So, the first part of this post published a few days ago talked about me going to Lagos for #TechPlus2016 and all the interesting things around that abi? That post is here if you missed it (you’re welcome).
I remember saying that the journey back home was a different story in itself, and I am here now to share it! Ready? Let’s do it!
So, we had been so well treated by the organisers, so well taken care of, I was fresh from church and that really lovely message by Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, and I was looking forward to returning to Abuja, excited and refreshed and getting back into the arms of family and loved ones. Sounds simple abi? Lol… I don’t think I’ve been more mistaken in my life!
Our flight was for 3pm, we left for the airport at noon. Got there about 1.15pm and we sashayed to the Business Class check-in counter. To be fair, I noticed there was a crowd and wondered aloud about the efficiency of the staff and why people weren’t getting catered to quickly. Only for us to be told at the Arik counter that they weren’t checking anyone in, and that we should wait.
Huh? I made the mistake of mentioning to the staff that we were flying Business and then she said, “And I’m telling you that no flights to Abuja from Lagos have left here today; there is no aviation fuel”. My heart sank so quickly I felt it would take my stomach with it. Brethren, that was the beginning of what I will now call ‘drama in the highest’.
Nana and I took ourselves to a restaurant within the check-in area to get a seat, apparently seats were only given to paying customers. So we bought the most ridiculously priced jollof rice we’ve ever had, and we got seats. After we’d spent an hour there, we got in touch with the organizers for #TechPlus2016 and they said they’d send a car for us, and we’d just fly back to Abuja the next day. Bless them.
We decided to go to the other terminal to see if we’d catch a flight back (you can tell how eager we were to get back home abi) and it was even worse there. Airlines were pulling flights off their websites, touts were reselling tickets for passengers who couldn’t wait hopelessly for hours on end; it was a hot mess.
Funny story. One guy bought a ticket for a 5.10pm flight and then called his friend (maybe in the next terminal) to come get a seat on that flight. Friend rushes in and goes to the counter where he is told there’s no flight for that time. His friend comes to the counter and asks how that is possible seeing as he’s just purchased a ticket for that flight and then he’s told to hand over the ticket and get his money back, that there’s no flight at that time. Lol! Funny but not funny at all I tell you.
We spent another hour at this terminal and after turning down the touts who wanted us to buy economy tickets for about N45, 000 each and we wouldn’t fly with our names but the names on the tickets, we decided it was time to take our hosts up on the offer to stay in a hotel close to the airport and try to fly early the next morning.
By this time my spirit and soul was ruffled; I was tired and the fact that all of the discomfort we’d endured hadn’t produced a flight was even more frustrating.
We jumped in the car and headed out of the airport when we got a call that two Arik flights had just landed from Abuja and they’d be going back. Whattttt? We sped back to our original terminal and circa 40 minutes of pushing, pulling and shoving later, had our boarding passes. Phew!
Then the queuing began. I stood on a queue for about 50 minutes straight, brought us to about 7pm or so, and then it was time for everyone to board. Arik officials suddenly said they would board folks from the 11am and 1pm flights. God bless the two young men who insisted that they board all their flights or none of them. The simple question was, how do you ignore the folks who’ve been waiting from 7am and pick and choose who gets to fly?
That argument took another 30 minutes or so and plenty more pushing and pulling. There was a woman with a little baby who started screaming about wanting to get home; apparently she had been stuck in the airport since the wee hours of the morning (or was it the day before) because there was no flight to PortHarcourt. I heard she’d just come into the Lagos from having the baby in South Africa and had gotten stuck there. No showers, nothing. My heart went out to her.
We finally took off about 8.10pm, and touched down in Abuja past 9pm. God is a great and merciful God. And Arik is an absolutely rubbish airline.
PS: Did I mention they had threatened to call security because we were being ‘unruly’? Lololol. Jokers.