Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Antrak Off-track

My disastrous travels across West Africa…

As per Part 1 below – I made it to Ouagadougou Burkina Faso, from Accra, the 766kms, on a rickety 10 seater plane… courtesy of Antrak Air.

On my return to Accra, days later and via two other separate airlines I looked them up and shockingly they actually have a website!

The most hilarious thing is that their motto is, “an Airline of Distinction and Excellence”. Well my experience was anything but excellent.

After my two designated days in Ouaga, I decided to give the airline a call, to confirm my booking on the flying coffin, to return to Accra that evening. Only when I called I was told that they don’t fly on Fridays. “But I have a ticket in my hand that says I’m to fly back to Accra tonight!!”, I said in a miniature panic at the thought of spending a lonely weekend in the desert town… The answer came back at me that they might fly on Sunday. “And what if I need to get back to Accra today?”…. (ask a silly question), she answered that I could try some other airlines… At who’s cost?! I had already been robbed blind on the two way fare of USD $450. I could have flown to London!
She calmly took my number, “in case of anything”… (Like what I might ask? In case a miracle happened and the airline became professional?!).

I spent the rest of the day visiting various travel agents and airline offices to try and arrange a route home. Getting around in West Africa is a nightmare at the best of times. Ouaga is not the best of times. My options all involved at least an extra two stops and one or two extra countries on the trip… At one point I even considered flying Air France to Paris, transferring to Amsterdam and flying with KLM all the way back down to Ghana…

Eventually I was able to get a seat on Air Burkina the following day, to Abidjan, with a stop over in Bobodioulasso (where?! You ask…). From Abidjan I transferred to Air Ivoire on a flight to Accra. All said and done, the journey was 8 hours long. In a normal airplane, with normal schedules, and normal circumstances, this would have been a quick business flight, less than two hours long.

But then this was not a normal circumstance…

I received a call from a little French speaking lady a few days after I’d returned home. “Madam, Antrak will fly tonight”.

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1 comment:

John Stansbury said...

Remind me never to travel to Africa without my own airline.

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