Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Daktari - an update
If you are under the age of about 75 "Daktari" will mean nothing to you, to be honest I had to dredge it up from the darkest recesses of my mind - which could really do with a blat round with a duster. Anyway, Google it if you care, it's tenuous at best but ever so slightly more interesting than "An update" as a title post.
If you read my last post you will know that Steve has embarked on the first of his 50th Birthday celebrations and left on Sunday to fly to Nairobi before flying onto Kili to eventually, after much driving around in jeeps with armed men looking for marauding wildlife in the name of "acclimatisation".
Unfortunately because Steve elected to book his flights with Carlton Leisure who will henceforth be referred to as "shonky bastards without a leg to stand on", most of the above failed to happen.
Steve had booked a 4pm flight from Manchester to Heathrow. His next flight was at 9pm from Heathrow to Nairobi arriving at 8am on Monday. He had a flight booked from Nairobi to Kili at 10am. Steve arrived at Manchester airport to discover that the flights he had booked back in March had been removed from all flight schedules on the 29th May and Carlton Leisure had not bothered to contact him to let him know. They didn't even think to mention this when I rang them last month to book him an aisle seat on the long haul flight, in fact Eric confirmed the row and seat number that he had booked for me and assured me there would be no charge, shonky bastards.
They tried to wriggle out of it but the man on the BA desk was having none of it and at this point BA were marvellous and a huge help to Steve. They booked him onto the next flight to London - unfortunately that was at 8am on Monday morning and then the subsequent flight to Nairobi which was at 10.20am on Monday arriving in Nairobi at 9pm. This was too late for Steve to take his next flight onto Kili so on Sunday evening he was sat in a hotel at Manchester airport contemplating a 14 hour overnight stop in Nairobi airport. I spent much of Sunday afternoon phoning people in Nairobi to let them know that Steve wasn't going to be arriving when they were expecting him and trying to organise accommodation in Nairobi, including reading a review of one hotel on TripAdvisor where apparently the doormen rather than being liveried had AK47's slung around their necks!
In another massive stroke of misfortune Steve booked the flight from Nairobi to Kili with Edreams. They have a premium rate phone number that charges £1.53 a minute if you want to speak to anyone. You get put through immediately and then straight onto hold. On the first phone call I spoke to someone after 10 mins, who put me on hold for another 8 mins and then just as I got through to the person who could change the flight I got cut off. It took another 20 minute phone call to change his flight from Monday am to Tuesday am. A grand total of £61.20 in phone calls alone.
Steve had booked everything after his arrival in Kili with a Company called Africa Travel Resource and throughout this entire debacle they have been absolutely fantastic. I had emailed Steve's contact there on Sunday afternoon and the very first phone call I received on Monday morning was from him. He did a run through of the things I had managed to change and instantly organised a driver to meet Steve at Nairobi and take him to a hotel in Nairobi so he wouldn't have to stay overnight in the hotel. I managed to catch Steve very quickly between flights to let him know he was to look for a man with a sign with his name on it at Nairobi and everything was in hand.
He was due to land in Nairobi at 7pm our time so I assumed I would hear from him by 8pm to say all was well and he was en route to the hotel. Instead I rang him at 8.30pm only to find that whilst he was now in Nairobi his luggage wasn't, and it wouldn't be arriving until 9pm local time the following night. You can imagine just how pissed off he was at this point and I did actually text him to say sod it, get your credit card out and book a flight home if you want the whole bloody thing had been a shambles. Steve decided not to go with my complete over reaction and asked if I could do him one more favour - could I ring Edreams and change his flight from Tuesday am to Wednesday am!! I did and yet again another 20 minute phone call ensued and again at least 15 minutes of this was spent on hold. I have since googled Edreams and it would seem that £90 in phone calls would be considered getting off lightly by the father of the young girl stranded in South America because she had booked her flights with Edreams and they hadn't actually booked her onto any flights, in spite of charging her card for her tickets and the many, many others with similar stories.
So just so you are all clear - Carlton Leisure and Edreams - don't touch them with a barge pole!
His luggage did turn up last night and was collected from the airport and delivered to him at the hotel by the driver organised by Africa Travel Resource - whilst he enjoyed a much deserved beer in the bar!
Steve rang me at lunch time today and he was sat eating a packed lunch with his driver enjoying views out across the Ngorongoro crater and the hassles and traumas of the last 3 days seemed like a life time ago. He even said that the flight to Kili on the tiny plane that he had been so scared about was fantastic!! He spent the entire time taking photos of the snow capped top of Mount Kilimanjaro - let's hope a small plane flies over when he is on the summit so he can take the photo in reverse too!