What, you’ve never heard of Daallo Airlines? Shame on you – one of the finest outfits in the business. I mean, you even have the luxury of calling a 1-800 number in the US to book with them, where you get transfered approximately 114 times to different people, have to fax photocopies of your credit cards to another 14 people, and then email them as well just so they’re sure they can read them. Surprisingly…after all this…you actually do get a confirmation number…and when you check in at the airport things are flawless. Welcome to 1990 I guess? But…it all worked. Then, we got to the airport.
Honestly, the airport in Hargeisa was perfectly fine, and perfectly functional. Check-in was perfect, and we were informed that today we would have the luxury of travel on a relic – an Ilyushin IL-18D – a relic of an aircraft that is a bit of a legend from Soviet days. This plane was such a relic, I’m still trying to get details on its origins! Enough of that, however. Check-in was so good that our bags were tagged with proper electronic baggage tags, we got proper electronic boarding passes….and then off to passport control and security – which were honest, efficient, and only collected the fees posted on the wall. I was beginning to get a bit shocked at how anti-climactic this was!
Daallo Airlines Flight 159
Hargeisa, Somalia to Djibouti City, Djibouti
Depart: 10:00, Arrive 10:45 – later adjusted via e-mail to Depart 14:00, Depart 14:45 – flight time 45 minutes
Aircraft: Ilyushin IL-18D, Registration UP-I1801, Manufactured who knows when!
Seats: TBD, Printed as 18A and 18B
So, into the waiting hall where they were selling newspapers and food. THe usual sodas, crisps, etc, and then it was 14:00…and no plane. We found there were some plastic chairs out on the tarmac, so we went out there to have a sit and wait for our plane. Not much to see, but more interesting than inside!
Another hour came…and went…and still no plane. Eventually, we met an expat on our flight, and he was quite chatty. He lived in London semi-near Matt, and had good advice for us. You need to be first on the plane – the printed seat numbers mean nothing, and you should rush to the front of the plane…because that’s the only part that actually has seat belts! Oh, and this flight is always a few hours late because it comes from Mogadishu and there are frequently security delays! Eeek!
The plane finally came buzzing in about 90 minutes late, and only took about 30 minutes to unload all the transit passengers (they make them re-clear security or something) then the rush. Which wasn’t much of a rush. We followed our new friend to the plane, and were very very glad we did. We secured what would have been 3A and 3B had there been any numbers on the plane, and they both had seat belts. Unfortunately, we discovered too late that Matt’s seatbelt didn’t work. The buckle was broken…so he knotted it together….hoping it would hold in the event of…well, you know!
Due to no legroom, we put our bags in the bulkhead of row 1…and Matt got to play flight attendant (which he’ll never admit to enjoying) and stacked several DOZEN bags in the front row…and several in the aisle as well. TSA/CBP/etc would have had a fit, but the (non-existent) flight attendants didn’t care, and it kept our legroom free! Plus, we ended up with plenty of space. Seems all the passengers up front were expats living in London, connected in Djibouti to Dubai on Daallo, and then onto London on BA. They all knew the “front of the plane” trick – because it’s true, there were no seat belts in back!
Not much more to say…but a few notes on the flight: Takeoff was kinda like the bungee we did. Pilot was on the runway and off the ground before I could even get through one or two lines or prayer, which was merciful. Takeoff was smooth, not scary at all, and honestly…things felt “solid” unlike most airbus planes which are so light and made of carbon fibre that you feel a bit scared to be on them. Never once on this flight did the plane itself feel unsafe!
Food/Bev Service consisted of someone that came around with a bottle of water, and poured you a glass if you wanted…..no drama or excitement there. We arrived about 45 minutes after departure as predicted…so little more to do than post pics!
Haven’t been on a plane with 4 props in eons!
A couple views from the outside:
Only one more note on this flight. When researching the plane’s registration number, we kept finding out that it had been registered in Kazakhstan…about 5 times in 4 years….clearly registered to a known arms smuggler. What it was doing flying between Djibouti and Somalia who knows, but there’s clearly something quite shady going on here. No clue, but it got us there safely, for a reasonable fare. Then, it was onto Djibouti immigration….