Uganda airlines regrets sale of nsenene aboard flight



Uganda Airlines has condemned the conduct of one of its passengers who sold grasshoppers, locally known as nsenene, aboard flight 446.

The incident, which has since gone viral on social media, happened before the airline’s Airbus 330-800Neo departed for Dubai at Entebbe International Airport on Friday, November 26th.

The male passenger, in videos circulating on social media , was seen selling grasshoppers for 10,000 shillings in a transparent polyethene bag.

It is evident that some of the passengers were excited while others acted in disbelief or ignored what was going on.

The airline said the incident was unfortunate and that the passenger, yet to be identified, is warned. “No one should be exposed to an unruly market experience on our flight.

The unacceptable, disruptive behaviour prevents the performance of critical duties of the flight crew.”

In a statement issued today November 27, the airline says “this happened at the time our passengers were boarding, and it was disruptive. We don’t condone the acts of the passenger selling nsenene and low standards of serving it to people who were buying it.”

The airline adds, “We will not take this conduct on board lightly because it undermines the spirit of the National Carrier….we are in talks with passengers involved and if there is another occurrence of such conduct on Board, the passenger will be off-loaded without further consideration.”

The airline however says the incident has made it consider adding nsenene on its menu for regional and international flights. This will be on request, and it will boost the incomes of the people involved in the grasshopper value chain and also Uganda’s tourism industry.

Some of the local brands currently on the menu include Uganda Waragi.

Public Reactions

The incident has attracted mixed reactions from the public, with some supporting the move while others have castigated the airline for failing to control the passengers involved.

One of the sources told our reporter that the incident could have exposed passengers to food poisoning and high chances of contracting COVID-19. “Imagine 50 passengers complaining of a stomach upset after eating nsenene on board”

Secondly, “the seller was not wearing a face mask, some of the excited buyers crowded around him as some passengers were boarding the plane. To make matters worse, the airline crew were not seen trying to control the situation,” the source adds.

“It was a fun experience, but this was not professional because the passenger brought Kikuubo market style of selling nsenene to the plane,” Irene Nalwoga says.

Nalwoga, a frequent traveler and Managing Director of Renewills Tours and Travel, says this incident has tainted the image of the airline and the airport. “How did a passenger board with a large quantity of nsenene as hand luggage with all the security at the airport?” she asks.

“But we cannot blame the passenger because he took the initiative and has made money,” Nalwoga adds. “But the airline crew should have protected the image of the airline by taking charge after this entrepreneurial passenger started selling nsenene to the excited buyers,”

Some of the airline staff, who spoke on anonymity, however say Ugandans are undisciplined whenever they board any of the flights operated by Uganda Airlines.

“The crew could not do much because many passengers were buying the grasshoppers. You know some Ugandans could have even fought and harmed the crew had they tried to stop that man from selling nsenene.”

The same staff member adds, “Some Ugandans think that they can do whatever they want on the plane because this is a national airline, especially those on the Dubai flights. Most of the Dubai passengers are business people who think they can sell even matooke on board. But you will not see them behaving like that when they use other airlines.”

Others suspect foul play. “Whoever allowed this passenger to check-in and go through the boarding security checkpoint with this large volume of grasshoppers wants to ruin our reputation.”

Another source agrees, saying, “No patriotic Ugandan can allow such a thing to happen. but we shall do what we can.”

Meanwhile, Vianney Luggya, the spokesperson at Uganda Civil Aviation Authority-UCAA, says “the entire episode will be investigated.”


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