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Air Zimbabwe - London Gatwick to Harare (The ACTUAL flight from hell)

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  • Air Zimbabwe - London Gatwick to Harare (The ACTUAL flight from hell)

    For a very strange and unknown reason, i had to go to Zimbabwe for work haha so instead of going for the more expensive flights i decided to choose Air Zimbabwe to see what is was like.

    Airline - Air Zimbabwe
    Route - London Gatwick - Harare,Zimbabwe
    Scheduled Departure - 18:25 (16th August)
    Scheduled Arrival - 05:55 (17th August)
    Actual Departure - 15:07 (19st August)
    Actual Arrival - 01:53 (20nd August)
    Seat - Many different seats were given to me
    Class - Economy
    Aircraft - Boeing 767-200

    I arrived at LGW at 16:25, exactly 2 hours before the scheduled departure.
    The queues were extremely unorganized, and the flight 2 days before was cancelled so the queues were doubled up, with only 3 desks open it was chaos.
    When i arrived at the desk the poor staff (Gatwick airport not Air Zimbabwe employees) were trying their VERY best to make sure everybody was where they were supposed to be. I was checked in and given seat 31E.
    On the Air Zimbabwe website i was told through the "live chat" that the 762 of the fleet had PTV's in each seat equipped with AVOD, haha just remember this for later.
    As normal i proceeded through security and into the departure lounge, by this time it was 17:05. I found a departure board screen and checked my flight, but i was unable to find it on the screens but i thought nothing of it (stupidly).
    At 17:30 i proceeded to the gate allocated on the boarding pass. When i got there, a bunch of people, clearly going home, were standing queueing and had made an enormous queue.
    At 18:25 there was still no flight on the departure screens and no employees to be seen at the gate area.
    At just before 20:00 we were all still waiting in the departure gate when a Airport employee turned up and said the flight was cancelled.
    We followed her (i felt sorry for her with all the abuse being thrown at her) through the normal customs and to baggage reclaim, just as if we had arrived at LGW. We were not given any accommodation for the night so we had to sleep at the airport.
    The same girl told us that in the morning we would be given breakfast and lunch vouchers, and that we were rescheduled for 15:00 tomorrow.
    At 09:00 am, everybody was so hungry they actually bought their own food from the available shops, and at 11am the same girl as yesterday, accompanied by a few others handed out lunch vouchers, which was just a 5 food voucher. After blowing 2.50 on a bottle of water i wandered around LGW for a while and waited untill 13:00 when the check-in desks when supposed to open. At 13:00, a massive crowd of people hearded around the check-in, people from the flight from the 14th, yesterdays flight and some others who had shown up from nowhere.
    Chaos ensued and eventually security showed up to try and keep it all under control. In was then announced that all passengers on the 14th who had been cancelled were to be on todays 15:00 flight (which was not operated by Air Zimbabwe) and that we were scheduled for a flight tomorrow at 18:25 (an actual scheduled air zimbabwe flight).
    Confusing huh ?
    So again we slept at the airport, everybody keeping together in the same area just in case some schedule changed.
    So after recieving a 5 food voucher at 18:00 and being told we had to keep it all night, we were starving. After a sleepless and noisy night at LGW, with all the 1am,2am,3am,4am,5am charter arrivals, with a bunch of loud,noisy, and most likely drunk brits, it was hard to shut your eyes really.
    At 07:00 an employee approached us and handed out another 5 voucher and said it was to last untill 12:00 which is when would be given another.
    At 15:30,i think, another employee approached us with another 5 voucher, ages after they had promised. At 16:50 check ins had opened and we (Our cancelled flight, the left-overs from the 14th's flight, and everybody from todays flight) crowded around the check in area.It was announced that everybody from previously cancelled flights were to be prioritized for todays flight. So i checked in again, and was given seat 35D.
    Again the normal security procedures and i was into the departure lounge.
    I checked the departure screens and our flight was actually on the board, "Scheduled".
    At 18:00 it was changed to "Delayed". At 2030 it still said delayed.
    Again most of us proceeded to the departure gate allocated on the boarding card. After another long wait, one of the passengers from my flight on the 16th, contacted Air Zimbabwe London. They were told they were shutting and that they should call the Harare office. So she did, and the Harare office told them to contact the Dusseldorf office, so after a long and what sounded like a confusing telephone call, the woman called Dusseldorf who informed us (at the exact same time as an announcement was made) that the flight was cancelled. The Gatwick announcement said to go to the information desk. Yes it was cancelled, and again another 5 food voucher but no information on a re-scheduled flight. So the next morning, still starving and tired, we waited and waited when we were told of yet another schedule change. 2 flight were to depart today, one at 17:00 and one at 17:20.
    So another very hectic check-in and i was checked in by the same person for the third time. I was given 31A. As per usual the security lines were long.
    On the board, the 2 flights were both on there which was a good sign, and i proceeded to the gate.
    Both flights were leaving from opposite gates, and the 17:00 flight pushed back at 16:55, operated by a 757 in a plain white livery (dont know which airline). At 18:00, no plane had arrived at our gate.
    We were told the plane had been diverted to Rome (something to do with "Comrad" Mugabe ! ) and that we were re-scheduled to depart at 19:00.
    At 19:00 no plane had arrived, and we were told "Due to problems between passengers in Rome, we now had been re-scheduled until 22:00"

