TOP
Sunday,September 15,2019 05:43 AM

My experience flying with Uganda Airlines

By Tracy Gwambe

Added 8th September 2019 11:27 AM

I had a good time on that flight to Dar. I’m sure you too will have a spectacular experience.

Tracygwambe 703x422

I had a good time on that flight to Dar. I’m sure you too will have a spectacular experience.

7:00 am was check-in time as our flight to Dar Es Salaam was scheduled for 9:15 am.

I was thrilled at the experience of being on that maiden flight to Dar es Salaam.

The bird was back in the air after a whopping 18 years. Yes, we were flying the Crane and showing it off to the world.

A screen showing the flight details to Dar Es Salaam hanging at Entebbe International Aiport (Photo by Tracy Gwambe)

Looking at how we were received on the plane by the cabin crew, you would think hospitality was born in Uganda.

Passengers could not hide their excitement as they boarded the plane, many took time exchanging phones to pose for pictures around the plane…

 One of the passengers, Arthur Musinguzi poses for a picture before boarding (Photo by Arthur Musinguzi)

“I want the picture to have the Uganda flag in the background,” some passengers were heard saying, before being reminded that we would be late for the air.

The cabin crew stood at the stairs of the plane and watched with smiles as passengers took pictures, while politely reminding them that Captain Charles Karabarinde had to start the engine in time. Captain Karabarinde has flown different aircraft with over 40 years of experience.

His Excellency Richard Kabonero and the team from Tanzania welcome passengers after the flight (Photo by Tracy Gwambe)

It felt like the prodigal son’s return home. The Uganda Airlines last flew in 2001 and here it was, back to where it belonged. In the skies. We spent 1:50 minutes on the flight, but it felt like 30 minutes.

 It felt like home. We were 30,000feet above sea level, but we were home, home in our very own Bombardier, our Uganda Airlines.

We would later be welcomed by a water salute at the Nyerere International Airport. We took our sweet time having that bath, given that we would later dry under the scorching sun in Dar, within seconds.

 


Together with another team from Tanzania and different Ugandans, Uganda’s High Commissioner to Tanzania, His Excellency Richard Kabonero walked towards the plane, the airstair was laid down, one by one, the passengers disembarked after sounding of the Vuvuzela by Apostle Dennis Okudi.


Ululations and chants were heard as the team waved the Uganda flags in the air, shook hands with the passengers and exchanged pleasantries.

 His Excellency Richard Kabonero poses with some of the passengers (Photo by Tracy Gwambe)

After several handshakes and many photo moments, we walked to our reception area. Behind us was our bird. Our crane. Our very own Bombardier was in sight and many keeping a close eye at the bird as though it would stealthily fly away.



Kabonero mentioned that the timing couldn’t be any better as Uganda and Tanzania were preparing for the Uganda-Tanzania business forum, with over 300 people attending, and the attendance of

President Yoweri Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli, would spice the event. No wonder the bird was fully booked.

 

 His Excellency Richard Kabonero while addressing the press (Photo by Tracy Gwambe)

Jennifer Bamuturaki, the commercial director Uganda Airlines, noted that the day would go down in history for East Africa as Uganda is now able to offer multi selections to travellers across East Africa.

“Uganda Airlines is all about people, places and culture and we seek to diversify. This will be at a relatively affordable fair,” said Bamuturaki.

From the comfort of our Bombardier, we flew over Mt. Kilimanjaro, kissing the air above its towering 19,341 feet peak. No need for a reminder that we were flying over the highest mountain in Africa.


The snacks


It would not have been our own crane if it did not have a rolex on the menu and the tweeps made it like it was such a big deal. Well, it was…The one with raw tomatoes (nyanya mbisi) 


I had a good time on that flight to Dar. I’m sure you too will have a spectacular experience.

Will I travel using the airline again? Oh yes, if we are headed in the same direction.

In a month’s time, the pair will be joined by another pair of birds to dot the airspace. Early 2020, Uganda will be welcoming the airbuses.

Jennifer Bamuturaki, the Uganda Airlines commercial Director, and the entire crew that has manned the flight today, including Ronnie Kasemeriire (Hostess) Musoke William &Kasasa Daniel (hosts), Apostle Dennis Okudi & the captains pose with H.E Kabonero. (Picture by Tracy Gwambe)

Here’s my take as we wait for the airbuses;

If you’re one who gets bored by the view of skies easily and is not in company of anyone to chat with on your flight, light, I would advise that you fully charge your gadget’s battery because our babies don’t have cable charging options, you can also carry a book or something else to keep you entertained on your flight.

The crew

The Maiden flight to Dar es Salaam that morning was manned by Captains Charles, Chotum, Denise and Rashid Cheboy.
Ronnie Kasemeriire (Hostess) Musoke William and Kasasa Daniel (hosts) all exhibited great hospitality, but this doesn’t come as a surprise, Uganda is known for having hospital people.

Among the crew was, Apostle Dennis Okudi, the man behind that vuvuzela whose sound either communicated departure or arrival of the plane.

Another passenger’s experience: Uncle Josh Karuhanga

 Josh Karuhanga munching on the Ugandan made rolex (Picture by Tracy Gwambe)


Since I was on a Routine Business trip to Dar es Salam, I hadn't anticipated that I would encounter the hype and pomp that was with the maiden flight to Dar es Salam. There are some positives and negatives that we can all appreciate and learn from.


Positives

1. Great inflight experience. The food and drinks were good as expected and the Rolex that I got served in Business Class was amazing. Whoever thought about the Rolex experience nailed it.

 
2. The cabin ambience was exceptional as you would expect with a new Aircraft.

3. Flight and cabin crew were impressive, and you would sense positive vibes within their DNA.

4. Flight times so far so good as we departed and arrived on time.

5. Online Booking was seamless for me. I got to know there was a parallel website for booking that wasn’t working well. UG airlines should align this.

6. The Twitter Handle @UG_airlines was responsive to my queries. There is room to improve.

 
Negatives


1. Customer Helplines were off on the times I tried calling them.


2. Check-in processes were still unsynchronized. Too much confusion while printing boarding passes and luggage tags. (I guess it’s a work in progress).

 Cake was served 


3. Coordination with Immigration at various airports. We waited for about 40 min at Julius Nyerere Airport because the flight code wasn’t in the Immigration system of TZ.

There are other missing links that I wouldn't describe as Negative. Like;


1. Missing inflight Magazine and Duty-free options (this should be work in progress)

Related Articles

More From The Author

Related articles