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Emissaries From Nimbus.

Posted on 119 201

Sometimes when you are at an airport trying to get into AlwaysOn wifi and you look up, you might see them. Actually you see him first because he’s always a stride ahead, the leader of the pack. He’s dressed in crisp uniform and shoes shined so studiously that if that dead cow resurrected and saw what has been done to its hide it would have nary a qualm because it would have died for a reason. The reflection on those shoes alone can be seen all the way from Saturn on a good, clear day. A man is his shoes, he seems to know, but he also seems to know that a man is his walk. And his walk is measured and confident because he’s el capitan and because he’s not in much of a hurry even though his kind always seem to be in a haste. But one thing is for sure – the plane is not leaving without him. Because he will be flying the plane. That plane is his. He’s the man in authority; if he doesn’t like you and your loutish behaviour he will not let you into his plane and if you protest and ask him if he knows who you are, he will tell you like Abduwali Muse told Captain Phillip, “Hey! Look at me, look at me, I’m the captain here.”

 

When captains walk, they walk like gods. The gods of the sky. As they strut through airports passengers give way like a modern Red Sea. They never smile, you don’t smile if you can keep a big bird weighing 247,000kgs airborne for over eight hours. Smiling is for people with Instagram accounts. They don’t even look like they have normal bodily functions like sneezing. Or burping. Captains don’t burp. And so they grimly peer at the world from underneath their caps, looking erudite, looking like they have read all the books on aerodynamics. And maybe some on birds. They understand the sky and the science it comes with. And what’s with the aviator sunglasses, you may ask? They have them on because mere mortals shouldn’t look straight in their eyes. How dare you when you don’t know the formula for lift? They drag their suitcases or those fancy leather cases that look like they contain the world’s very secrets. Sometimes I look at those cases and think, perhaps the formula of Coca Cola is kept in there. I also suspect that maybe they could only be containing two bruised apples and a lunch-bar packed by the wife. Or an old dog-eared novel to read when the seatbelt sign goes off. But we will never know, will we?

 

Flanking them is always a knot of flight attendants, walking in stride in a taut parade of synchrony. They are often tall. They are often made up. They are often wearing stockings. They are often beautiful,in the conventional way, but also in the way one might have admired Colonel Gaddafi’s female bodyguards. The word “enthrall” pops to mind. They are often grim, to match the look of the Captains and first officers. They have their noses slightly in the air, because they have to smell the sky before they take to the sky, almost like they can pick the climatic conditions 40,000ft away from earth. They always have on high-heels that click and clack on the airport floor as they all walk in step; the cacophony of the postmodern munus legitimum – if you dig the ancient Roman Empire gladiator duels.

 

The uniform is such a powerful thing, isn’t it? Everybody looks good in it. It shows that you have been put through the rigmarole and emerged triumphant. A uniform shows that you know, it is an emblem of skill. And they own it, together, as they sweep through the vast airports, hardly uttering a word to each other. Emissaries From Nimbus.

 

Take a plane like The Dreamliner. It carries like what, over 240 passengers? That’s 240 people who grew up in different homes in different cities, countries, went to different schools, perhaps even went to jail or are about to go to jail, people who are about to get married or are in the process of a nasty divorce, people who are going to start a new professional life abroad or are coming home to bury their parent or sibling or people who are sick and are going to find out if they have cancer abroad. Or people with babies who are irritable because they can’t figure out why their ears are blocked and they don’t know, yet, that if you swallow it will open up.

 

Now imagine you are the one who has to deal with these people in this enclosed space for something like eight hours.  Okay, you don’t have to imagine because I asked six flight attendants (one male) from different international carriers with a collective flying experience of 47-years, about serving passengers. Here is a classification of us, passengers, according to them, crew.

 

First-Time Fliers.

One flight attendant tells me a story of how during a flight the captain called her to urgently check what the hell was going on in 3L, that’s the door further down the aisle to the end of the plane. She rushed there to find someone trying to open the door. It was an Embraer, a sophisticated plane, she says and it picked that interference and also sent an emergency signal back to Flight Operation Center on the ground as an emergency. She asked the man what he was doing? He said he was trying to use the toilet. She said, “Sir, the toilet is this way, here, let me show you.” When she told me this story I thought, aii, why did she assume the man wanted to use the normal toilets? Maybe he just wanted to pee outside as his culture dictates?

 

That man was a first-time flier. The toilet normally gives them away.  

 

Crew say they normally know first time fliers the moment they step onto the plane because they will submit their passport first and not their boarding pass. I also learnt that they check the boarding passes not to direct you to your seat necessary but to know if you are on the right flight on the right day.  

 

The first time I got on a plane was to Kampala many moons ago. I think it was the great year of the locust. I thought it seemed dangerous that they were allowing all those people to walk in the plane mid-flight. Surely, won’t the plane crash from that human activity? I was terrified. I’d listen to the sound of the engine and if it changed I would start mumbling, “Jesus I accept you as my personal saviour…” because when you accept Jesus as your personal saviour before you die, you go straight to heaven. You don’t even queue, I’m told. Also, I was pressed and I didn’t want to go to the washroom because, first, I didn’t know where the hell it was and when I finally saw the sign I couldn’t get enough guts to walk there because the very act of walking there would have made the plane crash.

 

Apparently flight attendants can tell first time fliers even if they act very composed because they are stiffer. They blink more. They don’t leave their seats. Some can’t eat because they don’t know where the tray tables comes from and they don’t want to ask because they will feel stupid. Some are the opposite, they want to pretend they know, so they force things, breaking overhead lockers, not flushing the loo. First time fliers are easy passengers as long as they don’t try to pee on the clouds.

 

Those who don’t bother listening to the safety announcement.

