There are, unfortunately, no direct flights from the UK to Tanzania, so DonQui has to work through the various options.
Disregarding Ethiopian Airways, the cheapest flights are with Emirates or Turkish Airlines but they involve inhospitable hours and even more inhospitable long lay-overs at Dubai or Istanbul. Qatar Airlines has a flight via Doha which is a relatively short layover but it is still in the middle of the night.
As readers of his blog will know by now, DonQui is a creature who rather likes his comforts and so he seeks out more civilised routes. Kenya Airways’ overnight flight from Heathrow to Nairobi with a morning connection to Dar is not too bad. DonQui has taken this route before. It was relatively hassle-free despite the fact that he almost missed his connection in Nairobi because he was chatting and did not pay attention to a gate change.
Even better, from DonQui’s point of view, is the late morning KLM route from Amsterdam. It goes direct to Dar Es Salaam with no changes, no long layovers and no missing a night’s sleep. Sometimes it stops off at Kilimanjaro to let off groups of sturdy, outdoorsy-looking, mountaineering types — but apparently not at this time of year.
Of course DonQui will need to get to Amsterdam first. However, as his home stable is in the closest part of England to the Netherlands, it is a simple matter of a 30 minute connecting flight from Norwich. For those living closer to the Big Smoke there is a similar connection from London City Airport.
When flying DonQui is not the most sociable animal on board. His preference is to sit in splendid isolation and talk to nobody. On a night flight he tends to drop off to sleep on take-off and wake shortly before landing — much to the annoyance of Duchess who finds sleeping on board nigh-on impossible.
In order to reduce the chances of his peace and tranquility being interrupted by a gregarious or fidgety neighbour, DonQui has a couple of tricks he employs. They don’t always work but they do help to stack the deck in his favour.
DonQui much prefers a window on long flights — so he can sleep without being disturbed. Therefore, he always pre-books a seat even if it costs a bit more. He never selects a seat in front of an emergency exit row as these often do not recline for safety reasons. If there is a row of three seats he looks on the seating plan for one with the aisle taken but the middle still empty. If the flight is not full there is less chance of a single middle seat being taken. Finally it is also worth remembering that flights tend to be fuller at the front so if you are looking for peace and quiet rather than a quick exit, book a seat in the back.
DonQui is pleased to find the flight from Amsterdam to Dar is relatively empty. Although the front seats are mostly filled up, DonQui has reserved his at the back where there is plenty of space for him to put his hooves up and enjoy the flight in relative undisturbed comfort.
Amazingly, the food on board is not too bad for economy class feed.
Fine dining it certainly isn’t but DonQui thinks that the vaguely Indonesian style chicken and rice, and the cucumber salad with ginger and chilli, are both rather good. The lump of cheese is edible while the lemon cream with berries is actually delicious. The South African wine is pretty decent too. KLM used to have a reputation for cheap and not very cheerful flights. Perhaps their merger with Air France has improved the catering standards!