I went on a 30-day trip in December 2022 and January 2023 to leave the Icelandic winter behind me for some time. The trip had four main parts: visiting Sudan and Kenya; visiting friends, colleagues and relatives in Hungary and the Czech Republic; a family holiday in Tenerife and a business trip to Senegal, The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
I had a total of 18 flights, booked mostly as one-ways and one double open-jaw. Here’s my final list of flights after many cancellations, changes of departure time and aircraft type:
Keflavík to Paris CDG, Icelandair, economy class, B757 (no flight report)
Paris to Istanbul, Turkish, business class, A321
Istanbul to Khartoum, Turkish, business class, B737
Khartoum to Addis, Ethiopian, economy class upgraded to business class, B737
Addis to Nairobi NBO, Ethiopian, economy class upgraded to business class, B777
Nairobi WIL to Mombasa to Lamu, Skyward Express, economy class, Q300
Lamu to Malindi to Nairobi WIL, Safarilink, economy class, Q200
Nairobi NBO to Istanbul, Turkish, business class, A330
Istanbul to Budapest, Turkish, business class, B737
Vienna to Tenerife South, Wizzair, economy class, A321
Tenerife North to Gran Canaria, Binter Canarias, economy class, ATR42
Grand Canaria to Dakar, Binter Canarias, economy class, E195
Dakar to Banjul, Air Sénégal, economy class, A320
Banjul to Freetown, Air Sénégal, economy class
Freetown to Banjul, Air Sénégal, economy class
Banjul to Casablanca, Royal Air Maroc, business class
Casablanca to Paris ORY, Royal Air Maroc, business class
Paris CDG to Keflavík, Play, economy class
There are not many options to fly from Khartoum, Sudan to Nairobi, Kenya. Kenya Airways flies only on certain days, in the middle of the night and the prices are very high. Saudia is another option but it would have meant a red eye flight. The next option is to backtrack and fly with Egyptair through Cairo - not great. Ethiopian offered the shortest route and the best schedule with a departure from Khartoum at 11.10. The price was very high, over 400€ one-way in economy for a 2x2 hour flight but there was no better option. Business class would have cost around 1500€.
The second leg of the booking was cancelled two weeks before departure. I rebooked myself to the evening flight from Khartoum to Addis which meant that my connecting flight would arrive to Nairobi at 01.20 - not ideal but once again there were not many other options.
I got an email one day before departure that check-in was available. I was offered to make an upgrade bid for both sectors with a minimum of $210 for the first flight and $245 for the second. Guaranteed upgrade was also available for about double this price. I made a bid just $5 above the minimum. The bid for the first leg (Khartoum to Addis) was accepted the morning of my departure. The bid for the second leg (Addis to Nairobi) was accepted when my first flight was leaving Khartoum.
I absolutely enjoyed my holiday in Sudan (see my photos at the end of my previous flight report). My tour guide registered my passport for departure in a small building a few hundred meters from the terminal with a sign in Arabic only. It was done in ten minutes and then he dropped me off near the terminal.
The airport was built in the 1940s. It's absolutely in the middle of downtown Khartoum. The terminal is in poor condition and idefinitely not modern. A new airport 40 kms away was supposed to open in 2022 but it didn't.
I went to the business class check-in desk.
There was only one person in front of me. The agent, apparently very low on work motivation, asked for my visa to Kenya and covid vaccination certificate then told me to wait. "Your booking has expired", she said after I asked why I had to wait. She tried to get some help from her colleagues but the luggage belt was loud and they didn't hear her voice. She abandoned trying to get help and proceeded to check in the next passenger. A few minutes later she told me to try to get the manager in the green suit. I went to him and told him I needed assistance. He was even less motivated to work but after a phone call he gave my booking a green light. When I asked him about the lounge he became very friendly.
I went to passport control. The officer was unfriendly but I was through in two minutes.
Next step would have been security check by soldiers. They were similarly unfriendly and told me (and all other passengers) to wait which I did for about half an hour in a very dilapidated hall.
I only met friendly people in Sudan wherever I travelled. It seems that the only unfriendly ones work at the airport. Nothing threatening or dangerous at all, just unfriendly.
I went first though the security control manned by soldiers (the one supposed to check the screen was on his phone) and then there was another security control manned by airport employees. There was no waiting time for either.
The lounge was one floor up near gate 3.
Given how rundown the airport was I had very low expectations about the lounge but was pleasantly surprised. The man at the front desk was very friendly and professional. The lounge looked nice with good quality furniture.
There’s even an apron view.
Water, tea, coke and also some food were available. A very comfortable place to wait.
The agent at the lounge told me at 17.35 that I could proceed to boarding. I went down to the gate. There was a gate change but there was no information about it: there was not a single sign about which departure was from which gate, My boarding pass was checked, a policeman checked my passport again and then I could board the bus.
A Tarco Aviation plane.
I had a very warn welcome with a big smile from the cabin crew as I boarded.
This plane has four rows of large reclining seats in a 2+2 configuration with a total of 16 seats in business class. A very comfortable way to fly such a short distance.
Seats 1AC and 2AC.
I had seat 4A.
The view towards the front of the cabin.
There was only one other passenger in business class.
A bottled water and a hot towel were offered a few seconds after boarding.
A welcome drink was offered shortly after: champagne or orange juice. I had some orange juice.
Push-back was at 18.00 for a scheduled departure time of 18.10. We took off exactly at 18.10 from runway 36.
An expected flight time of one hour and 25 minutes was announced for a block time of one hour and 50 minutes.
Here’s the menu card.
An article about Ethiopian coffee and the choice of beverages.
There’s another article about teff, a plant which is the base of the most common meal in Ethiopia. The other side of the menu card shows the menu for the flight from Addis to Khartoum.
Some salad, a choice of three hot dishes as main course and a dessert. Excellent for a flight of less than two hours.
The choice of alcoholic drinks is also very good for this type of flight.
The entire meal was served 15 minutes after take-off. The cabin crew member working in the business class cabin was very friendly, smiley and clearly proud of working for Ethiopian.
Julienne Seasonal Salad, Smoked Salmon Roulade, Cherry Tomato Salad. The smoked salmon roulade was very tasty. I live in Iceland and I'm used to eating top quality salmon - and this was just as good.
Herb and Crushed Paprika Grilled Salmon Fillet with Lemon Dill Cream Sauce Served with Sautéed Vegetables and Roasted Potato Wedges. The fish, the sauce and the vegetables were all perfect. I was very impressed.
Pineapple Pie. The pineapple pie seemed to be an apple pie with two pieces of pineapple on top but was nevertheless very good.
I had some Rift Valley Chardonnay Ethiopian white wine. It was quite good. A refill was offered several times.
I had some Ethiopian coffee to finish my meal. I usually drink capuccino so it was something new for me but I liked it.
The remaining short time passed uneventfully but I was asked at least twice if I wanted some more Ethiopian white wine.
The lights of Addis.
We landed in Addis at 20.32 and were at our final parking position at 20.39 for a scheduled arrival time of 21.00.
There was a separate bus for business class passengers on arrival.
Our plane as seen from the terminal building.
Khartoum Airport is old, in bad condition and some of the staff are not friendly. The lounge was quite nice with smiling and professional employees. Hopefully the new airport will open soon. It can only be better.
Ethiopian gets mixed reviews so I didn't have high expectations. The seat was perfectly comfortable for such a short flight but the meal and especially the service made this flight one of my best ever short-haul onboard business class experience. The cabin crew made this flight outstanding. The soft product (meal and service) on this flight can be rated as 5-star. Airlines in Europe: go to Ethiopian to learn about top quality service on a short-haul flight.