Nobody really ever thinks that the plane will crash. Not a plane you are in, at least. Those things only happen to other people who have been truants in their lives and refused to eat their vegetables. People who don’t hydrate. But I also always think that should a big-ass plane like an Airbus fall from 42,000 feet, it’s highly unlikely that I will survive. Or the person next to me. Unless he’s made of rubber. Also if you have flown for a bit you always consider the flight safety announcement before take off as background noise. Unless the flight attendant is very striking and this is the only time you can actually stare at her without looking creepy. But you should really stop and listen to the safety announcement so that you know what happens next when the oxygen mask drops down from above your seat. (Put yours on first before helping the children. The children are God’s children, He will help them). Nobody gets on a flight ever thinking that they may end up using a raft. But there are rafts in the plane but you will never know if you don’t listen to the announcements. The attendants know the frequent fliers; they are always doing other very important things during the announcement.

 

The loo is not a living room. Don’t chill there.

A flight attendant told me how there was a time on a flight from Nairobi to Dubai, she noticed that a passenger had spent too much time in one of the washrooms and so she went and knocked on the door. “Mr. Ade?…Sir? Are you okay in there?” And he said petulantly like a teenager, “Leave me alone!” So she left, served someone a glass of wine and gave someone an extra blanket and then went back. “Sir? Is everything all right in there?!” The man said, “Go away!” She pressed her ear against the door and heard sobs. Mr Ade was crying in the loo. But why was Mr. Ade crying in the loo? Who had hurt Mr. Ade? It could have been anything from constipation to heartbreak. The flight was wifi-enabled so perhaps he had gotten a bad Whatsapp message. Mr Ade wouldn’t leave the loo. Nobody could use the loo. The crew consulted with each other; what if Mr Ade was trying to commit suicide by eating all the tissue? Should they inform el capitan?

 

“Mr. Ade? Sir? Do you mind opening the door?”

 

Mr. Ade was quiet.

 

“Mr. Ade?” Knock knock. “Mr. Ade. We are getting worried now.”

 

The door slowly opened and Mr Ade came out. His eyes were the colour of cranberry juice.

 

“Sorry,” he mumbled brushing past the attendant. “I just needed a moment.”

 

Nobody ever found out what made Mr Ade so sad. It remains a mystery. Mr Ade, if you are reading this, God loves you.

 

Also, an unrelated tip: Avoid eating curry before a long flight.

 

The drunks

There are two types of drunks in the plane; the happy drunk and the annoying drunk. The happy drunk is charming and funny and chatty. He will walk to the area where flight attendants dispatch meals from and just lean there shooting the breeze with them, making them laugh with silly stories. He will offer to “wash utensils” or offer to go serve the most problematic passenger in the flight – serve him with pep talk and a side of reality check. He is a good soul. And when they tell him, “Mr. Bett, you have had enough to drink, why don’t you drink some water?” He won’t cause a fuss. Crew love happy drunks. “They make the flights fun and shorter,” one said.

 

Then there is the nuisance drunk. Those who want to grope your breast and when you slap his hand away “Sir what are you doing!?” they say, “Sorry, I was supporting myself, my center of gravity is a bit compromised.” And you will say, “Sir, my breast is not a railing!” And he will say, “No? Show me, then.” That’s not the type of drunk the crew loves. They also don’t like the drunk who starts singing. Mostly because not so many drunk people can sing very well. Plus this is not a concert. Loud drunks that bother other passengers are not popular.

 

I once sat next to a happy drunk who put away so much and snored very loudly, which I didn’t mind as much as him falling asleep on my shoulder because we looked like a couple. The flight attendant kept smiling at me as she passed as if to say, “It’s fine, it’s fine, love is love.”

 

“I know the CEO.”

So crew will not tell you this but nobody in that plane really gives a rat’s ass if you know the CEO of the airline. Or the chairman of the airline. Or the family that owns the airline. So if you tell the crew who are just doing their job that, “I have to have a word with the CEO about service here. I play golf with him,” you sound like someone took away your lollipop. It’s not like when you report the crew for not bringing your water on record time they will be all lined against the wall in the CEOs office and whacked across the ass with a ruler at the end of the flight. Also, there are people in that plane who know the president but don’t say a thing. So, sit down and eat your mixed nuts. All the problems during flights can always be solved amicably without invoking the name of the CEO.

 

Business Class.

There are three types of Business Class travellers, I was told. The first type is the one who bought  his own ticket. It’s a normal thing for him, to buy a Business Class ticket. It’s like you buying 1GB data bundles. He sits quietly. Hardly ever fusses. He opens his laptop and he works. Or watches a movie. Or naps. He will also go to heaven.

 

The second type is the one who got upgraded. Because he knows the next time he might get upgraded is perhaps during the next general elections he wants to soak in this moment. Everything. He will drink champagne and juice and water and eat all the three course meals and have a beer and wine and have nuts and have the bread and burp and say what’s the other option of dessert then have it also and then have the fruit salad and when the crew is thinking he’s surely going to either pass out or have a seizure he asks if they have a “small piece” of chicken pie.

 

The third type of Business Class traveller is the one whose ticket the company paid for because his position allows him to fly Business. He’s mostly a prick, this one. The crew will smell him when he walks in because he smells like trouble and entitlement. He will say things like, “No sparkling water? What kind of an airline is this that doesn’t have sparkling water? Are you guys serious about business?”  (Not any more serious than you are about your hairstyle, sir.)

 

He then settles for still water and when you bring the water he will ask, “Is this Evian?” Crew will say, it’s not, sir, he will say, “I don’t take anything but Evian water.” Then he will sigh as if the normal water might give him cancer. “This is why I fly [insert competitor]! I’m done with this airline.” (Yeah? Does that mean you will do us a favour and jump out here at 35,000ft?)

