Author Archives: Michael Otieno

ByMichael Otieno

Changes in baggage policy that will affect how you fly

The month of March as if by co-ordinated conspiracy has seen a number of policy changes in air travel in the region and abroad.

While justified in some respects, these changes affecting air travelers brought to mind two things; one being the conditioning theory of learning by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov and the other being the old-time adage of the boy who cried wolf for his amusement.

Like every industry in the past decade, travel has experienced radical changes. And they almost always affect travellers.

The latest, though seemingly unrelated — specifically pertaining to baggage rules and handling procedures — are certainly bound to have an impact on how the region’s frequent flyers plan for their travels.

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ByMichael Otieno

Of shrinking airline seats and reduced legroom

My invitation for the St Patrick’s Day celebration came with a concise instruction — wear something green.

It didn’t say anything about being prepared for green food, green beer and pot-still Irish whiskey. The invite revealed very little about the evening ahead, which I found was filled with insights into Irish culture and lifestyles.

The thing about having everything Irish in one room is that sooner rather than later aviation talk will come up. The Irish consider themselves the godfathers of aviation. And who can hold that against them?

Whether by coincidence or suitable geo-location, Shannon Airport in Ireland was the key entry and exit point for all transatlantic flights back in the day.

The world’s first duty free shop was established at the same airport in 1947, and Ireland boasts of some of the oldest, largest and most successful airlines in Europe, like Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Norwegian Air International (yes, Norwegian Air is Irish).

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ByMichael Otieno

Female aviators face turbulence

On March 8, the world marked International Women’s Day with media focus on women achievements, accompanied by calls for gender equality that are usually voiced on such occasions.

In the aviation industry, airlines went out of their way to showcase the female professionals in their fold, particularly singling out the few working in traditionally male-dominated departments like flight operations and technical areas.

It was as if they were all striving to be heard above the din of “We too have females doing more than handling reservations and being cabin crew.”

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ByMichael Otieno

Dealing with a death on board

A few weeks ago, this column covered some conditions for flying while ill owing to the high number of Africans seeking medical treatment abroad.

One reader, while giving feedback on the article, said how they flew a terminally ill family member back home to prevent a death overseas and avoid the cost of transporting a dead body.

Expectedly — not for the family though —  the passenger’s condition deteriorated hardly two hours into the flight.

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ByMichael Otieno

Effects of closed airspace on Africa

While making his opening remarks at the just concluded Africa Aviation 2017 conference in Kigali, President Paul Kagame threw his weight behind the Africa Open Skies crusade.

But he wasn’t just lending a voice to a cause that’s been much talked about — with little progress made towards its achievement — by African states, Kagame was also letting his peers know that his government was actively working with others who are willing to liberalise African airspace.

The highlight of his opening address was when he asked why an African travelling to another country within the continent should transit outside the continent, a question that left many policy makers hanging their heads in shame.

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ByMichael Otieno

Plan ahead for your holiday gear

Victoria Falls, the majestic Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders) sits pretty between two city airports — Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport, formerly Livingstone Airport in Livingstone town in southern Zambia, and Victoria Falls International Airport, in northern Zimbabwe. The falls is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The two airports are just 25 minutes apart by air and compete for visitors to the natural wonder on the River Zambezi.

Victoria Falls was named after the queen of England by explorer David Livingstone, who also lent his name to the town and island on the river.

While Livingstone Airport is the closest to the waterfall, Victoria Falls Airport got an edge after a recent facelift and renovations gave it a new four 4 kilometre long runway and a new terminal, increasing its capacity to nearly 1.7 million passengers annually.

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ByMichael Otieno

Speak English? Welcome aboard

Tel Aviv International Airport, also called Ben Gurion Airport, is known for its stringent security procedures, and has over the years emerged as the best airport in the Middle East and one of the most secure in the world.

There is no last-minute check-in option at Ben Gurion, and it is recommended that you reach the airport at least five hours before your flight, to clear with security ahead of check-in.

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ByMichael Otieno

Yes, you can fly with your pet…

Last week, an interesting picture of falcons in an aircraft cabin was shared widely online.

As with all content that goes viral, the spinoffs from the picture were hilarious and clever: “Saudi prince brings 80 hawks on plane,” “Raptors on board,” “Magnificent birds of prey take flight.”

The picture was not that strange, considering the appetite for exotic pets in the Middle East region.

Before the falcons, there was a picture of an Emirati man and his cheetah taking a drive in a luxury car.

Falconry is a traditional hobby for the rich in the Middle East, and most if not all carriers in that region accept their transportation in the cabin if the paperwork meets their requirements.

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ByMichael Otieno

Conditions for flying while ill

Forecasts for the global medical tourism market predict a growth of at least 18 per cent over the next decade, to reach about $99 billion by 2025.

Per these reports, some of the leading global medical tourism destinations are Singapore, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mexico and Costa Rica, with Thailand and India taking the lead in having the largest number of accredited medical facilities.

India, which is listed as a top destination for Africans seeking treatment overseas, is poised to more than double its medical tourism market from the current $3 billion to over $8 billion by 2020.

Just to bring it closer home, by 2015 East Africans were spending about $1 billon on medical treatment in India.

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ByMichael Otieno

Flying with kids need not to be a stressful experience

I have never seen a child on a leash. So you can imagine what crossed my mind when I saw this kid, hardly three years old, on a “child leash” aboard an aircraft.

The kid on the leash was dishing out terror in the aisle with ease, only limited by the restraint.

At the other end of the leash was a bloodshot-eyed middle aged male who appeared beat. He looked like he was about to give up on life itself.

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