printed on it. But it was not to be.
After much frantic Internet searching and phone calls to Emirates call centres by myself, and Opodo by Anna in the UK, a new plan was hatched. It wasn’t ideal, it had taken 4 hours to sort it and it meant forking out money for new flights but on paper it would work.
There was a flight out of Dubai into Nairobi at 10:25 the following morning. I could then fly from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro on yet another flight which would get me to Kilimanjaro at around 6pm local time. That would mean losing a day of my holiday but should get me there in time for the trek.
That’s where I stand at the moment as I write this, waiting in Dubai for the flight to Nairobi. I did try to get some sleep in a sleeping pod for a few hours.
Again, as with the extra flights this was at my own expense as no one seemed to want to accept responsibility for the non-existent flight. I couldn’t afford a hotel so a sleeping pod had to do.
Needless to say I didn’t get any sleep but it was at least quiet and comfortable for a few hours. I was worrying about what would happen next. Will I and my luggage make it to Kilimanjaro on time? I haven’t seen my luggage since I checked it in Manchester. Which means I don’t have a wash kit or any spare clothes with me. What will I do if my luggage doesn’t make it to Nairobi? I have to collect it in Nairobi go through customs and then check in from scratch when I’m there. What do I do if I can’t do that? So many things to worry about now that my carefully crafted plans to choose the perfect (easy) flights had fallen apart. I was also a little annoyed about it all as it was costing more money and kind of getting my dream trip off to a bad start.
I still don’t understand how Opodo could have sold me fights that didn’t exist or why no one told me earlier. Why didn’t Emirates tell me, the flight was listed on their tickets. Why hadn’t AirDubai, whose flight it was supposed be tell me? Why did no one tell me at check-in? And why wouldn’t they cover the cost of the additional flights or the hotel? Emirates say they can’t do anything as it was an AirDubai flight. AirDubai refuses to help as they say they cancelled the flights weeks ago and told the booking agencies about it. I’m not sure what Opodo have to say about it yet. I guess we’ll have to fight those fights when (if) I get back!
Also a little worrying was the fact that when I exited my sleeping pod almost everyone except me was wearing surgical face masks! Had there been an escalation of the coronavirus that I didn’t know about?
I guess there no point worrying too much. There’s nothing I can do now except continue trying to get to Kilimanjaro in time. This time via Nairobi! Fingers crossed as something tells me this isn’t over yet. I’m currently not that confident of even getting me and my kit there on time let alone making it to the summit.