 

This type of Business traveller suffers delusions of grandeur. He thinks that he’s better than you who is serving him champagne. He will be fussy and insolent. He will wonder why the hell there is no New York Times, which is the only newspaper he reads because God forbid should he read the FT he will develop mumps. He will ask for almonds but when he’s told that there are no almonds but mixed nuts which also contain almonds he will throw his toys from his pram. Never mind that three years ago he couldn’t tell almonds from groundnuts. He snaps at crew. Serving him is like serving a pet hyena. He is no joy.

 

But also there are lots of nice Business travellers whose tickets companies paid for. Those will also go to heaven.  

 

The wealthy.

You will mostly find them in the First Class or Business Class. If it’s Dom Perignon it will be one glass. They will rarely change their drink. They are not extravagant. They will eat light. They won’t demand for almonds. Will never raise their voices. They sit quietly and read a book or watch a movie. They will call crew by name. They will go to heaven.  

 

The guy who always presses the call button.

Do you know what some crew call the flight to Mumbai? The Christmas Tree. That’s because they are always pressing the call button and in a flight the lights up there are constantly lit.  But it’s not a joyous Christmas. They want water, then they don’t want water, they want juice, then the juice is too warm, they want ice-cubes, then they wonder if they can get nuts and then maybe they don’t want nuts anymore, then is this orange juice or apple juice, take it away, I said orange juice, also can they have a glass of wine, then what wine is this? Oh, this wine makes me sleepy, can I have wodka instead? Why is the wodka taking so long? On and on it goes, and the crew run up and down the aisle like hamsters.

 

You know what frustrates the crew? When you press the call button and they rush to you only for you to ask, “How much longer are we from Istanbul?” Or you say, “I kicked off my shoes and now I can’t find them, can you look under the seats for me?” The call button is for when you need help, it’s not a toy.

 

I asked them to categorise the travellers according to race.

It’s not 100% but it’s a generalisation. Please, no knickers in a twist.

 

Indians and Pakistani:

Have you watched Snakes in Plane? These group of guys call attendants auntie and uncle. They demand for everything because they “paid for it.” And they want it now. I’m told that there is a big difference between the flights to Delhi and those going to Mumbai. The Mumbai flight is a nightmare. There is a joke, that when chaps to Mumbai board they ask for a complaint form at the door and when you ask if  there is a problem they say, “No, just in case.” Good news? They hardly write complaint letters. If an Indian writes a complaint letter you deserve it. The Delhi flight , on the other hand, is sunshine. Delhi folk are all for happiness. They have no demands, their chakras are at peace.

The Dutch:

Chill folk. Polite. Just feed them and they won’t bother you.

 

French:

Chill, also. All they want is that you don’t take shortcuts. Serve them their food and wine and have everything in place. Do your job and all will be fine.

 

British:

They are two-faced. They have this thing where they “smile” at you and immediately they pass you the smile is gone. They also like in-flight entertainment. They will hardly complain there and then but three months later you might get a letter of complaint.

 

Americans:

Very friendly. They will talk your ears off. They can overwhelm you if you indulge them. They ask a lot of questions. They want to know about your life. They just want to hang out and shoot the breeze.

 

Japanese:

You will never tell when they are happy or not. Is the problem solved or is it a thorn? They are polite and neat. They are orderly. The put everything back the way it was at end of the flight. Blankets folded, bathrooms clean. They never litter the plane. They clean up after themselves.

 

Chinese:

China route is a headache. If you find one smoking in the loo he will defend himself in Mandarin because he doesn’t know English, but when he’s complaining about something he will suddenly know English. There is a also a way they will treat most black flight attendants.

 

Africans:

A flight full of Africans offers colour and drama. Congolese are “very nice people.” Their flights are problem-free. Cameroon are like the French. Easy to deal with.

 

South Africans (Because SA isn’t in Africa) The typical white South African from Jozi has a scowl. He’s not friendly. He’s like a lone buffalo. The black South African is loud and noisy but he only does that if there is a white person next to him. They say things like, “But why do you serve the white guy before me, ne?” This of course is not meant for you, because you are a fellow African, it’s meant for the white person.

 

Kenyans are quick to tweet and facebook. Abrasive. Always looking for wrong. The crew call Kenyan fliers “hamnanga,” because they start all questions with, hamnanga: Hamnanga, Fanta? Hamnanga hot towels? They will tell you how much they paid when they are angry.

 

Tanzanians:

They will correct the language in the PA system. They will say, “Dadangu, hatusemi hivyo kwa Swahili sanifu…

 

Arabs:

Your can hazard a guess.

 

Nigerians. The food portions are never enough. What will make them really happy is a buffet.

 

Those who come with marriage proposals.

Apparently, and this might come as a surprise to many, but flight attendants are never really looking for spouses during flights. Apparently it’s not a normal flight unless someone asks for a hand in marriage or a date. But I asked one if she has ever liked a passenger enough to go on a date with him. She laughed and said, kinda. I said, kinda as in you went on a date but didn’t sit down or kinda you liked him but didn’t go on a date?

 

She met the passenger on a Sidney flight and they had dinner after.  

 

“What made you have dinner with him later?”I asked. “Was he a happy drunk?”

 

“No. He was cute and he was respectful and during the flight when we were just sitting in the gurney area, he would frequently walk up and make us laugh.”

 

“If he wasn’t cute but he was respectful and he had funny stories would you still have had dinner with him?”

 

“I think I would.”

 

“In that case, you will go to heaven.”

 

“Oh thank you Biko. I appreciate your validation.”

 

Ha-ha.

 

Also, Nigerians want to “marry you for their brother.” What’s that about? “Can I marry you for my broda?”

 

The whiners.

