It was February 2000 where I was working as the Webmaster for the Standard newspaper and the online edition team were about to wrap up at the late hours of a Sunday night. A call came informing us that a Kenya Airways plane had crash in the Atlantic off the Ivory Coast and they were asking if we had any more information. The team quickly stopped whatever we were doing and changed the headline of the paper in the next day scooping the folks down at Kimathi Street.
The short version of that story was that 169 people had died off the coast of Ivory Coast in the Kenya Airways flight 432. It was quite a traumatic not just the family and friends but the nation.
Fast forward to 2007 and yet another crisis for Kenya Airways as Flight KQ507 went down this time in Doula Cameroon with 117 people died. It was horrible. The pilot was blamed for the crash when investigations were done but still families from many nationalities had lost their sons and daughters.
Fast forward to 2013 and I got tweets on my time line in early July about a Kenya Airways plane that was coming through being diverted to Greece. The reason they did this was one of the smoke sensors in the cargo hold triggered a fire alarm while in Greece and for safety precautions they had to land.
This was followed by three days of drama as passengers complained bitterly that they were left to lie in an airport on the cold and no one was talking to them. They had lost days and possibly holidays and other opportunities.
A quick disclaimer. I don’t use Kenya Airways when I travel anymore ever since I discovered everything around the continent is cheaper if I go via Addis Ababa using Ethiopian Airlines. So I don’t think I could be considered an interested party.
What I do know is that I followed the story when the people died in 2000 and in 2007 keenly so people complaining that they were sitting on the tarmac has a different look to me. These people complaining were alive to tweet and write opinion pieces. No one seems to remember the heroic airline pilot who made the decision that may have ultimately saved their lives.
The communication could have been better from Kenya Airways without a doubt. However they were dealing with live people and not the case in Cameroon when they took almost a week to get information on the bodies of the passed away.
Did Kenya Airways mess up? Yes. But the reality is that people were alive to be messed up with. That has to count for something surely?