Toronto to Addis Ababa to Kampala

We landed in Toronto pretty whacked out from the overnight flight. For some reason the plane was extraordinarily hot – so hot that even Marie was too warm so you can imagine how the rest of us felt – and that plus consistent turbulence made for a less than restful flight. So we were all pretty draggy when made our way to the gate for our Ethiopian Airlines flight from Toronto to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

When we arrived at the gate, loudspeaker announcements were telling all travellers connecting from US or Canadian flights that they needed to have their documents checked or they would not be able to board. So we checked our documents and were told that the flight would be delayed by 30 minutes due to the plane arriving late. That was pretty much the most exciting part of the morning. Well that and a Tim Hortons conveniently located right at our departure gate!

While we were waiting, our 5th student – Noah – found us so our intrepid group was now complete. I know there are a lot of downsides to cell phones and whatnot but you simply cannot argue with their convenience for travellers as Noah’s mom was able to touch base with me as soon as we had landed to let me know that Noah was making his way through security and would make his way to the gate. As it turned out he never needed to contact me once he got to the gate because our travellers were eyeing up all the solo teen travellers and he soon figured out that the dishevelled group of kids staring at him were probably us…

I’d like to say that amazing things happened during this part of the trip but if you’ve ever spent time waiting at a departure gate, you know that not much interesting ever happens. This morning was no exception. We waited. It was not exciting. And in true airline fashion, our 30 minute delay ended up being well over an hour. So bonus waiting. yay!

Eventually we started boarding – wait for it… wait for it… yes… from the back of the plane first!! Angels and ministers of grace rejoice – an airline that loads the back of the plane first!! Unlike Air Canada’s ridiculously class-based system of loading the front of the plane first then working towards the back which results in a) us peons having to make the walk of shame through all the comfortably seated business class folks and b) entirely predictable traffic jams as people needing to get to the back of the plane are held up by people nearer the front trying to squeeze themselves and their carry-on bags in… it’s sort of a national pastime to beat on Air Canada and they’re really not that bad but their method of boarding a plane just doesn’t make any sense at all…

Our group’s seats are spread all over the plane so we ended up boarding at different times. Again, nothing exciting happened. No one had any document issues. No one stole someone else’s seat. Nothing. We just boarded the plane. Sat down and waited for the pain to start… Thankfully, we’re flying on a 787 Dreamliner – a somewhat hyperbolically named plane but definitely one of the more comfortable ones out there. But don’t be deceived. Nothing is comfortable for 13 hours…

I made a quick check before we took off to make sure everyone was okay with their seats and settled. Darcie won a small lottery prize ending up with a window seat with no one beside her… which helped make up a little for being basically at the very back of the plane. Which is exactly where Mukaday and Bethany ended up… right at the back… no one was particularly happy with their seat assignments but what can you expect after we got to peek into the Cloud Nine seating area as we boarded (individual pods that make into full flat beds for sleeping).

The plane took off. We did not crash. We have now been flying for 9 hours and 45 minutes. We have 3+ hours left. We’ve managed to sleep on and off. We’ve been fed lunch (a quite tasty chicken pasta) and a sandwich and have been plied with all manner of drinks. The flight attendants are friendly enough and our fellow travellers decent sorts. But there are crying kids. And bad smells. And the endless monotony of long distance travel that no amount of seat back entertainment can overcome. And on that note, I’m going to take a break from the blog and go back to reading or watching a movie or maybe composing my opus… after all I have time…

I’m back. A few more hours have passed and we are now on the last leg of our trip flying from Addis Ababa to Entebbe. The remainder of our long flight passed without incident. Which when you’re flying at almost 1000 km per hour at 38,000 feet is probably a very good thing.

When we landed we deplaned from the front and back of the plane – another concept Air Canada seems oblivious to – and then entered the semi-controlled chaos of the Addis airport. We ended up having to go through security again (the best we could tell it was because some of the kids walked past an imaginary line) which led to a whole lot of water being guzzled in record time! From there it was to the waiting area, then to the gate, then to the bus to the plane. The only wrinkle here was Darcie’s seat. For some reason, when we had our boarding passes printed in Vancouver, her seat had changed from what we’d booked. It wasn’t a big deal and we figured we’d change it when we arrived in Addis. But we were more than an hour late arriving and the airport was a bit chaotic so we decided to just leave it… but when she went through the gate document check, it reverted back to the original seat we’d reserved. But they couldn’t print the new boarding pass… which led to her and I being pretty much the last people to board the plane. But she did end up sitting with the rest of us so it all worked out for the best.

The flight from Addis Ababa to Entebbe was uneventful (although the lunch was pretty darn good) and we soon found ourselves navigating our way through Entebbe airport… which I’ll write about in a separate post.

3 thoughts on “Toronto to Addis Ababa to Kampala

  1. Kirk
    Posts are great. You have a future as a travel writer. Feels like we are along for the journey.


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