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Jennifer Nagu: Pause…Before You Buy that Airline Ticket

Jennifer Nagu

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Inside my tiny apartment in one of the suburbs in Lagos, I struggle to book a 0700am flight to Abuja. I desire an early morning flight, so I can meet up with a visa interview for 0900am tomorrow. Resetting my wireless connections, I begin to scan through airline sites, looking to select the best available options. I plan to make comparisons and come up with a final choice.

I must select the safest, most customer friendly, and affordable flight. Safety and customer service is my primary criteria. How do I make this choice? I do not want any jagbajantis this time; no cancellations, delays, excuses, baggage losses, or worse.

I experienced these in the past, and it was so unpleasant. Doing this, my mind drifts back to a friend’s experience on a Port Harcourt Bound flight from Lagos.

For the purpose of this article, I’d call my friend Joe and the Airline, Airline B. It was a terrible experience. He had recounted his experience to me over a bowl of cereal.

That fateful Tuesday morning, Joe woke up feeling like a billion dollars. He had been invited for an interview with a multinational in Port Harcourt. His initial plan was to go by road, because of his wife’s fear of air travel. Susan dreamt 2 years ago that Joe was involved in a plane crash – that had sealed the deal. No air travels… over her dead body!

But Joe chose to travel by air that day. He arrived at the M.M.A 2 Lagos as early as 0600am. He had to make it to Port Harcourt before 10am. He couldn’t risk arriving late for his interview. What’s the harm in flying today? If God be for me, who can be against me? He defied Susan’s warnings – women and their irrationalities.

Firstly, they experienced a one-hour delay on ground Lagos – no prior information, no apologies. However, by 0730am they were air borne. In all fairness, the take off was pretty smooth. Joe had dozed off 20 minutes into the flight, from fatigue of preparing for his interview the previous night. They were due to land in another 20 minutes. Joe couldn’t wait to get off the plane, out of fear of the unknown. But of course he had to play it cool.
Excuse me Sir? Joe was awakened by the feminine voice of the Air hostess. Can you fasten your seatbelts, as we are due to land very soon. He buckled the seat belts, waiting for further instructions. 5 minutes became 10 minutes; and for some reason, they kept hovering and hovering. No landing. Nothing.

Tension in the cabin could be felt like a spiral tornado. The voice of the captain came through the public address system, after forever. They would be diverting to Benin. The weather had gone bad in Port Harcourt international airport, and Visibility was beyond the minimal landing requirements.

Joe’s bladder had suddenly become full. The pang of fear, cut deep like a knife. Susan had warned against this? Could this be the beginning of the end? So many questions raced through his mind. The Alhaja beside him, had visibly begun to chant out words of prayers.

After 30 more minutes of extra flight time, they had landed safely in Benin. Benin Airport, by Joe’s passmark was a 50 percent. Remembering he had one more hour to make it for his interview in Port Harcourt, made him all the more nervous.

Joe frantically searched for any airline representatives to relay the next course of action. He had to be in Port Harcourt by 10.00am. By now it was about 9am. It was not until after a whooping 30 minutes, that two airline staff nonchalantly walked in, assuring everyone that a new airplane would arrive Benin, to move them all to Port Harcourt. By this time it was too late. They were left at the airport, with no further information till the new airplane arrived.

Fast forward to the time Joe went to retrieve his baggage in Port Harcourt; He realized that the airline staff had mixed up his baggage, and his baggage had been left sitting in Lagos the whole time!
By this, I am awakened to my reality of booking a sane flight from Lagos.

Sanity is customer service. Sanity is safety. When flights are cancelled, we must get polite and sincere explanations. When baggage goes missing, we must get sincere apologies as well. This is as simple as it gets.

I may not be able to tell what goes on in the airlines with their operations and engineering, but I can tell how much customer service goes into moving me, from Point A to Point B.
Book Wisely.

But, who can blame me? How could I have known? With trust and a silent prayer I book the most passenger friendly and affordable flights that I find? Aviation safety would not be what I can measure as a layman. I can only pray.
Click click, my online travel agency page opens up.

