There was a time when a direct flight meant a direct flight and a time when the customer was always right.
After a pleasant stay in Lagos Nigeria, I arrived in the early morning, at Murtala Mohammed International Airport Ikeja Lagos Nigeria, to check in to what I had paid and thought was a direct Arik Air 6 hours return flight from Lagos Nigeria to London Heathrow Airport England.
After a short wait to check in I was directed by the Arik Air member of staff to look at the counter and read the notice. It said That Arik Air Apologised but the Lagos to London Flight would be diverted to Abuja before making the onward journey to London.
After reading the notice the member of staff also informed me that the airplane type had been changed from the airbus to the much smaller Boeing 737, which meant that my pre-booked seating arrangements had changed, I made sure that even though the seat number would be different because it was a different plane, I would still be at the front aile seat by the emergency exit as I’m over 6 foot 2 and need the leg room, this would later turn out to be a vital forward bit of thinking on my part.
As usual in these types of situations there was nothing else I could do, so I finished checking in, went through customs and all the checks which are numerous in Nigeria, and waited for the take off, of the flight which was scheduled for 10.40 am
All passengers boarded the plane on time as the flight was almost empty from business class right down to economy. I have never seen such an empty international flight.
Some travellers where less than happy firstly about the diversion to Abuja and secondly the change in plane, but they did not complain.
Except one woman who complained about the amount of legroom in the seat she was given. As you can imagine the woman was vocal and quite loud, insisting that they should give her a seat with a better leg room as the seat was smaller than the seat she was sitting in on the flight from London to Lagos.
In the process of her complaining to the Arik Air staff, one or two other female passengers started telling her to behave herself, or go and buy her own plane, which further annoyed the woman, as it was none of their business. Eventually the Arik Air staff gave her a different seat, it wasn’t as if they didn’t have countless empty seats to choose from.
Arik Air staff need more training or a refresher course in customer care, how to calm customers down and resolve a situation, especially in this case there was a lot of empty seats from top too bottom, they should have just moved the woman straight away instead of engaging in an argument with her.
As the plane was already taxing to the runway and the woman was already in a different seat, but exchanging words with the other female passengers, I was surprised to hear the Pilot come over the intercom and say, that if the woman continued with the same behaviour he was going to return the airport and have her removed from the plane.
The plane continued to taxi and to my amazement instead of taking off, the next thing I heard from the Pilot was that the cabin crew should prepare for landing. The next minute airline staff and some security officers ran into the plane and took the woman of the flight. Because of this we were further delayed.
In my opinion the whole situation had been resolved with the woman’s valid complaint and there was no need to escalate the situation and have her taken off the air plane. I don’t know which world the pilot was living in, the airline changed the direct flight from Lagos to London, to Lagos Abuja London flight, changed the air craft from Airbus to a Boeing plane, but passengers are meant to say nothing.
To rub salt in the wound, when the flight landed in Abuja only about 10 additional passengers joined the flight.
So this 3 hour delay and inconvenience in my mind was for nothing.
The lesson from this is, customers now days, do not have much rights when it comes to dealing with Air lines, and if you raise your voice, the pilot could throw you out of the plane.
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Posted on: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 11:15 pm
A Travel Tale of Arik Air from Lagos Nigeria.
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