Daryl Balfour

The lack of customer care from African airlines and their inability to respond to passengers on social media, beggars belief. As a specialist tour operator and world-famous wild-life photographer, Daryl Balfour flies to Kenya several times a year, and has 100 or more guests flying into the country over a season so he decided to give Kenya Airways a try as they had added new Dreamliner aircraft to their fleet. This is his experience …

My flight up, which I upgraded for my wife Sharna and me to Business Class was very good.  When it came to the return I checked online, saw the scheduled aircraft was the Dreamliner, and again upgraded three seats – mine, Sharna’s and my nephew Stevan who’d worked the Mara season with us so I thought I’d give him a little reward.
On arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport the morning of our flight, September 29, there was great confusion and consternation. Then Kenya Airways staff admitted we’d been downgraded to Economy even though I could show proof that my upgrades had been approved and my Visa card debited.
It appeared there may have been some important politicians wanting to fly that morning. Also, the aircraft had been downscaled to an old 737.
Fortunately, we  managed to get our check-in luggage accepted at the Business Class allowance (Note: Kenya Airways allows Economy passengers only half the allowance that SAA allows).
Once we were seated on board the aircraft cabin staff offered Sharna and me seats (not together) up front but left our nephew Stevan in Economy. So much for the kid’s big treat. We were told by the cabin attendant to apply for a refund once we got back to South Africa.
KenyaAirways have given me the runaround ever since. I sent them copies of tickets, boarding passes, the letter of approval for the upgrade saying my Visa card would be debited … and still I wait.
Every time I contact them, I get redirected to a website to fill in and supply the same details all over again.
Now, more than eight weeks later I’m thinking I have to give up (probably what KQ intended by ignoring me). I will certainly NOT use Kenya Airways again. I will also warn my guests against this airline as customer service and satisfaction are clearly low on their agenda. You have been warned!

Here’s what others had to say:

  • Garth James: Owner Operator at City Flights and Buchanan Executravel‘ This airline (Kenya Airways) messes up many people’s plans. Sadly Ethiopian Airlines and RwandAir are not much better. It’s tragic that Africa cannot amaze and surprise.
  • Samantha Reinders Had an assignment earlier this year which involved 7 flights with them, back and forth in the region. Each was 4-9 hours delayed. No apologies ever. No explanation ever. Worst customer service ever. Never again.
  • Onno ten Brinke I almost missed our first safari together, Daryl, because of Kenya Airways. They had given my seat to someone else and told me to fly the next day, even though I had been checked in and had a boarding pass for the seat. Thankfully with a lot of shouting I managed to blag my way on, but I certainly will not fly them again if there is any way around it. BTW – the toilets were out of order for about half the flight (and Bamako – Nairobi is a loooong flight)…. It is a while ago, 2005, but it seems not much has improved.
  • Susan Harvey Spice I flew Kenya Airways once.  Never again. A passenger died soon after leaving Nairobi. They laid him in the aisle under a blanket next to us all the way to Frankfurt.
  • Christopher Slevin I dealt with Kenya Airways as a tour operator up to a few years ago when I retired. Can’t tell you how many times people were re-scheduled, delayed and treated very poorly when they complained… nothing’s changed.
  • Margaret Baran Kenya airways is the worst airline I have ever travelled on … They claimed to have no knowledge of the extra baggage I was carrying ‘free of charge’, a suitcase full of essential equipment for a school in a deprived area of Kenya. They tried to charge me £200 to take the case on the plane. I had also been booked into their club class lounge but they had ‘no record’ of this either.
    I ended up waiting in dirty and horrible conditions, with no refreshments available, at Jomo Kenyatta airport for 11 hours. Some of my fellow passengers had to sit on the floor as there were not enough seats available. Would I ever fly Kenya Airways again? No way!
  • Read about crashing customer care at Ethiopian Airlines