The food is not good. And why are your seats this small? Why is the captain mumbling, if he doesn’t want to speak to us tell him to shush. This is not late night radio. Your headphones are cheap, can’t you guys afford to give your clients good headphones when we pay so much to go to France? Why have we not left the runway yet? Why is it so hot in here? Why are these ice cubes shaped this way? Can’t you guys find ice cubes that are square? I can’t have my whisky with an ice cube shaped this way on principle. Why don’t you keep the bottle of water next to me? It doesn’t make sense that I have to keep calling for water and you pour it into your small cups. Your blankets are too short. If they are not called blankets what the hell are they? I’m an adult, you can’t force me to sleep. (Sir, nobody is forcing you to sleep). Then why do you switch off the lights in the plane? (You can use the overhead lights, sir.) I know where the overheads lights are, I’m not stupid, I have a PhD in Financial Engineering. This is terrible. I can’t remember the last time I was forced to sleep. (Sir, please stop crying, you are scaring your daughter.)

 

Crew also hate it when you compare them with other airlines. When  you say “KQ/Emirates/Qatar would never serve us this plastic for food.” It’s like being in someone’s house for dinner and you keep talking about some food you ate in another house.

 

So what makes a model flier?

It’s actually so simple. It’s also what makes a model human being incidentally: Don’t be an ass. Just be a nice person. Say “please” and “thank you,” they go a long way, much further than your destination. Be kind and respectful. Treat flight attendants like you would want your own sister or brother to be treated. The crew really appreciate you more if you are nice and respectful rather than if you want them to know that you play golf with the CEO. And it costs you virtually nothing.

 

Plus, you might go to heaven.

Ps: The 16th Bikozulu Writing Masterclass is now open. Dates: 5th- 7th Sept. To register please email info@bikozulu.co.ke To buy my book, Drunk, please see the banner above for details.

119 Responses
  • Angela Darcy
    14.08.2018

    Yay! Back to reading..

    1
    • Raha
      14.08.2018

      “Apparently flight attendants can tell first time fliers….”

      24
      • Maruti Khamala
        14.08.2018

        Apparently…..

        1
    • K.P.G.N
      17.08.2018

      Cant wait to fly for the first time 🙂 Ill probably wear my seat belts the whole way..I probably also wont leave my seat until we land

      3
    • Kelsey
      28.08.2018

      Biko haki STOP SLACKING. Where is today’s article. Give us the juice!

      – signed addict ugh.

  • Angela Darcy
    14.08.2018

    Yay! Back to reading

    1
  • FIONA
    14.08.2018

    Hi,Biko.I wanted to buy Drunk,how do i go about it.

  • Cheboi
    14.08.2018

    Sir, please stop crying, you are scaring your daughter.

    13
  • Key
    14.08.2018

    Sounds to me like classes of life. Great read.

    1
  • abdullah omar
    14.08.2018

    there is no flight that doesn’t give me a fright but i liked your compartmentalization

  • ChegeTV
    14.08.2018

    I recall once I was in a plane with a Nigerian and when he was asked whether he would take chicken or beef, the guy reported back “both” and the attendant hesitated, he insisted “both nao”..as you please, sir…very nice piece

    29
  • abdullah omar
    14.08.2018

    “It’s fine, it’s fine, love is love.”it would be fine love if the landing was not Tehran

    9
  • Kui Ngugi
    14.08.2018

    Very funny…my first flight was to South Sudan with a DC3 sharing the seat with cargo and the co-pilot was also the water distributer…any other flight after is luxury.. good read.

    18
  • Earl
    14.08.2018

    The Arab part haha, I have a million guesses to it.

    2
  • Wahito
    14.08.2018

    Ha, pet hyenas … Lol

    2
  • Murithi Murithi
    14.08.2018

    Poor me, i have never boarded a plane, will i still go to heaven Uncle Jacko? Should we set up a support group, maybe? Beautiful read.

    36
  • Angela Darcy
    14.08.2018

    Very good read Biko. Reminds me of my first time flying.

    1
  • I can’t be bothered to listen to the safety announcement anymore. I always think what’s the probability that this plane will go down? And besides, it’s a sink or swim situation these days…if you crash land into some ocean and live, sharks may have you for dinner…you just pray that your plane is not shot down by mad terrorists, or that the pilot has taken their meds and won’t go like, “Ah, a mountain..let’s nosedive into it..”
    Long flights are a bore unless happy drunks are sitting a row behind you. They continously laugh at nothing in particular and get very excited when the plane touches down, and erupt into a hooting clapping frenzy. You need that happy energy in a plane for a longtime.

    15
  • Raha
    14.08.2018

    “Apparently flight attendants can tell first time fliers….”

    1
  • Dottie
    14.08.2018

    York Times, which is the only newspaper he reads because God forbid should he read the FT he will develop mumps
    hahahahahahaha LOL
    Mumbai flight is like Christmas tree#dead….. Biko you are damn hilarious gosh and finally sign like normal water give him cancer mmh….i die hahahahahahahahah
    first i have concluded that you hate mumps,you have nailed it today with this flight story you have said nothing but the truth Biko and the vocabularies i have noted in the story are all on point
    keep up the good work

    6
  • Lily
    14.08.2018

    Ha ha ha ha…..Biko this is interesting. You are even able to tell as they trickle in to check-in.

    Plus, you might go to heaven. Great read!

    1
  • Sophie
    14.08.2018

    Nice read! trying to open the door to the loo, woo!

    Sometimes I have watched the crew try to deal with some nasty passengers it is not fun. Some people have so much bile and being up in the sky brings out the ‘best’ in them. I watched someone demand water, and insist the small glasses do not work as she apparently takes a lot of water. The crew poured 4 cups and promised to pour more when she was done. She kept pressing the button to ask for more till one crew just gave her whole bottle. But guess what? She was pouring the water into an empty bottle. I forgave her, she was expectant. Then there was this dude who was raising hell when requested to switch a seat with a pregnant woman who by mistake had been assigned the same seat. The lady looked like she would burst and going to the very back of the plane did not seem fair. We did the udada support to give the lady a seat, but the bile that man threw at the crew! But Biko how did you fly to Kampala? The last I recall there was no airport in Kampala …just saying.

