In a strange twist of fate, Ryan Enslin learns that a spam-looking email is not necessarily a bad thing. Well, at least some of the time.
Sitting at my desk one morning, as a travel writer does from time to time, a bot-originated (I think) communication lands in my email inbox. Noting that it does not originate from a friend or colleague, I leave it be for a while and continue with the task at hand, rather proud of myself for the bout of discipline and focus shown.
I am busy researching angles for an upcoming trip to the archipelago of Seychelles, a spectacular collection of 115 islands dotted around the Indian Ocean, north-north-east of Madagascar. I’m looking for things to do on the main island of Mahé, noting that they have a Little Big Ben in the town of Victoria, which sparks a modicum of interest along my synaptic highways. It also dawns on me that I will fly in, and out, from Mahé with Ethiopian Airlines. ‘Wasn’t that email, the one I’m doing a good job at ignoring, from Ethiopian?’ I ask myself as a strange conversation-slash-debate unravels in my head in the time it takes a fly to cough. Maybe it was important afterall.
Focus and discipline bliksem out the window and I hunt down that email, a worrying amount of genuine spam having crept in since its arrival. I secretly admonish myself for less-than-optimal email inbox management but I find the mail of now-increased interest.
It is indeed from Ethiopian Airlines. And they have asked me to make them an offer for an upgrade to Cloud Nine, which I soon discover is their Business and First Class offering. Make them an offer? Don’t mind if I do.
And so the process began, one which would see me fly to Seychelles and back floating on Cloud Nine. I made an offer and, well, the next thing I knew I was sipping bubbles in business class.
As the flag carrier of Ethiopia, Ethiopian Airlines has been flying for over 70 years and is recognised as one of the African continent’s leading carriers, servicing over 100 international destinations. My flight is routed through Addis Ababa, with a planned layover at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, the major hub for Ethiopian Airlines. Flying Cloud Nine, I have access to the business class lounge to ease the stress of a layover.
There is something about being able to freshen up mid-journey, something I contemplate as I head towards the shower section in the lounge. A great meal, drinks on tap and power for my Mac means the layover is rather productive. Plus, I watched the sun come up over Addis Ababa that morning. Travel writer heart very happy.
On certain legs of the journey, Ethiopian cuisine was available in Cloud Nine, while on others, everyone’s favourite dishes are served. Having previously experienced an Ethiopian meal back home in Maboneng, I once again enjoyed some kitfo, served on injera, a traditional dish made from raw minced beef with irgo (a type of yoghurt) and mitmita, a rather strong chilli power.
The dish is believed to have originated in the southern region of Ethiopia, and is similar to steak tartare. Eating with your hands is the order of the day and is the best way in which to truly soak up a genuine Ethiopian experience, some 40 000 feet above the African continent.
The extra legroom and fully flat beds are what make time in Cloud Nine so exceptionally enjoyable. Or was it the bottomless bubbly? Let’s go for a tie on that one. But a good night’s sleep on the way home from my island hopping adventure was just what I needed after all that Seychellois sun.
The next time a spam-esque email crosses your desk, take note. I’m not saying that Nigerian prince actually has your romantic best interests at heart, but Ethiopian Airlines might just hook you up with a really sweet deal.
Follow more of Ryan’s adventures in and around Joburg here.