I flew to Corfu in April this year using Egypt Air. That was as part of a Johannesburg Cricket Club tour to play at the little known Corfu Cricket Tournament. That’s a club run by former Durbanites (from Chatsworth in particular) and sees poor inner city Johannesburg kids playing cricket around the world. While most games take place in Joburg, once a year they travel to Greece and are the gold medal winners from last year. I was the cinematographer heading along to record the trip.
It’s a flight to Cairo, then a short hop from the Egyptian capital to Athens, then an 11 hour bus trip Igoumanitsa, a ferry to the town of Corfu, and another bus to Messonghi Beach hotel. But its the flights that I’m talking about.
The air stewards and staff aboard the flights were odd and to put it directly, rude and obnoxious. The food from Johannesburg to Cairo was truly abysmal. The beef and chicken could have been anything. Combine that with one of the attendants who ignored our requests for water and you have the makings of a bit of a nightmare. It’s a 7 hour flight to Cairo from Joburg, so not hydrating at 33000 ft is a real issue.
Eventually the dark-eyed lacklustre air serving person literally threw a bottle of still water at me. Luckily I was travelling with a group of cricketers and we can all catch a moving object. An elderly lady across the isle was almost in tears but the cabin crew couldn’t care less. Maybe the ongoing battles between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military had worn a bit thin.
One rushed past shouting “Coffeeeeeee” repeatedly and then looked upset if you said “yes”. Even the inner-city boys who never turn down a gift horse were surprised by just how bad the food was. And on approach the pilot suddenly switched to MiG mode and we were in a virtual aerobatic display. I didn’t mind, loving the 3D sensations, but my fellow passengers were all oohing and aaahing as the plane dipped and yawed.
On the Cairo to Athens leg it was chalk and cheese. Smoked salmon and capers. Very good smoked salmon. I thought ironically that the Egyptians had never liked the Greeks and maybe they were just showing off. “Look, little Greek, we have super food, eh?”
I love flying whether its my own rented plane, or on board a Dakota, a chopper, or a Boeing or Airbus. And everything, all the bad food, bad service and dishevelled cabin crew faded into the background when the pilot set down the Airbus at OR Tambo. It was easily the best landing I’ve ever felt in a commercial airliner. The plane did not really land – it just kissed the runway. We didn’t feel the wheels touch the tar, the flight sort of merged into a smooth freewheelin’ Airbus driving to the apron. What a landing, I felt like clapping. No-one else seemed to be aware of just how good it was.
The captain was standing at the exit saying good bye a little later. I shook his hand and said “That was the best landing I’ve ever felt in a commercial airliner” and he beamed while the cabin crew looked on with suitably sullen expressions. At least the flight deck appeared to have something going for it after hours and hours of watching some of the worst cabin crew on any airliner anywhere, while scoffing D-grade airline munchies.
The landing alone made up partly for the bad service and epically bad food. But I’m not in a rush to fly Egypt Air again. Rather pay the difference and hop on board Emirates or similar and take a bounce or two as you land.