    18
  • Freddie
    14.08.2018

    Always some amazing refreshing read Biko. And to my cousin, she needs to know I got addicted. She introduced me here.

    1
  • Edward Opany
    14.08.2018

    Haha Hamnanga, I’m not stupid, I have a PhD in Financial Engineering. This is terrible. I can’t remember the last time I was forced to sleep hahaha reminds me of someone I know. Great piece with important lessons in life.

    3
  • Bil
    14.08.2018

    Biko, I love your writing. Makes my day always. You will go to heaven too

    3
  • Michael
    14.08.2018

    Eish, Biko. Nothing about Ugandan fliers?! Or should we hazard a guess..?

    2
    • Victor
      15.08.2018

      Do you Ugandans also fly. On a light note

      4
  • Eunice
    14.08.2018

    Atleast now I know how to behave when(when, not if) I board a plane. Informative Biko. Bless you.

    1
  • Maingi,
    14.08.2018

    Jackshon haha thanks for this read.
    First time fliers are always a laugh. The first time i got in the eagles stomach is some months ago, the cruise was to Kisumu International Airport…and as it’s a norm, i was late. Friendly KQ attendants at the check in booth were shocked to see me pop up within 12 minutes of the flight leaving. I had my boarding pass, handyi in hand, which always made me feel like ‘Aaai si nimelipia, siwezi achwa’….
    I was hurried in, went through those checks (at a point you just stand and wait to be told to do what-not, place your luggage here, remove your shoes…bla bla). I was so green. Those wahindis that would not even seek assistance shuttled me. Look, they are used to this, i would mumble.

    In the KQ Embraer 625 you get ushered in by a ‘Welcome onboard!’, that one settles in your heart’s left ventricle. Sweet. You feel important.

    I finally locate my seat and the safety announcement commences, that is when you don’t want to miss anything. I turned my sound recorder on, I’m not shitting you, i needed to ensure i had a referral afterwards or incase we crush into a thick cloud. ‘Remember its the action of sharply pulling the strap down that rhe oxygen bag will drop….our cruise level is 26,000ft…bla bla bla’ That announcement made me feel corporate and needed.

    And airborne you get, and before we get to cruise level, some Hindi mama wants to use loo, and that’s when i held my head, cause we were still in that inclined state and an old mama wants to go downstream to the loo, i almost thought she’d topple.

    And landing in JKIA is just the most scaring of all.
    Captain Nyaga and your knots of attendants, bless you!

    23
  • Judy
    14.08.2018

    Biko, after all that I believe wengine wakiona heaven kwa Viusasa, passport yako itakuwa ya express!!!

  • Maingi
    14.08.2018

    Jackshon haha thanks for this read.
    First time fliers are always a laugh. The first time i got in the eagles stomach is some months ago, the cruise was to Kisumu International Airport…and as it’s a norm, i was late. Friendly KQ attendants at the check in booth were shocked to see me pop up within 12 minutes of the flight leaving. I had my boarding pass, handyi in hand, which always made me feel like ‘Aaai si nimelipia, siwezi achwa’….
    I was hurried in, went through those checks (at a point you just stand and wait to be told to do what-not, place your luggage here, remove your shoes…bla bla). I was so green. Those wahindis that would not even seek assistance shuttled me. Look, they are used to this, i would mumble.

    In the KQ Embraer 625 you get ushered in by a ‘Welcome onboard!’, that one settles in your heart’s left ventricle. Sweet. You feel important.

    I finally locate my seat and the safety announcement commences, that is when you don’t want to miss anything. I turned my sound recorder on, I’m not shitting you, i needed to ensure i had a referral afterwards or incase we crush into a thick cloud. ‘Remember its the action of sharply pulling the strap down that rhe oxygen bag will drop….our cruise level is 26,000ft…bla bla bla’ That announcement made me feel corporate and needed.

    And there was this frequent flier who almost knew every attendant, comfortable and easy was their talk…na siku hizi sikuoni. And the dude muses, biashara imekuwa mbaya kidogo.

    And airborne you get, and before we get to cruise level, some Hindi mama wants to use loo, and that’s when i held my head, cause we were still in that inclined state and an old mama wants to go downstream to the loo, i almost thought she’d topple.

    And landing in JKIA is just the most scaring of all.
    Captain Nyaga and your knots of attendants, bless you!

    11
  • jane melly
    14.08.2018

    Ooooh this is the sweetest piece i have ever read….. had to keep pausing so that it doesn’t end and i have laughed my ribs off. Guess What !!! You might not go to Heaven.

    5
  • miriam
    14.08.2018

    hahaa, love is love, why should i miss heaven anyway.

  • Val
    14.08.2018

    Hahahahhahaha oooh Biko you have made my day. Thank you!!!

  • Oscar
    14.08.2018

    This is quite insightful and useful to we who smelled a plane once when we went for a tour at JKIA while still in primary. And since we recently had that talk from a motivational speaker on how we should take ourselves on holiday and ‘book a flight’ as other normal human beings do, this article has wiped off our ass off the ‘assful’ behavior that el captain would describe as loutish. Thank you Biko.

    2
  • Nyambura Kagwe
    14.08.2018

    …..love is love.No doubt about it.

    1
  • Bittok
    14.08.2018

    Biko, what a nice read. I hope I will go to heaven too…

  • Mundu
    14.08.2018

    you’ve taken us to a world some of us have never been….but it sounds interesting…yeah….i dont know………ok Biko, its good….i dont know.