    We were given a 5 food voucher, one of the many in my collection and i spent it at some bar in the terminal (where starbucks used to be).
    When most flights had departed, just us and a few lively charters were yet to depart.
    At 22:00 we were AGAIN re-scheduled for 23:15.
    At 22:15 i was sitting at the bar with the viewing window, and saw a 767 in Air Zimbabwe colours touch down HARD onto the runway.
    It taxied in and the Cargo Area
    At 22:45 we were called "immediately" to the gate and were boarded onto a bus, which then took us to the 762 at the cargo area. What the hell is going on !?
    We boarded through 2L and we were greeted by a suprisingly kind crew.
    They seated us quickly, and did a safety demonstration in PERFECT english.
    We taxied to the runway and made a rolling take-off into the sky.
    Unlike what i had been told, the 762 had NO PTV !
    An annoying kid behind me was kicking my chair, but the good thing about the seats being old, was that each time he kicked, the seat would fly back and his tray table would come down and hit him. He did not learn from this
    The crew were really good, probably one of the best ive ever had on a plane, they could not do enough for you. Makes sence seeing as ive waited ages to get on here

    We were served dinner, but it was actually a breakfast, with sausages and tomatoes and potatoes.
    The hot water was only "limited" on board and coffee/tea was only available to be served once per passenger.
    Before landing we were given some sort of sandwich with a weird paste in the middle, didnt touch it but it didnt smell or look good.
    After an eventful trip we landed in Harare and proceeded to customs.
    The British travellers among the group were selected and treated very rough by the customs officers, made to empty their luggage onto the floor so they could search, being American i didnt get singled out but they still didnt like the fact i was from Zimbabwe.
    When i entered into the baggage reclaim, Airport employees were so kind, and helped with your luggage and carried it for you. Its as if they picked the customs officers deliberately to hate British people

    My return journey was the same, except it all went on time.

    Flight - 10/10
    Crew - 10/10
    Comfort - 4/10
    Seats - 2/10
    IFE - 0/10
    Service - 7/10
    Service Quality - 4/10
    Punctuality - HA !


  • #2
    The sooner someone puts a bullet into Mugabe, the better for all concerned.
    Zimbabwe might then start to catch up with the 21st century.
    If it 'ain't broken........ Don't try to mend it !


    • #3
      Sounds like a wicked eexperience!!!
      Chris Sharps
      5D3 | 5D2 | 7D | 1D2 | 10D | 400D | 1V | 3
      17-40F4L | 24-105F4LIS | 70-200F2.8LIS | 100-400LIS
      24F1.4L II | 50F1.2L | 85F1.2L II | 15F2.8 Fisheye | 50F1.4 | 100F2.8 Macro
      1.4x | 550EX x2

      Fuji X100


      • #4
        If that is the POOR quality of service given by Air Zimbabwe that airline should be shut down and re-started with new mamagement and a whole new structure.

        and heres me complaining about a 3 hour delay going to paris

        I am surprised no-one has taken legal action.


        • #5
          Originally posted by EKA380 View Post
          If that is the POOR quality of service given by Air Zimbabwe that airline should be shut down and re-started with new mamagement and a whole new structure.

          and heres me complaining about a 3 hour delay going to paris

          I am surprised no-one has taken legal action.
          If they do they need to make sure they're not in Zimbabwe at the time. A knock on the door at 3a.m. might be forthcoming !
          If it 'ain't broken........ Don't try to mend it !


          • #6
            Well that is something to keep in mind next time my flight's delayed 2 hours or some such. I'm surprised this airline is still in business. Thanks for sharing your not-so-fun trip experience.


            • #7
              Why the plane parked in the cargo area? The seat in plane is very uncomfortable?

              Never fly Air Zimbabwe.