Recently we so excited to go airborne aboard Air Zimbabwe, and yes this was our first time experience not just with the plane but on flight and on domestic too.
What was supposed to be an adrenalin filled airborne experience was watered down to just nothing much but a self inflicted expensive pain aboard a relatively old plane which should be actually called Boieng 0.1.
I have heard of stories of dilapidating service provision and lack of confidence in the local airline and here were are an its exactly 6:15am, hr earlier, for check in, (which is normal time anywhere) everything is ticking as expected.
By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
To my surprise its actually check in time, we join the queue and the marshals swiftly attend to us, few minutes before 7am, the actual take off time we are already set for the highly anticipated flight, fastening seat belts and like always, we were snapping shots and quickly sharing them with family and friends on the social network.
My real problems began only when the captain announced that were about to take off and it was imperative that we switch off our cell phones. In fact not only were we supposed to switch off our cell phones but we were supposed to switch off anything that has a power button on it.
The flight attendants made sure that they walk past us too many times reiterating that we should switch off anything, if not everything. This includes disc man , walkman, camera and all hell broke loose when they went for my laptop.
Seriously? You want me switched off? Techies don’t die they simply go offline. But asking me to switch off is tantamount to shooting me out!.
Honestly speaking what will be do doing all the flight, with nothing switched on, imagine a 30min 2hr or 8 hrs flight of just doing nothing, absolutely nothing but sitting and staring into an airbus. To make matters, i did not even have the ugly copy of a magazine my colleague had, so here and there i had to snoop and initiate lame conversation about the dry issues inside the magazine.
Besides the lack of entertainment, i was so sure that they forgot to give us some few eats to munch on, alas a colleague confirmed, “ AirZimbabwe does not even supply you with a 50cent bottle water!”
I could not stand it anymore. I was pissed and impatient and did the unbelievable.
Yes i switched on my phone! It was already on flight mode so at least i had a digital screen full of creative apps to take me out of this very expensive virtual jail cell I had dearly paid for.
It was almost landing time so i made sure i capture every moment recording a clip from the wing side as the plane flapped and switched its arms, adjusting itself for the crucial landing before i heard the same voice warning us against movements and switching on of any devices.
So yes, i did it once on the initial flight, I told myself i could as well simply go under flight mode on my return flight and save my day from the unnecessary boredom .
The return flight was nothing the initial one, first were told the flight was going to be delayed by two hours which unfortunately then took much longer than that.
Its 5:30pm, we are back for check in way too early as we tipped that the return flight always has scandals and your seat can be sold under unclear circumstances should you delay. The actual time for our flight on paper is 7pm so we really did not care much, it was a job well done so we had to take a flight back home.
Only while checking in we were told that the flight was not going to be there anytime soon, “sorry we are delayed your 7pm flight will now take off at 10pm!”
Disappointed, well we thought we could check in and do one or two things to push time, besides there is Free wifi on the airport, so we said its just been extra hours online we have been crying for so three more hours well we could be patient.
The clock hits the 10th hour , two hours before midnight, and another shocker comes in “the flight will still be delayed till 11pm, please bear with us” that’s when i knew that we still had some endurance test to undertake.
The Air Zimbabwe crew did not look troubled at all by the issue, in fact there were shocked why some of us were so furious and insisted that it happens every time with the flight business and implored us to be patient.
Exactly 1:30am, we learnt that a South African flight had come to rescue as the air Zimbabwe was no longer able to make it due to many trips it had t incur connecting unplanned routes in other rescue flights, compromising ours.
Everyone was exhausted and impatient, this i noted also included the South African airways attendants. The girls/women did not have any energy on them to even smile before promptly taking us through the normal flight procedure before take off.
Again they told us to “switch off our lives” before , during and when landing which to me i thought well , i have heard enough of precaution against the unknown, again i switched to flight mode then continued to mind my own business.
“Sir Please Switch off your cellphone” she sharply said. I told her it way before take off the engine has not even started why is she asking me to do so then like a robot she repeated
[quote]Sir Switch off your cellphone[/quote] she addressed me like a terrorist, she was already drawing attention of the whole plane and i was just innocently curios to ask her why it was even important that we go zero radio even on flight mode, but the robot girl repeated even harsher, “ Switch off you Phone!”
I made her win the moment , hit the power off button waited for the take off as i know its the most critical, radio sensitive zone then after takeoff i switched the phone on again all the way till we landed, shocked and amazed at why we need to even switch off everything, i descended the plane a disappointed man.
I took a look at one of the safety flyers aboard plane, it restricted everything electronic including laptops, walkman or discman, (if ever anyone still uses those), camera, nooks whatsoever portable Electronic Device PED had to be switched off..
By the way we were served some snacks and drinks from the South African, Interair plane, that was the only difference between it and AirZimbabwe, oh yes one more thing, Interair has a very fast take off, it shoot off like a jet after a short pre run, besides that the planes are all averagely ugly, (i think they are both Boeing 0.1)
The question is why is it important that we switch off all our PED aboard plane, this was not just an Air Zimbabwe restriction, the South Africans too seem to be singing the same song. I have done enough research into the matter and will come back with the full answer soon.