  • Mundu
    14.08.2018

    You’ve taken us to a world some of us have never been, sounds interesting…..mmmmm…..I dont know…. its ok Biko. Though i couldn’t figure out which brand you were pushing here, could it be one of the drinks or is it one of the airlines? Anyway i laughed occasionally and sometimes that’s all what matters.

    1
  • Kinaga
    14.08.2018

    The first time I flew overseas, I forgot to check in online before boarding. It was a Dreamliner, and the only available seat was in the centre column, sandwiched between two foul-smelling Chinese men. That was the longest 9hours I have ever encountered in my life!

    Thank you Biko for bringing back these memories!

    2
    • gkiande
      14.08.2018

      aish! our capu back in high school

    • Shareda
      16.08.2018

      Our student leader in campus

      1
  • Wicky
    14.08.2018

    nice piece Biko. Thank you.
    …”Plus, you might go to heaven.”
    Heaven, here we come.

  • Shazy
    14.08.2018

    Biko, hunanga mwisho wa humour !!!

    4
  • Karimi
    14.08.2018

    What a hilarious read, thanks Biko.

    NB/ I loved Drunk, when is the next book out?

  • Betty
    14.08.2018

    Try flying in a 6 seater charter and you will appreciate all other flights. 38 minutes on a cloudy day look like 38 days

    3
  • Dottie
    14.08.2018

    we kenyan’s its true we are called Hamnanga generation!! true to the core hahahahahahah

    1
  • Kesh
    14.08.2018

    Am always captivated by the way you’re able to twist and play with words so easily yet so appealing. Bless you. Plus, you will go to heaven for always fascinating us with these beautiful reads.

    4
  • Huini
    14.08.2018

    I’d listen to the sound of the engine and if it changed I would start mumbling, “Jesus I accept you as my personal saviour…” because when you accept Jesus as your personal saviour before you die, you go straight to heaven. # Tuko wengi

    6
  • J Munene
    14.08.2018

    Won’t write about people from other countries but Kenyans are self righteous pricks.

    3
  • Janelium
    14.08.2018

    The part about our Nigerian brodas and food is spot on.

    I was shocked to be served jollof rice and chicken on a morning flight to Lagos. I am pretty sure the same flight would offer eggs and sausages instead if it was headed to Joburg.

    2
  • Gash
    14.08.2018

    Some interesting read.

  • Lucy
    14.08.2018

    The going to heaven just killed it for me…now am wondering if am nice to our matatu crew, will I go to heaven too?

    2
  • SEV
    14.08.2018

    But some crew behave like they are demigods or sorts,i have had nasty experiences with females especially but the men are kind.Bless them always.
    On the other hand some passengers are from hell,there is this guy of Somali origin who was seated next to me,he had sneaked in some orange.He decided to just have it in that closed space and he did drop all the peels on the floor.It was disgusting.A whole Baba nani.

    2
    • Ocampo
      04.09.2018

      I guess you are female. Ref ‘,i have had nasty experiences with females’….what is the problem with females towards females? You may not go to heaven

  • Nini
    14.08.2018

    Indians and their vaterrr….

    5
  • Salim
    14.08.2018

    The prose today is magical, the writing genie was truly inspired. Masterpiece of an article and made in heaven.

    2
  • Warega
    14.08.2018

    Waw… ! very orientational piece especially for first fliers …

  • Teetotaler
    14.08.2018

    Biko you will go to heaven for the nice piece

  • Estar
    14.08.2018

    I have laughed so hard! Best Biko read by a mile…..

    1
  • kennedy Okong'o
    14.08.2018

    Biko,Imagine me,myself and i reading this when my “favourite” flight is delayed.

    Flight attendants why the stockings by the way?

    • Nya
      15.08.2018

      They are not just normal stockings, they are Compression stockings to prevent (DVT) Deep vein thrombosis.

      5
  • Amos Kiplagat
    14.08.2018

    Captivating as always.
    I usually long more from you.
    Kudos to you bana.

  • Judy
    14.08.2018

    My first flight was to Zanzibar in 2003. I still have my boarding pass!!

    7
    • Mshiriki
      15.08.2018

      Hahahaha, I can relate.

  • Kadonye
    14.08.2018

    This was not for us. We’re team flight 540 to coast in dec and the rare Arusha trip. Business class for who? I could not relate. Fun fact, I’ve never used the plane loos…none of my flights ever exceeded an hour. Lemme go work on my 5 year plan so I have something to add to the convo next time.

    2
  • GATAMA NDIRITU
    15.08.2018

    And then there is our very own Miguna Miguna. …#Iamnotboarding

    6
  • Were Victor
    15.08.2018

    “Kinda”. The neither here or there. Damn you good.
    Is hamunanga even a word in swahili?

    1
  • BrendaGati
    15.08.2018

    Mr . Ade needed a moment……

    1
  • Commenter-man
    15.08.2018

    A few observations of my own:
    Chinese fliers – are always dressed in their Pajamas as if they are prepared for the longest naps of their lives. I think they’ve figured out flying. Turn up in your most comfortable pajamas and turn the plane into your bedroom.
    Africans – are always dressed up in their ‘Sunday Best’, especially the first time fliers. Two hours into the flight they realise that the suit, vitenges, high heels and Manduli head-gear wasn’t the best idea. Then they kick off their shoes and lose them under the seats.

    9
    • Chero
      03.10.2018

      This sunday best thing is a thing. Recently on a joburg flight this african man was in a purple polka dot suit with animal skin shoes. First thing that came to mind is “He must be a sapeur from Congo!” He took selfies every few steps. Aki nilichoka.

