UPDATE: I was compensated with a free ticket back to Abuja which I used on the 2nd of January, 2012. Asides this, I have received numerous phone calls and tweets from the Air Nigeria team (Customer Relations) to console me since this happened.
CAUTION: Very unusual of me, this post is a very long one. I just thought I should explain everything, though I couldn’t due to space and time.
Yey!!! I experienced my worst moment ever yesterday at the Abuja International Airport (Nnamdi Azikwe Int’l Airport). Here’s how it happened:
On the 20th of December, I went to Air Nigeria’s ticketing office at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja to book a ticket from ABV-LAG. On my arrival there, I was told “our server is currently down, so you won’t be able to book a flight here”. Without wasting much time, I dialed Air Nigeria’s call center and fortunately, I was able to make a reservation for Thurs, 22nd December, 2011, 1:50pm flight with the reference number EFCGJY. The only challenge was that I couldn’t pay for the flight due to the dysfunctional server. I was then advised to proceed to the ABV airport to make my payment. Habba, I screemed! How can I spend 4,ooo naira on transportation just to pay for a flight. Considering the cost and the stress I’ll pass through, I told the attendant that I’ll just come back to Transcorp to make payment the following morning. It was okay since, my ticket will not expire until 9pm the next day(21st December).
The following afternoon, I called the call center to confirm if the server at the ticketing office at Transcorp is now working. “It’s still down sir”, a lady told me. “Okay, can you help me extend the expiration of my ticket?” I hastily asked. She agreed and the new expiration was set for 11am 22 December, 2011.
On my way to the ABV airport on the 22nd of December, 2011 at some minutes past ten, I just decided to call the call center again to confirm if my ticket is still open. I was surprised when I heard this “Sorry Sir, your booking has expired”. Ha! I screamed! “But I was told it’ll expire at 11am.” “Its electronic, so it automatically expires at exactly 2 hours before departure”, the lady told me. My flight is actually 1:50pm, so I’ve got more than two hours here and this is just some minutes past ten”, I explained. “Sir, since you’re on your way to the airport already, I’ll advice you to just make a new booking there”, the lady said. “Thank you for calling Air Nigeria…”
Getting to Air Nigeria’s stand at ABV Int’l airport, I was told that the server is down. Imagine, here again. To cut it short, I was not attended to until some minutes past eleven and the ticket was confirmed expired.
“So, can you help me book the next available flight to Lagos?” I asked. “Sir, all our flights are fully booked except the one for 9:20pm, hope you don’t mind that?” Considering the usual Friday rush and the fact that I needed to get to Lagos yesterday, I decided to book the 9:20pm flight on my PC (because their server went down again). So, all I did was just pay. So, I decided to wait at the airport till 9:20pm (due to the cost of going back home and the stress involved).
About 2 hours later, I was informed that “the flight will now leave at 9:40pm and not 9:20pm. “That’s still okay, I thought” I was just wanted to touch Lagos. Friends, at exactly 9:37pm, a 1 hour delay announcement was made. Some minutes before eleven, *ding dong* “Attention please…” Another 1 hour delay announcement. At exactly 11:27pm, we were told that the aircraft coming to pick us will arrive at exactly 12am. 12am came and went, we didn’t hear the arrival announcement of any aircraft.
THIS IS THE MAIN PART YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS
*ding dong* “Attention please…” At last, this is the announcement of my flight VK 58. BUT I was shocked to hear something like “…Flight VK 54 and 58 passengers should please proceed for boarding”. They’re merging 2 flights together on the same plane. Everyone rushed and started struggling (the Nigerian way of doing things). They’re not to blame, they’ve been frustrated. Some of them arrived before 11am.
The queue moved fast and I was somewhere at its tail. Hey, Stop! The controller said and left without giving any reason for the sudden stop. Yey!!! The aircraft is full. Ha! “Are you guys serious at all?” “You must be joking” began to roll out of the mouths of the left over passengers, including me. At the end, a woman with 2 kids was allowed to board and a white man who claimed to be an Aircraft Engineer was also allowed to board. The white man will be sitting with the pilot (he actually requested that, mentioning one technical name I can’t remember now).
So, there were just four (4) of us left. A young man later approached us to apologize. He promised to get us on the first flight to Lagos the following morning (Friday) with preferential treatment. He also promised to give us a free ticket anything we’re ready to clam. Trust me, we all rejected this. “You just can’t compensate us with that”. “We have to get to Lagos tonight”.
After the long argument, 3 of us agreed to go with the first flight while one demanded a refund. “Sir, so where will we sleep”. “I can’t go back home tonight” (Transport cost and the stress). “Well, there’s space in the office if you don’t mind”, he said. Accordng to him, he confirmed if the V.I.P. lounge is open, but it wasn’t. As I type this, I am sitting on an office chair with a desk in front.
It’s just not comfortable for me. I can’t even sleep. The painful part of it is that I didn’t sleep overnight yesterday with the hope that I’ll rest when I arrive Lagos. I have been awake this mid night. I have watched my co-passenger changed directly for close to 20 times in an uncomfortable manner. I think we deserve better than this from Air Nigeria.
SO, HERE ARE MY QUESTIONS FOR AIR NIGERIA
- Why was my ticket cancelled before the agreed time?
- Why did they have to merge two flights together without making adequate provision?
- Why was the Controller on duty rude to the passengers?
- Why couldn’t we get a better accommodation since they kept us behind?
- Why did the aircraft left with a left-over passenger’s luggages?
The last time I booked Air Nigeria, I was at the airport for 7 hours. I eventually didn’t go with them. Well, here are some pictures of Air Nigeria’s accommodation for us tonight. Click on each of them to view. I snapped them with my laptop’s webcam.