On April 19 ,2023, I boarded a Green Africa flight(Lagos to Owerri) and we were dumped by the airline at Port-Harcourt Airport instead!
How it all started
On March 27, 2023, I booked the flight from Lagos to Owerri via a traveling agency. According to the flight information provided on my e-ticket with booking reference no: R8N2RG, the flight was to depart the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, on Wednesday,April 19, 2023 at 13.20.
Sadly, that flight was rescheduled from 13.20 to 15:20 without any prior notice or an apology. We still didn’t get to start boarding until about 15.45. The 1.20hr flight lasted about 1.45hr minutes midair before the pilot announced (after a previous announcement that we were about to land) that due to turbulence, he could not land at the Sam Mbakwe Owerri Airport and needed to take us to Port-Harcourt Airport for refueling.
However, when we landed at Port Harcourt Airport, rather than fly us back to Owerri, we were asked to disembark at some minutes past 18.00 without any reprieve.
The high spirit that marked the beginning of that flight when the pilot announced that he would be flying his parents for the first time in his career which drew applause from passengers gave way to a mix of anger and trepidation.
While we were grateful to God that there was no incident despite the turbulence, the response from the Green Africa crew was abysmally poor, to say the least, and smacks of the height of gross insensitivity.
At touchdown, came the first announcement to wait for information,then passengers were locked up in the plane at the tarmac for over 15 minutes without ventilation or air-conditioner! Then, came the outburst over heat, growing darkness and lack of information on the next plan.The air-host(esses), stood/sat unfeeling staring from one aggrieved passenger to another, not a word of comfort from them.
It took the rising rave and rants of passengers over the shabby treatment( with some threatening to sue the airline) for the pilot to offer to return interested passengers to Lagos. He insisted that he would not go back to Owerri. I found that strange because my first flight ever, over a decade ago,an Enugu-Abuja flight,I think it was Arik, had a similar issue. Due to turbulence,a 45- minute flight stretched to 2hrs and the pilot had to go to Lagos Airport to refuel and returned us to Abuja thereafter.
These ones, their own reaction was more like a ‘bolekaja’ situation, typical of Lagos danfo experience where, when the vehicle breaks down on the road or the driver and conductor run foul of the law, passengers on board who must have paid their fares are left to either vent their lungs out and go their different ways or fight. From their body language to their very words or lack of it, you could see the ‘danfo-rised’ attitude ( you know when, a danfo driver stops at the middle of nowhere, gets down and opens his bonnet and start hammering away at the engine without caring a hoot about how passengers get to their destination.)
Cries by passengers to either return them via the flight to Owerri or provide them a motor vehicle to take them there by road to Owerri fell on deaf ears.
For me, particularly, it was a numbing traumatic experience. I didn’t know Port-Harcourt much,been there only once. I was going to Owerri for the first time for a personal matter. Not exactly Owerri, my final destination was a community of about one-hour drive from Owerri. When I booked the flight,I had concluded that I would be able to locate the place before sunset. Conscious of the prevailing security situation in the South-East,I was agitated. So were other co-passengers, especially the females.
How do I navigate? I had an appointment to keep in Imo State the next day, Thursday 20,2023 and returning with the airline that night to Lagos was not an option.
I did disembark and walked forlornly into the dark night but one mama that I had chitchat with while waiting for our flight told me she would not. She had a heavy load. Told me earlier that she paid 12k to get it checked in. I never stopped wondering how she coped with the situation, returning to Lagos with her loads. I just hope God sorted her out.
That uneventful flight was my second with Green Africa, my first was a Lagos-Akure-Lagos, mid 2022, on an official business.
What will you tell me if you hear another kepu kepu that Uche, nwa Akolisa, is planning to board Green Africa to anywhere again?
Uche Akolisa fbk wall…https://www.facebook.com/uche.akolisa?mibextid=ZbWKwL