DON’T CODESHARE IF YOU ARE NOT READY FOR IT
(Posted 17th June 2018)
The Gold Standard in the industry for code shares between a full service airline and a subsidiary or associate low fare airline has been established by Emirates and FlyDubai, and it works and others are implementing it in the interest of their full fare passengers not being duped into anything worth less, two words!
Passengers booked on their first sector on an Emirates flight and transferring on to a code shared FlyDubai flight, in both classes of travel – FlyDubai on their fleet of B737-800NG’s offers both Business Class and Economy Class – can enjoy their full baggage allowance, earn miles and most importantly, when on a FlyDubai sector do not have to pay for meals and beverages. The manifest the operating crew gets spells out those passengers and flags them and their seats so when the cabin meal service comes down the aisle, the crew know what to do.
Also, notably and again Gold Standard, can one check in online for all outbound and inbound journeys from the comfort of one’s home, hotel room or office without then having to queue and wonder what less preferred seat the system then spits out.
Why am I making such a fuss over this, well read on.
A few days ago I attended an aviation conference in Cape Town and for the first time did my advance online check in give me problems, first for my journey from Nairobi to Cape Town via Livingstone and then on the way home for the second leg to Entebbe.
The Entebbe Nairobi check in was easy, I could change my seat to a more preferred forward position but for the second leg the system showed the flight as full with no option to change my seat. Well I thought, good for Kenya Airways, no? NO … on boarding it was promptly clear that the leg to Livingstone was way down from full house and even when the passengers boarding from Livingstone to Cape Town – many Nairobi originating travelers got off in Livingstone – there were again plenty of empty seats in the Embraer 190. Why I could not change seats on check in then, which was done almost exactly at the moment the online platform allowed for it, will forever be a mystery I suppose.
My flight experience will be described on TripAdvisor as I normally do, so little else needs to be said here other than I have seen better flights.
Come to the end of the conference and my attempt to check in online for my flights from Cape Town to Nairobi and onward to Entebbe.
Again, the first leg, I was on one of the just launched nonstop services operated with one of the younger B737-800NG’s was problem free, I changed my seat to my preferred position and that was that – click on the second leg.
To my consternation did the system not accept check in online for KQ8520 and on closer inspection it turned out that it was a codeshared flight operated by Jambojet, a 100 percent subsidiary of Kenya Airways. Whoever booked my ticket perhaps thought they do my a favour by getting me into Entebbe an hour and a half earlier than the next KQ flight would reach there but alas, the intend was defeated by the agony and indignity suffered along the way.
We, KQ staff at CPT included, tried again to check in for that sector at the airport in Cape Town but even they were defeated by the stubborn rejection of the ‘system’ which simply would not allow them to get me a boarding pass for no less than a KQ flight numbered service.
In hindsight I am double glad that our flight got into Nairobi 45 minutes early because the ordeal which awaited me on the ground at JKIA would have had me miss the flight given the gauntlets and traps laid along the way.
First, arrival security control at JKIA had ONE, yes ONE station operating and the queue kept growing and growing by the minute, of departing passengers from Nairobi being screened alongside more connecting passengers from flights just landed. By the time I reached the front of the queue three other stations had just opened, and of course those coming last were served first causing audible curses and comments from those who had stood in line for long.
Next, in addition to the regular and often mind boggling stuff one sees at security checkpoints, I was asked to remove my scarf, which in the worst of scenarios did not resemble a weapon and anything of metal below would have been captured by the scanner. Well, given the short fuse security agents have these days and the gusto with which they bundle objecting passengers to interrogation cells for strip searches had me bite my tongue but I think my face told him what fate I wished upon him.
Finally through, my scanned scarf once again tied around my neck I was able to get to the transfer desk of Kenya Airways. There, after enduring another lengthy wait, I was then told upon brief inspection of my itinerary print that I should proceed to Gate 5 as the lady at the KQ counter ‘could not help’ to get me a boarding pass. Pointing at the KQ flight number did not help either but prompted her to say one revealing and one outright s***** thing: One was that their systems are not aligned and she could see my booking on the KQ system but but could not act on it as she had no access to the Jambojet system. Second I was told that Jambojet was wearing pink while Kenya Airways was wearing red uniforms which showed they were different and could I now move to make space for other customers queuing behind me.
I reached Gate 5 after a mile long trek through the entire terminal, exactly half an hour before departure – hence my contention that had KQ 785 not landed 45 minutes early I would have reached Gate 5 after the flight had been closed.
The Jambojet staff, when hearing the story, apologised for the inconvenience of not getting a boarding pass on check in or at the KQ transfer desk, apologized for the long walk and then, lo and behold, I had to go through another security check?!? Thank you but no thank you JKIA and KAA which cannot even hear about this on Twitter as they continue to block me!
Same routine with laptop out, again, shoes off, again, pockets emptied, again and belt buckle removed, again BUT, no one bothered with the weapon of mass destruction around my neck, aka shawl, this time … so much for consistency and training of those deployed to operated the check points.
On board of Jambojet, notably no life vests but a demonstration of how to use the seat as a flotation device, again having me thing of the unthinkable, when the passengers are busy first dismantling their seats before they could escape out of a sinking plane …
And, of course, full fare ticket notwithstanding, I was asked to pay for tea and a snack which on a proper KQ service would have been included.
Clearly is Jambojet not fit and ready to operate a code share services for Kenya Airways along the Gold Standards I prescribed at the beginning and such a venture should therefore be suspended unless the powers that be think it is alright to dupe KQ passengers into a vastly inferior service and make them walk for a mile with an added security check to add insult to injury.
Not the experience I had hoped for and that said, it is my impression that the red carpets Kenya Airways used to have – and for which I profusely complimented them back then – are either undergoing heavy maintenance and are in the hangar being repaired or else they have been sold off to raise money (tongue in cheek) – and going by recent experiences probably been acquired by RwandAir, which beats the KQ experience on all scores for the many flights I took with them over the past year as their red carpets are up and running.