Although I am a Belgian myself, returning to your home country after years of staying in West Africa, doesn't go as smoothly as one would assume. In this modest blog, I will attend to some of the situations I encountered in trying to reintegrate into my original culture.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
This is it, I'm off to Belgium!
Because of the civil war going on in Libya, of course no way that I could get an Afriqiyah flight. Too bad, their service has been good enough for me and the price is more than reasonable.
Second option: Royal Air Maroc.
Service? Below average in my opinion.
It is nice that the ticket was rather 'good market' and that I was allowed to take two suitcases along, but the friendliness of the staff was purely below standards.
While checking in at the Kotoka Airport, I noticed that crew members were using a digital camera to take snapshots of everybody's passport. It looked highly unprofessional and even (dare I say it?) privacy-invading.
I don't fool myself, I know that airlines need a lot of passenger's information for 'security's sake'. But using a stupid, cheap photo camera to take a picture of the private information written in my passport? Are you people dumb? What happens to the information, do you just send it by email over the internet? Do you make sure that nobody can steal the camera or makes a copy of the memory card?
Where I was standing, in front of me where two simple stewards (not even part of the checkin crew), taking passports from everybody, flipping the booklet open, getting a stupid Aldi-camera out of their pocket, making a snaphot of the crucial information and moving on to the next passenger.
When it was my turn and I questioned them on the stupidity of this precaution, all I heard was: "other airlines have sophisticated machines to do it at the check in bay, but we don't. We really need your information on the camera or else we can't allow you on board."
I was shocked.
So it was taking my chance in crappy security or... no fly.
But there is more...
Once boarded the plane, we were all sitting three by three, noticing that only have of the plane was being used. Rows and rows of empty seats were behind us. I was sitting between two nice, but big, fellows, and struggling for some breathing space, I moved to one of the empty rows only to be stopped by one of the flight attendants with a strong: "No, these seats are not commercialised".
After take off, it was clear that the crew preferred to use those empty rows for themselves. It was 5AM and they apparently deserved a nap. Great opportunity for yours truly to claim one of the rows as his own bed.
Changing planes in Casablanca was not a big deal. Only, there was no water for sale (or even for free) in the whole airport. Plenty of alcohol in the duty free shops, but no water and the restaurant would not open until noon time.
Once aboard the connecting flight to good old Brussels (woohoo!), it was lunch time. And here is my final complaint: Why would a steward ask me 'chicken or fish', if she would give me fish anyway, disregarding what I would answer?
So, here we go:
S - "Chicken or Fish?"
me - "Chicken please"
Steward hands me the package.
I check the package and notice that it has the symbol of a fish on top.
me - "Excuse me, is this fish?"
S - "Yes, the chicken is finished."
me - "I am allergic to fish."
S - "Sorry, the chicken is finished."
I look at my neighbour, a friendly Moroccan lady who helped me practice my French, and she shrugged her shoulders in a gesture of 'they are always like that'.
So I had a bit of pasta and a dry bread roll for lunch.
Oh, and no movie whatsoever during the whole flight, only that stupid blue screen filled with some statistics of the temperature outside and the distance to the destination, and you can't even turn it off when you are tired of it.