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Banky W: “My Thoughts on the Arik Air Debacle

Recently, footage from a camera phone has surfaced online about the dire circumstances that passengers suffered prior to take-off, on board an Arik Air flight from Lagos to New York; I was one of the passengers.
For anyone who has not seen the footage, it’s available on YouTube and various News websites and blogs. However, for purposes of this write-up, I will recount what happened. The flight was scheduled to take off at about 11:50pm on March 31, 2014. Boarding was completed on time, and all the passengers settled in their seats and prepared for the flight to begin. However, there seemed to be a delay in operations because although the ground crew had exited the aircraft and the cabin doors were shut, we weren’t moving.
The pilot announced that there was a small delay in the ground crew operations on the plane, and that we should be patient as the flight would depart ‘in a few minutes’. The problem was, the air conditioning was not turned on. Midnight soon passed, and there was still no A/C, neither did it feel like we were going anywhere, anytime soon. Passengers were vigorously fanning themselves, asking for water and ice from the crew, and doing whatever they could to stay cool and hydrated. The reality was that the heat in the plane was quite frankly unbearable.
The entertainment system is a joke; there are only a handful of TV shows and films available for viewing, and they are the same exact films/shows that were available years ago when they started flying to NYC. They literally have not changed the movies in YEARS. They just flat out refuse to upgrade what they have, and seem content to let it deteriorate. There is still no frequent flier program, even though for years they told passengers to hold on to their boarding passes, as it would soon commence. ‘Soon’ has taken an eternity with no end in sight.
Attention to detail is crucial, and very often, it is the difference between greatness and mediocrity; between growth and decline, success and failure. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out some of the positives that the airline still has. For one, I’ve found their Nigerian staff to be very polite, courteous and helpful. The food quality is still great – I have no complaints on anything I’ve tasted so far, other than the fish pepper soup – yuck! The duck however, was fantastic, as well as everything else I’ve eaten on board.
Generally speaking, their cleanliness standards have not dropped either, thank God. And lastly, the direct flight to NYC remains as convenient as it gets for someone like me who sometimes needs to save time spent in European layovers. I’ve witnessed them make positive changes before due to the suggestion surveys passengers filled out; my hope, in writing this, is that they do the same again, fix the issues and give us a Nigerian Airline that will be a source of pride, not pain. – B.W.
PS: Not everyone needs to be in NYC like myself; I suggest to the powers that be, to try and partner with an American carrier, so that once you touch down in NY, you can easily transition to a local flight to take you to your final destination. PPS: I apologize for the extremely long article. I have even more to say but this will have to do….




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