  • P K
    15.08.2018

    This was my fave dessert by far. I snacked and finished this morning. I saw myself in the business class manenos (bumped myself up once and ate all the food too.) I am always lucky to meet friends in the 14 hour flights and or be traveling with colleagues that it has never been bla. But I identified with lotsastuff.

    The descriptions can also be used on the general attitude towards life, of the said passengers. Generally nice people remain nice. Entitled folk will wear entitlement and their business suit each day.

    Greatest read by far Mrefu.

    2
  • That-bloke
    15.08.2018

    yeah, i will be that guy trying to yank the door open when pressed for the loo, SMH, ntawai panda ndege lini?

    1
  • That-bloke
    15.08.2018

    Hmnanga Kc on board bana?? ahaha

  • Salome Caroline Gachiku Wandui
    15.08.2018

    I haven’t laughed this much in the office for a long time, i’m having my workmate read this ASAP. Biko you’re definitely going to heaven in my books.

  • Chantal
    15.08.2018

    pwahahahahhaa….thank you for this Biko. I have laughed loudly.

  • Sarah
    15.08.2018

    Am not shocked about the view on Kenyans… Honestly we are perennial complainers hardly do we ever see good in anything..Nice read Biko.

    1
  • Relce
    15.08.2018

    My second flying experience turned out to be my worst & most memorable. I had this urinary infection, the kind that makes u feel like relieving your bladder every 2seconds. That sh*t can’t let u sleep, the flight felt like forever. To make matters worse my prescribed medicine was in my checked in luggage. From the way the crew kept asking if i was comfortable, I bet they had concluded i had severe diarrhoea or worse cholera.

  • Beatrice Gatundu
    15.08.2018

    Nice read, flight etiquette…

  • Esenam Allen
    15.08.2018

    I have a sudden urge to fly. I don’t know why.

    1
  • Mshiriki
    15.08.2018

    The first time I ever Flew was to Dar es Salaam. I said the Lord’s prayer back to back, for the entire flight. If the plane swayed to one side, i would hastily clutch the seat arms and pull in the opposite direction, to give it balance. Lord forgive us.

    This is so me

    “The first time I got on a plane was to Kampala many moons ago. I think it was the great year of the locust. I thought it seemed dangerous that they were allowing all those people to walk in the plane mid-flight. Surely, won’t the plane crash from that human activity? I was terrified. I’d listen to the sound of the engine and if it changed I would start mumbling, “Jesus I accept you as my personal saviour…” because when you accept Jesus as your personal saviour before you die, you go straight to heaven. You don’t even queue, I’m told. Also, I was pressed and I didn’t want to go to the washroom because, first, I didn’t know where the hell it was and when I finally saw the sign I couldn’t get enough guts to walk there because the very act of walking there would have made the plane crash.”

    4
  • Louis Wamukoya
    15.08.2018

    The rest of us only view this job as clamorous, but it clearly has major challenges. Great read as always.

  • Sang
    15.08.2018

    Mimi nimewahi panda ya kuweka mbolea kwa tea plantation back at home. Viti ni mbili inakaa kiti moto ni vile iko na safety belts. Hio huwezi sumbua ati kusimama, bure utajipata nje. Am going to heaven, right? Mr Chakson…

    6
  • Juju
    15.08.2018

    Hehe since you are giving points of people going to heaven, that whisky is long overdue mate

  • Mwai
    15.08.2018

    “They will go to heaven.”

    Nice read. As always.

    Humility goes a long way.

  • Mwai
    15.08.2018

    “They will go to heaven.”

    Nice read. As always.

    Humility goes a long way.

    The title is on point. Reminded me of science or was it geography classes about the types of clouds. I could not tell which was called what.

  • Mwass
    15.08.2018

    “Or people with babies who are irritable because they can’t figure out why their ears are blocked and they don’t know, yet, that if you swallow it will open up.” This one got me off guard Biko, you are a true master of words. A Word Bender.

  • Cindy M
    16.08.2018

    ‘If an Indian writes a complaint letter you deserve it.’

    1
  • Alison reeve
    16.08.2018

    You sound likea cabin crew, that’s is winning of you, there is nothing like a modal flier, that’s a lazy crews paradise.
    The fact that people are diverse shouldn’t cause Al this winning.
    Looking forward to the next story next week

  • Anne
    16.08.2018

    Biko…You had me laugh out loud in the office…this is a hilarious article…thank you for making my day (You will go to heaven for this)

  • Becky
    16.08.2018

    haha first time flight I was stiff and the turbulence scared me. It’s lonely up there unless you are watching a movie or have a chatty seatmate. Also american security always checked my hair, I had long dreadlocks. when I cut them to a shorter length they stopped checking

  • rose
    16.08.2018

    Never boarded one, but i know i would be a typical ‘hamnanga’ flier.

  • The Granny's Corner
    16.08.2018

    I remember my first flight. Paid for by the company. I tried not to be an ass (I try every day) and also tried to appear casual. Like I do this every day. I now know I didn’t do a good job. Because I was craning my neck to see how the safety vest is hastened. And where the light is.

    It hasn’t gotten any better but the pressure where taking off blocked ears. I panicked silently. The thing continued climbing even after we were I don’t 35,000 feet above sea level. The very last seat huko back left is no joke. Especially when it turned it felt like the end was here.

    Did I tell you about turbulence? That shit is scary. But when we landed, I did the sign of the cross and crossed flying off my bucket list. But thoughts of crashing always come to mind. But they don’t scare me much. Because we are 35,000 feet closer to heaven. I would go to heaven.

    But mbona hamnanga mukimo?

