Shameless Greed, Corruption on Air Namibia Flights

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I was recently in Windhoek, to do some medical exams and to get away from Luanda’s routine for a few days, taking advantage of the short University’s holidays. The choice for Windhoek is due to several reasons: it is right next to us; Angolans do not need entry visa and the prices for lodging are not the worst. I decided to travel in business class, with Air Namibia, because the company had places on the dates I chose to travel. I had a fright when I found out the price of the ticket: one thousand and five American dollars, that due to high exchange rate of 78 Kwanza per dollar which is equivalent to an increase of 40 dollars per ticket. Taag’s price for a ticket is about 2% lower, moreover the Angolan company uses an exchange rate closer to the real market value of the USD. Taking all into account, the value of the ticket for this route has increased by just over 50% in the last 9 years, which corresponds to a frightening annual increase of around 4.8%. One thousand U.S. dollars is an extremely high value to pay for a trip of 2 hours and some minutes. Seeing that for two return tickets to any destination that is about one hour away, we pay in Angola, for business class, around 600 U.S. dollars. In Namibia we pay much less! And we must consider that in terms of expenditure, a flight of two is less expensive than two trips of one hour. This means that in the route Luanda/Windhoek/Luanda, airlines profit almost 68% above the maximum permissible. Taking into account what is charged more to the consumer, this is a matter that should be quickly revised by these airlines. In regard to Air Namibia, the price of a return ticket to Luanda is 78% more expensive than for a similar trip, in the same class, to Johannesburg or Cape Town (South Africa) and vice versa. This is happening not only with Air Namibia. Angola is amongst the most expensive destinations in the world, which is caused by the pricing policy adopted by the Angolan government and implemented by the Angolan airline TAAG. If we wish to promote development and tourism in Angola, these exorbitant prices must be promptly reviewed and amended. At Luanda’s airport I had no problem. I was well treated at the border, where for some time now, the nationals, no longer have to fill the entry visa form. I left 500 kwanzas at Customs, which I had with me in case I wanted something to drink and, for the first time, the official on-call (despite the arrogant attitude, pretending to read the newspaper while talking with me) expressed his readiness to give me a receipt, for reimbursement of the said amount when I returned. I was amazed, because I have already travelled abroad dozens of times and I had never been presented with the hypothesis of reimbursement of any kwanzas left there. This is a sign that the services are really improving In the room ‘Welwitschia’, the service regarding drinks is good, reasonable when it came to sandwiches, but there was only biscuits for some … The trip to Windhoek took place without incident, on July 4. On the in-flight magazine I saw the possibility of doing an early order of duty free articles for the return flight. I filled in the “pre-order form” and I handed it in to the flight attendant, who assured me that the articles were reserved in my name for the return flight. I did not have to worry anymore with the last minute presents. The return happened on the scheduled date – 11th July. A few days before, I re-confirmed my flights in Windhoek, this was in case the TAAG ‘virus’ had already infected Air Namibia and my name was withdrawn to benefit an employee’s friend (as it happened to me recently, in Lisbon, on a flight from our National company, after I had re-confirmed my flight). I took care of the refund of the GST at Windhoek’s airport. This time the finance official working at the airport Customs did not take any of my receipts, as it happened on other occasions, where they hinder customers with Angolan passports. This time, I noticed that the Namibian State stayed with 9% of the GST that I should have received, and then the bank took another 10% of the value of the check issued in my name. Ultimately, the GST that should have been returned to me, was no longer 15%, but only 12% of what I had paid for the items intended for use outside of Namibia. Therefore, I paid 3% of GST, when I should have paid 0% … Once on the plane, returning to Luanda, I sat down on seat 2C – as my own seat, 2A, was occupied by the passenger of 2C by mistake, but I did not question of me sitting next to the window, as I intended when I chose the seat 2A when I confirmed and did the ‘check in’. After we took off, I asked the air hostess serving business class if there were “duty free” articles reserved in my name. After checking, the answer was no, stating furthermore that any request should be placed with her. I found this strange, since I had completed and delivered the proper form, mentioning the date and flight number. I could only wait and see if there were the new items I wanted. I filled a new order, mentioning the 6 articles, totaling 190 U.S. dollars: a) Fl 407, valued at 35 U.S. dollars, b) Fl 422, valued at 35 U.S. dollars, c) Fm 009, valued at 30 U.S. dollars, d) Jc 046, valued at 55 U.S. dollars, e) Cy 039, valued at 15 U.S. dollars, f) Cy 003, valued at 20 U.S. dollars. Here is the content of the conversation with the air hostess, at the time of the delivery of the order I requested: Me: Here is my request. Host: And one for me? Me, bewildered: Sorry, I don’t understand … Host: One of these is for me? Me, after a few moments of perplexity: Well, give them all to me. I will then give you something. I reflected about it and thought I would tell her to get something that cost up to 30 dollars, giving her 220 U.S. dollars instead of 190 U.S. ‘Shame maybe she need to give someone a present and has no money to do so’- I thought to myself. Minutes later the helpful air hostess returned with the articles. Later, I saw that two of them were not exactly those I asked, but she simply did not say