From the Magazine: How to book an air ticket (in Nigeria)

 By Lekan Olanrewaju

The process of travel from Nigerian airports can be an exercise in testing your patience. After close trips circling Lagos, Delta and Accra, Lekan Olanrewaju just had to rant. 

No matter how prissy and flawless the diction with which the customer care officer tells you “it will be resolved shortly”, chances of you getting your money back are about as likely as a sex tape of Hillary Clinton turning up on YouTube.

 There’s a national holiday so close you can smell it, you decide, despite that little voice in your head chanting “Boko Haram”, that it’s high time you made a trip to the Federal Capital Territory. 

 Travelling by road would be much cheaper, and also affords more of an opportunity for sight-seeing, your gut tells you; but who wants to go on Nigerian roads? Are you kidding?

So you proceed to log on to the website of the airline you’ve chosen. You have to fill out a form and provide ridiculously trivial details which may or may not include where your parents were when they had their first kiss. Unfortunately you’re naïve enough to express joy at the fact that you can purchase a ticket online – one instance when “online payment not available in your country” does not shame you.

 You continue – even more naïve as to go ahead and pay without first falling to your feet and lifting your hands to the high heavens to pray that you aren’t charged three times, or only twice, if you’re lucky, for the transaction. And as our prayers in this part of the world, violent as they may be, seem constantly to be ineffective, you might as well start typing up a pointlessly complicated letter for your bank to revert the transaction which you already know is a waste of time, as you are well aware that no matter how prissy and flawless the diction with which the customer care officer tells you “it will be resolved shortly”, chances of you getting your money back are about as likely as a sex tape of Hillary Clinton turning up on YouTube.

 But of course you proceed to deliver this letter to your bank by hand, because for some inexplicable reason, every email you’ve  sent to the bank has been ignored. Somehow you manage to do this with a smile on your face, as you imagine it can’t possibly get much worse.  Weeks later, as slooooooowwwwwly you realise there’s no hope of getting your money back, you reminisce on the process of stripping down to your bare essentials simply to get past the bank’s metal detector system, and ask yourself “what was the point?”

 Ah but there’s still the issue of the ticket itself which you still don’t have – you see, the airline for some reason decided to make it impossible to print it after booking, but instead offered to do you the huge favour of emailing it to you and having you print it out then.

 Still haven’t received this email a day before your flight? Don’t worry, all you have to do is show up early to the airport with your booking confirmation and pray the ticketing officer is in a good mood and you get away with only a scolding for not printing your ticket earlier.

 By the time you’re in the process of boarding, whatever feelings of negativity you have should have vanished. Not because the system gets better, but because you’ve resigned yourself to your country’s motor – “if we can frustrate you, we will.” If you have any money left after being forced to pay an exorbitant amount in the name of “airport tax” – which is levied on you, if you are coming through some airports, just before you enter the lounge, long after you have paid for your ticket – then for your own sake proceed to purchase whatever regimens you can from an airport lounge, as the even more exorbitant price of the flight ticket, which happens to far surpass minimum wage by the way, does not cover in-flight refreshments.

 Hold your correct ‘change’ by the way: as it is in the Oshodi molue, so it is in the rickety hot airplane. Did you hear the sound of the engine from you back seat by the way? And did the catty hostess hiss at you? Aw, lucky you.

 Oh and if you’re not sharp enough to scramble for a window seat, seeing as the system will most likely be “free-seating”, thus rendering the seat numbers on the ticket absolutely useless, be prepared to enjoy the wonderful sensation of the refreshment trolleys hitting your arms repeatedly.

 And don’t expect any form of apologies from the flight attendants – take it as therapy. In fact, you should probably thank whoever it was that had the bright idea of using trolleys too big for the alley.

 Also, do not dare to question over-excited co-passengers who might pull out their phones and begin to make calls before the plane has fully landed. They’ll probably punish you with the darkest scowls they can muster; and you already know the hostesses don’t care anyways. You’ll be lucky even to get a grunt from her as you disembark.

If you’re lucky enough to receive your baggage with no hitches (Ha. Ha. Ha), proceed to make your way out of the airport to engage in an unending wrestling match with cab drivers who want to do you the grand favour of taking you to your destination regardless of how many times you tell them you just want to find your brother who’s waiting to take you to his house.

Well at least you landed safe – your plane didn’t have to turn back, you didn’t arrive one hour after schedule and the president’s departure didn’t delay you mid-air for 30 minutes.

I could add that you will get home and find out “NEPA has taken the light”, but why heighten your misery? At least, you’re alive. Y!








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One comment

  1. This is a priceless article…….I love the comical sincerity

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail