As I mentioned earlier, booking tickets to Somalia isn’t easy. The airlines don’t operate frequently, there is next to no information about them online, not to mention anything about how to book. Thanks to a very helpful person I talked to on Flyertalk I learned about an airline called East African Safari Express who supposedly was the most reliable (i.e. the flights actually do go when they say they are going to) option. Took about 5 or 6 e-mails until they responded, but once we’d traded emails I found a date and time that worked and voila…it was booked. Of course, they only take payment in cash, and could you kindly show up in our office in Nairobi to do that?
Since we had barely 36 hours in Nairobi this was going to be tricky, but they agreed we could pay the day before. What they forgot to advise us was that the day before was a holiday in Kenya…and they were closed! Fortunately, immediately upon arrival we’d spotted their office, walked in, dropped several C-Notes with a shady looking guy in a back office…and had carbon copy tickets that were handwritten…things crossed out, changed, etc. Fortunately, all went well!
Arrival and check-in was quite quick and efficient, and there’s not too much to say. They insisted we check our bags, but other than that…it was just like a “normal” flight. Through security, and into a very unfabulous lounge thanks to Priority Pass, and then it was down to the gate….where we saw the first glimpse of our plane!
East African Safari Express flight 1823
Nairobi, Kenya to Hargeisa, Somalia
Departure 8:00, Arrival 10:00, Flight Time: 2 hours
Aircraft: Fokker F-28, Registration 5Y-EEE, Manufactured (approximately) 1985
Now, I say approximately, because I really can’t find a production list for F28s online. I found this aircraft has been passed around Africa for over 10 years now, after doing previous duty in the US with Allegheny, Piedmont, and eventually US Air!
All the checked baggage was laid out next to the plane, and before boarding you had to point yours out before they would load it. That was reassuring…at least you knew it was on board! That said, the flight itself was quite uneventful. I’d say it was 75% Somali diaspora and maybe 25% foreign aid worker looking types. They even served a “meal” on board…you’d never see THAT in the US!