    2
  • Brendan KASYABA
    16.08.2018

    I once travelled with Russian opera and i guess they were happy drunks they erupted clapped and its a mini performance. In Uganda comedians are a murderous lot and their fans have followed them all the way.
    When a comedian does his thing well he will say “i killed it”, then the fans will respond “we died”, now this piece is the real chocolate man…. you are forgiven because you killed it and i died. In

    5
  • Lamoy
    16.08.2018

    These are the pieces that you read but have to go back just in case you’re trying to convince someone to read Biko and you have to remember how exactly he said it. Because this is Biko, and when you talk about Biko, you say what Biko said.
    You brighten the week, Biko, even though it’s almost the end of the week. Nice read

    4
  • Francis
    17.08.2018

    Take a flight to Amboseli National Park then you will know that the Turbulence there was spawned by Loki the god of mischief. Flights into and out of Samburu were characterized by full doggy bags after Mt Kenya. Serengeti is a darling, the pilot will tell you wait a moment just before you board because he has to remove crates of food and screw back the chairs. Sometimes, the pilot will land at a different airstrip because the one you were destined for had a couple of lions still feeding on their left overs. Bush flights rarely missed something interesting happening!

    3
  • Gitts
    18.08.2018

    Hilarious. So true about the goings on in the office

  • Victoria
    19.08.2018

    On behal of all flight attendants, thank you Biko!!!

    1
  • Miss V
    19.08.2018

    Next time I’m flying..that will be my first time..l will act like l know it and give the boarding pass first..l may not use the loo though..

    How come there was no story of someone trying to open a window..like we always want to do in matatus..kwani hawananga dirisha mtu anaeza fungua??

    2
  • Elvira
    20.08.2018

    Hamnanga…hehehehe…special place preserved for Kenyans in heaven.

    1
  • J
    20.08.2018

    Flew to Hyderabad, as we were taxing off guys were queuing for the loo, take off when seatbelt sign is on guys still walking on isle and finally as descending and almost touch down , guys were already opening the overhead compartment to get the bags

  • Triza Murimi
    20.08.2018

    Funniest article i have read in a while.

  • Shighadi
    20.08.2018

    I love the last bit about being human…it’s all flight attendants and anyone offering you service requires…Treat the next person like you’d like to be treated. That’s all.
    Great read…You did your homework as always.
    You will go to heaven…

  • Jina
    20.08.2018

    Haha. Excellent article.

    I was also surprised to learn that some crew bid for flights based on passenger profiles. At some point I guess it’s just not worth it dealing with some nationalities.

    I think the article in broad strokes reflects what’s been my experience in the industry. So I won’t add anything.

    Also, it’s the “galley” area not gourney (for the crew).

  • Stephano
    20.08.2018

    Trevor Noah and Biko are the funniest Africans I’ve come across…. This automatically reminded me of the skit by Trevor Noah….

    https://youtu.be/_ufW30uNY4I

  • Mike
    21.08.2018

    Nice read as always Biko. I have heard opportunities to fly severally but what amuses me is the safety announcement especially the part they say fix your own oxygen mask then do the same for your child(ren). Lets be honest if you are a parent is that announcement really practical? me there’s no way am fixing myself and my toi is seated next to me with all that confusion waiting until am done. No way….By the way whats the thinking behind that guideline anyone?

    • Klippety Klopp
      30.08.2018

      You cannot save someone without first saving yourself. A sudden loss of cabin pressure isn’t a good thing for anyone in that tube.

    • Achieng
      01.09.2018

      Air at high altitudes is thinner. Passengers have just seconds to put on their oxygen masks before oxygen-saturation levels drop to a perilous point. By helping others first, or ignoring the mask altogether, a person will begin to lose his or her ability to recognise faces and shapes, and eventually pass out. its almost the same principle as mothers needing to eat a healthy nutritious meal before they can breastfeed the baby . Broadly speaking, you can’t take care of others before taking care of yourself first – if you’re weak/sick/incapacitated you are of no use to others……

  • Edna
    21.08.2018

    … The flight attendant kept smiling at me as she passed as if to say, “It’s fine, it’s fine, love is love.”

  • Mkash
    22.08.2018

    “Those who don’t bother listening to the safety announcement.” Guilty as charged 🙂

  • Laban Ndwaru
    22.08.2018

    There is another category of people who stand up right when a plane lands. Ain’t sure which side of the after life the belong to

  • GilBERT MWANGI
    23.08.2018

    Interesting read about flights. But nothing beats a flight in a rickety miraa plane from Wair to Nairobi.
    Check out this story on https://www.drummajor.co.ke/wajir-by-miraa-plane/

  • Bourgeois
    24.08.2018

    Your writing is everything

  • Baaaj
    24.08.2018

    I actually have a PhD in Financial Engineering hahaha

  • Nekesa
    24.08.2018

    I am so excited, My first flight as a flight attendant will be to Delhi India.

  • Shirmon
    04.09.2018

    Everything mentioned in your article is absolutely true. The Christmas Tree flight is the worst followed by the London flight. Once on the Christmas Tree flight, a mother was so fed up with her crying baby that she pressed the call bell and asked one of us to take the baby and make the crying stop. None of us accepted the challenge. On the same flight, as we were in the galley having our meal, (this is lights out time), another lady runs towards us with a plastic container in her hand screaming, “I want to vomit! I want to vomit!”. So one of us directs her to the toilet but she refuses to leave the galley. Turns out she wanted to “warm it”. The snack she had packed in the container she was holding. On the other hand Mumbai flights are also known as ambulatory flights because of the many passengers travelling for treatment purposes. Some of my saddest moments come from that route. Oh and Ugandans are also chilled. But the flight is also quite short for any drama anyway.

    1
  • Ocampo
    04.09.2018

    This is a good article, lovely……….You will go to heaven

  • Ndagitari
    05.09.2018

    Biko, I love your writing. Makes my day always. You will go to heaven too

  • Reenah
    19.09.2018

    I am a captain, I could’t agree more on paragraph 1 *wink*

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