Photo Credit: Pablo Hidalgo | Dreamstime.com

Jennifer Nagu is a Lagos based Freelance-writer, editor and Aviation professional, specializing in Aviation, wellness and travel related matters. She has published work with notable media platforms across Africa, like Ynaija of the Red media group, Guardian Nigeria Newspaper, New York based wellness publication Thrive global, founded by mogul Arianna Huffington and Ndalo media's Habari Magazine. She holds a degree in communications from Covenant univerity and an IATA diploma in Airline Quality diploma from Geneva.

14 Comments

  1. Is it a Scrabble word? Even so ...

    October 27, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    “what goes on in the quirms of an airlines engineering and operational fabrics.”

    Er, what’s a “quirm”? Or, “quirms”, please?

  2. prec

    October 27, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    You should have put the name of the airline! These people treat us like this because they know they will get away with it. We need to protest, boycott, ban them, the only thing they understand is when start losing business, money. It’s ridiculous especially that Arik with their local flights. God forbid I fly with them ever!

  3. pipi

    October 27, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Please give me air peace anyday anytime, say no to arik…. i will only feel arik when someone tells me why i would fly an airline that would charge me the most (that’s twice the price of aero and airpeace), delay my flight without explanation, horrible customer care, horrible looking in-flight plantain chips with smelly oil i can go on and on. In conclusion please airpeace increase ur routes and u would kick arik out of the market. Stupid Arik using stupid differentiation with offering and value meanwhile Air peace is using a low cost strategy and offering serious value ( free wifi at the waiting lounges, nice in-flight snacks, good customer care, on schedule flight and cheapest ticket ever)… arik makes me angry that’s all

    • Me

      October 27, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      Arik is just the most annoying ever!!! I wonder why they are still in operation. They delay you and their pilots drive like agberos. I remember my flight with them to South Africa. The pilot just got everyone panicking (dont tell me turbulence pls), and immediately we hit ground everyone started running out. I have vowed not to use them since then.

      Jenny darling! Nice article!!! Your hommies r proud of u

    • Tincan

      October 27, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      Ahahahahaha, aaaaah, everybody started running out of the plane – that made laugh..

  4. Kevwe

    October 27, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Yaaay!!!

  5. Grace

    October 27, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    I given to AIRPEACE,best customer care services,good reception,no delay,time keepers just name it. The worst is AERO and ARIK

  6. Timi

    October 28, 2015 at 12:41 am

    I also attest to air peace service. They are always on time, affordable and reliable. Where they board from (old domestic airport) is also so sane and peaceful.. I love them.

  7. Ms.Praiz

    October 28, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Hi, Jennifer Nagu,
    I need your email address; what other means can I communicate effectively with you.
    My email; [email protected]
    Thanks,
    Ms. Praiz

  8. mrsJem

    October 28, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Serves him right! Many men see their wives as being irrational… If only he listened to his wife!! He should have travelled by road the previous day, booked a hotel or stayed with a friend and got to his interview venue on time!! Impatience!! Curiosity!! #storiesthattouch… If i’m his wife eh, i will yab him… hehehe and comfort him though. Hehehe

  9. Chi!

    October 28, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Airpeace is d best among d rest. I can testify to dat. pls use it people!

  10. Great Lady

    October 28, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I can bet Airline B is Arik. Very overrated airline. I wonder who still patronises them.

  11. Dele David

    October 28, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Nice…

  12. JADE

    October 28, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Let me tell you my story, i bought a ticket on ARIK in december 2012, our flight was for 10:00 am on a saturday Lag-PH. That day was my friend’s trad which i came to Nigeria specifically for; I got to the airport at 8, went to check in and the lady told me the flight was full, i was like huh?full ke? how? why? but i bought and paid for a seat and i have my ticket, she said don’t worry we have an 11 am flight for the excess passengers, she proceeded to check me in and asked to go on into the departure hall, my dear people of God, we waited for that 11 am flight till 12 midnight. No info, no apology, no nothing. Considering most of u did not eat brekkie that morning before heading out. children were cranky and mothers were anxious, fights started breaking out, arik staff were beaten, airport staff fought with, when the plane eventually came at 12:00 am, people started running into the plane, and the people scheduled for the 2:00 pm flight were told to step out of the plane. for where? they said the will seat on the floor but they must leave lagos for ph, after much cajoling we eventually took off by 1:30 am, meaning i spent 17 hours in that airport! shoudn’t i have just gone by road? Since then ehn, no more ARIK for me. They really need to ban that airline

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