anything about it, as if she had provided the service from her and for which I had to pay the stipulated amount. Then the air hostess tells me that I had to pay 260 U.S. dollars. How 260 U.S., if the value of the order was 190 U.S. dollars? Why had she decided that I would give her 70 U.S. dollars? I thought quickly if it was worth to fight back, but I chose to hand in the value that she asked me and complain with Air Namibia later. As I was on 250 U.S. dollars, looking for a 10 dollars note, she tells me with all the cheek: “There are 10 U.S. dollars missing. I gave it to her and thanked the “kindness”. Only later I realized that the on board sales are made by someone else who is not this air hostess, but the truth is that I was probably the third person she served. Later she served others that also travelled in business class. The passenger who travelled in place 4C (he was from 2D, but switched at the request of another passenger that wanted to sit next to a friend), an Angolan banking official, also handed in a request to the above-mentioned air hostess. He had to ask her for his 10 U.S. dollars change back, to which she blatantly replied: “They are for me “. He insisted repeatedly, until the corrupt air hostess, against her will, had to give the change back. Already the passenger seated on 4A paid for six perfumes, but only received five. The said air hostess told her that the sixth was for her, as well as the change, which was due. Only after a lot of complaining, the passenger received the sixth perfume and the change to the corrupt air hostess’ displeasure. But the air hostess of flight SW172 on July 11 did not stop there. As there were two seats unoccupied in business class (3C and 3D), while the plane was taxing towards the runway, she went to collect two ladies traveling in the economy class, suggesting that they come to sit on those places. They simply complied, without having understood the intention of the said lady and of her working partner in business class. During the flight, the said air hostess went to the lady, who was sitting on seat 9C (in economic) and moved to seat 3C (in executive), and asked her to pay 50 U.S. dollars for the exchange of class. The passenger, incredulous, agreed. She gave her 100 U.S. dollars and when she asked for the change, the air hostess told her that the other 50 U.S. dollars would be used to pay for a similar change for the other passenger placed into seat 3D. After the intervention of another passenger, a lot of complaints and exchanging words in Portuguese and English, the said air hostess returned the 100 dollars, but she still had the audacity to go and ask another Angolan passenger for this money. The steward, who also served the business class, never intervened. He saw what was happening, but made as if he did not understand. But when the air hostess had to argue with the passengers of seats 3C and 3D, he pulled away to give them total privacy. It seemed he was oblivious of what was going on, but the truth is that he spoke several times with his colleague after each of her actions, reason to assume that he was aware of what was happening, but that they agreed that she would be the one who would do everything. Another incident which demonstrates the lack of professionalism and complete lack of consideration for passengers, happened at the beginning of the journey with the said air hostess. While distributing the hot cloths through the passengers, she dropped one. She picked it up and promptly handed it to the passenger sitting at 3F, without any shame. Several passengers noticed the incident, as well as the steward, who accompanied the air hostess. Moreover, while the steward listed in full the two meal options, the air hostess asked only if the passenger wanted meat or chicken. Unlike her colleague, the said air hostess treated these passengers with contempt and without any deference as should be expected of her. After arriving in Luanda, there was another incident at the airport. Passengers had to wait 55 minutes for their luggage, as Air Namibia prioritized the delivery of over 500 items sent to the Embassy of Namibia in Luanda, for the international fair – an immeasurable absurdity, exceeded only by the fact that (as usual on flights of this company departing from Windhoek) the executive class passengers have to wait longer for their luggage than passengers of economic … Finally, returning to the unscrupulous air hostess, whose attitude made me write this report, rather than a simple complaint addressed to Air Namibia, I have already dealt with corrupt people, some of whom without the minimum of ethical principles and without the minimum professionalism. But I had never witnessed anything like this: a mix of total absence of scruples, total shameless and conniving that reaches the unimaginable. An attitude so low and infamous, that you can only respond with total contempt. An unimaginable behaviour, from someone, that calls herself an air hostess and, hence, should place the passenger’s interests. Okay, Angolans are renowned worldwide for their spending, but this cannot be reason enough to think that every Angolan that we see will give us everything we want, without receiving anything in return or receiving only contempt and disregard in return. There is a minimum of common sense. They told me that in Namibia, the corruption indices have been increasing visibly. But I did not expect to encounter such shameless, such greed for stolen money so barefacedly as in the case of that said air hostess (who only put on the jacket with her name at the end of the journey, but concealed it when the author of these lines passed by her). Nevertheless, she, as a coloured Namibian, is conveniently identified, so that Air Namibia can take the necessary steps. This because me and other passengers affected, hope to be able to travel again with this company, without incidents and without being subject to such inconsideration and to shameless robbery. Angola is one of the most expensive destinations in the world. The Angolan government has to change this rule, if you want to invest in development and tourism. Disgusted Angolan