Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kigali, Rwanda

We arrived in Kigali on October 23 - without Paul's luggage. Paul will rant about this in his country review but let me just say that Ethiopian Airlines was actually a decent airline until we encountered this situation. There is just zero customer service or concept of service/listening. We asked them to check Entebbe International Airport (in Uganda) for the bag because our flight stopped through there en route to Kigali. But because we flew from Addis Ababa, the answer we would get was, "Your bag should be on the next flight from Addis." I tried to ask if they knew the bag was left in Addis Ababa but I got the same answer- "it will come on the next flight- call us in the morning." Anyway, we left the airport with an incident report in hand (as we were told was the process) and high hopes of the bag arriving from Addis Ababa on the next flight. We did however, meet another American who offered to give us a ride to our hostel. We felt very lucky to have met Leslie because not only did we not know where the hostel and not have the phone number to the place, cabs from the airport were supposedly astronomical.

As for the bag - no luck. We were picked up for our tour the next morning without Paul's pack. Luckily our tour guide Vincent, offered to help check at the airport while we did a tour of Kigali. We went to the genocide memorial, drove by the market, and had lunch in Kigali before heading to the Volcanoes National Park for our gorilla trek. The genocide memorial is not easy to visit but important to experience. In addition to learning about the atrocities in Rwanda, there was an exhibit of other genocide examples that Paul and I didn't know about. 

Hello country #20

Cacti outside the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center

Entrance to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center with a view of the city in the background

Taxi-bikes around town

As we left Kigali, we continued to check in with Vincent through our driver, Innocent (really, that's his name!). No bag from the afternoon flight from Addis Ababa so I asked Vincent to ask them to check Entebbe because it might have been taken off there when we landed there en route to Kigali. He asked and they said the bag wasn't at Entebbe airport. 

After two nights without the bag, I decided to go full court press - in addition to calling the baggage area of Kigali International Airport twice a day, I looked for email addresses and phone numbers of any (and all) Ethiopian Airlines customer service contacts on the internet. Nobody answered the phone of the numbers I found but the emails I sent started some activity. I also used Facebook and Twitter in hopes that someone would actually help and listen. I even took to the Star Alliance - this is the group of partner airlines the same as United. A lot of worrying, calls and emails went by and then, on the 5th day, the bag was finally found - in Entebbe (like I said).

I won't get into details but after picking up the lost bag, we were advised to go to the Ethiopian
Airlines office in town to receive our compensation for the inconvenience we experienced.
Adding insult to injury, we basically paid a taxi (to and from our hotel) only to be laughed at
by the assistant to the Area Manager and told she couldn't give us any compensation.

We stayed in Kigali another two nights upon return from our gorilla trek/time in Lake Kivu but there really wasn't much to do.

We did see a colony of bats one morning


Feel free to leave comments - would love to hear from you. But remember to leave your name!