In and out of Transit

Ok, so the last thing I really expected to hear at the BA check-in at Vantaa - exactly one and a half hours before the flight was due to leave was someone telling me that I couldn't board the plane for my flight to Nairobi because I didn't have a bus ticket for my transit out of Kenya.
You know that feeling. That feeling that says this is going to be impossible - the guy behind the desk is certainly wrong because I have a return flight to Kenya - and it was only because I mentioned - yes mentioned that I was going to Arusha that he decided I couldn't travel. Why didn't I just say - OK - forget Tanzania - I'm going to Kenya!

Virgin Atlantic and the African Dawn

Thinking fast under pressure isn't something one looks forward to - especially when so much hinges on me getting there on time - but a wasted flight is a serious waste of money. Think fast. Here then is a brief synopsis of the action movie as it happened. Flight is due to leave at 17:10:
  • 15:38 - Took the silly man's advice - left Eeva with the luggage and went to a hotel in the airport - connected to the internet and booked a bus ticket from Nairobi to Arusha.
  • 15:39 - Online notification - We are processing your request.
  • 15:49 - We are processing your request........
  • 15:50 - Called Seppo - told him it wasn't working.
  • 15:51 - Seppo gets in his car and drives to the local bus terminal office to buy me a ticket
  • 16:15 - Seppo in the queue at the bus terminal
  • 16:20 - Seppo calls and asks me for my flight details
  • 16:22 - The woman at the bus terminal in Arusha calls me on Seppo's phone and asks for them again
  • 16:23 - I get an email from the first contact I made on the internet saying something went wrong with the request and could I try again - heart beat is slowly increasing so I can hear it in my ears
  • 16:24 - Seppo says he took a picture of the ticket and is sending it.
  • 16:26 - I get it - resend to the woman at the hotel help desk who prints it out and I make a dash for the check-in. 
  • 16:28 - Just 2 minutes to spare - the silly man has left and the woman who has taken his place says - relax - your on the flight
  • 16:30 - ticket issued - I say my brief goodbyes to Eeva and I haven't started through the flaming security hoops that can take at least 30 minutes. The gate is at the other end of the airport!
So I made it - and of course the plane was late.
Looking back - and the fact that this mad series of events actually worked out dissolves the trauma into an interesting experience. I have friends - frequent fliers - who always time their check-in to the last moment. I admire them for their confidence but I don't think I'm going to change my habits any time soon.

The face of relaxed security, Nairobi 

The flight from Heathrow to Nairobi was pleasantly uneventful except that I found myself sitting beside an American older man with a fairly deep voice - somewhat effeminate in manner - whom I understood to perhaps be gay.  We chatted as one does - watched action films which I thought were nowhere near as good as the excitement I had just experienced - and slept. In the morning over breakfast we chatted again and I discovered that there had been a divorce - at which point I asked if it had been a mutual amicable agreement with his former wife? 'Oh' - came the reply - 'You thought I was a man?'
Pity I was in the window seat.

In Nairobi I had hours to kill - set about taking photographs - first of airport security offices (apparently) - and then of the men inside who decided to come out and ask questions.

I got lucky with the portraits and that helped me out of a possible rather sticky situation after which I was left free to wander the inside of the airport building and take pictures as I pleased.

One amazing sandwich!

By the time I boarded the bus to Arusha I felt refreshed and fully trained in the art of disarming officials with charming pictures of themselves and a notebook of email addresses to forward them on.

Arrivals, Nairobi Airport