Thursday, May 10, 2012

Last BMI Hoorah: Mumbai to Addis Ababa


There was just another group of passengers in front of us in the business class line. It took them a couple of minutes more to finish their check-in as their luggage appeared to be overweight. Our check-in however didn’t take as long as we were promptly provided boarding passes all the way to Seychelles with luggage checked through all the way. 

Going through security however wasn’t as efficient. There were separate lines for gents and ladies and even though the lines didn’t look long, it took us a good thirty minutes before we made our way past security. There were no separate lines for business or first class passengers. 

We decided to visit the Lufthansa lounge first, since the Lufthansa lounge was close by after we passed through security. The lounge agent wanted to collect the lounge invitation provided by Ethiopia for their contract lounge issued during check in but I refused since we did want to visit the contract lounge later. They tried to explain that Ethiopia would be charged twice but I wouldn’t hear any of it since I could enter the lounge with the Star Gold status or our business class boarding pass.
The Lufthansa lounge was furnished similarly to their other lounges but seemed more run down. It was too early at 4 am for any alcohol and we just settled for water and tea. 

45 minutes later we proceeded to the Clipper lounge which was the contract lounge used by Ethiopia Airlines. The lounge was well furnished but was packed with passengers. There was nothing from the buffet that interested us and we just decided on water. 

At the assigned boarding time, we headed to the departure gate only to see the crew still at the departure gate. This is a never a good sign as it would be a couple of minutes more before boarding would begin. Sure enough, fifteen minutes water, boarding did sorta begin after the crew had entered the aircraft. We walked to another boarding area where we were told to wait. Boarding then began literally by row from the back to the front of the plane. There was no priority boarding for the Star Gold or business class passengers. While it was finally time for business class passengers to board, there was still a line in the jetway. What I assume to be the station manager realize there were business class passengers in the line and he pulled us all aside and escorted us pass the economy class passengers who gave us dirty looks. What a chaotic boarding!

The ET Crew
Our Mumbai to Addis Ababa flight was originally scheduled to be operated by a 757 but got switched to a 737-800 a week before. First impression was that this was that the 737-800 was new, clean and cool with the new interiors. It went downhill from there.  The cabin was infested with mosquitoes and our pre-flight entertainment consists of killing them. 

The seat pitch was great for a regional flight but I would have appreciated more seat recline. I got some shut eye for a couple of minutes but couldn’t sleep for long stretches. 

I was starving after take-off and looking forward to breakfast. I was definitely disappointed with what looked like an economy class presented meal but surprisingly the omelet was decent.

Amenity kits were also provided for this relatively short ~5 hour flight.

The rest of the 5 hour flight was a struggle even in business class. The IFE consisted of short TV programs on the overhead that looped 3 times before we finally touched down. After the first loop, I alternated between trying to sleep and reading the “Hunger Games”.

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