2004 was a life changing year for me personally (again!).
I lost a lot of weight (over 20kg) without trying, lost a lot of years (according to everyone who sees me),
had a haircut, got married, traveled a lot, enjoyed myself, almost built a house (which burned down on Christmas day!) and had a few other adventures too excessive to mention here.
So that is the bulk of the year covered - just before Christmas we boarded a Cyprus Airways flight for Cairo - The staff were their normal complacent, mourgos (a kind of cheerless depressed state) disinterested selves, and we were surprised when presented with our 1 hour flight sandwich accompanied by nice metal knives and forks. 'Hmmm' we thought... security issues we think - I then pulled out the 12" pen-knife which had gone through the security checks without being picked up on. ( I am particularly annoyed at having a pair of good blunt ended miniature baby nail scissors taken off me on a previous flight). As I have made a fuss about Cyprus Airways before and have been called a liar we thought it prudent to take photographs.
Click to enlarge
The next faux pas was a week later when our two kids arrived as UM's (Unaccompanied Minors) at Cairo airport at past midnight. The paperwork was quite clear - to be delivered to me - their mother - and only to me (requiring a signature even!) The reality was that a bellboy from a nearby hotel went in and took them without being questioned or checked.. I was amaaaaazed. Wow ! good job it wasn't for real and he wasn't a child molesting kidnapper, good job we weren't hijackers, good job they take the money for the tickets up front.
That of course is an important issue as it effects the safety of others. What is not at all important is the service and attitude of those who present both tourist and business visitors alike, with their first experience of our famous hospitality. The last time we visited Larnaca airport it opened our eyes to the kind of treatment you too may expect.
First was the visit to the restaurant - hubby was in a hurry (surprisingly he had a plane to catch) there was no one in sight - he called out - there was no response - he felt mildly anxious (he was hungry) - he called out again. One of the customers who was noshing pizza grudgingly rose and ambled over - ah ! not a customer ! noshing staff. He asked her if he could get some service as he had a plane to catch - the response was ' Well why don't you go and catch your plane then?' She grudgingly served him a slice of pizza, at the cash desk he asked her name (thinking to give some well needed feedback) and was told it was none of his business, he took the receipt (which had her name on it presumably) and said it was his business as she was representing her company and he was a customer. There was a chap now hovering at the checkout who had been sitting with her smoking. He jumped in and told hubby mou that he was her boss - told him to relax and that he would sort out everything whilst trying to take the receipt away from him - he then came downstairs where I was doing battle with the 24 hour bank. It was closed. There was no note on the door and there were other people forming an irregular queue. I telephoned airport information and asked why the 24 hour bank was closed. The surly reply was that there was a note on the door... I was standing right there... I looked....no note...
I said so - the woman argued argumentatively that there was a note - she could see it from where she was - I pointed out a sign which stated a minimum transaction of two pounds per deal. - Ah that note..... Well where still is the bank staff ? Just then a chap slowly wandered to the door (pointedly ignoring the growing line of now anxious prospective money changers.) I asked him who he worked for, the bank or the restaurant as hubby mou had just pointed out to me that he was the same chap he had just encountered in the restaurant upstairs. It seems that this guy did in fact work for the restaurant, the bank, possibly air traffic control and was the local management for the whole airport.
I wanted 100 pounds in Euro's - he wanted to give me 112 pounds worth. Am I so difficult ? I persisted and eventually won, but only with sheer strength of will, a less bolshy person would have given up and done his bidding.
Unpleasant uncustomer service with a grimace. Well done yet again.
It is now the close of 2007 - I have sent numerous e mails, no one has yet replied with anything but nonsense, saying that someone will be in touch! I have been told that it is illegal to tape phone conversations, when I contact them by phone and say (as is a requirement) that I am taping the conversation so that there will be no misunderstandings.
I have not even received a full refund on the extra tickets yet - that is another unbelievable story which cost me 5 weeks of my life, 7 plane tickets and a near death experience - what hope for Cyprus airways and it's dreadful local reputation?
Not much I think.