A Nigerian delegate to Rio+20 UN Conference forgot his camera on an Emirates flight to Dubai as he connected a flight to Brazil through the city. On his way from Brazil through the same route, he reported his lost camera to the Emirates’ crew. Within minutes of making his informal report, he was handed a package containing his camera. It had taken some eight days for him to make that report, but professionalism, integrity and the trust associated with even the most basic of airline services came through. Emirates airline put a smile on the face of this Nigerian who based on my experience with Arik Air Nigeria must thank his stars.
My own case pales to Chinese woman Mary Chen whose luggage was ransacked altogether as valuable jewelleries were made away with on her Arik Air flight from Lagos to Abuja. This is a reality that resonates with many Arik Air passengers. While it is almost impossible to get justice with these carriers, I’ll document all the cases here for reference purposes. The difference between Emirates Airline and Arik Air is not in that one employs people of integrity and the other does not, the difference is in their corporate culture. If Emirates employed a thief today, he’d never steal from Emirates passengers. Stealing is not in the Emirates’ corporate culture!
I boarded this Arik Air flight from Abuja to Lagos 16th June, 2012 to connect an international flight. The flight scheduled to depart at 14:25 eventually left just around 15:00, which is a relatively good time considering the fact that delays of over 6 hours are the norm these days. First off, we couldn’t find where to sit as the cabin crew informed us that it was ‘free sitting.’ I wondered why the order guaranteed with seat allocation was discarded for the chaos of “free sitting.” Most of the passengers were not pleased. During the flight, I read a book and discussed an article I was working on with my friend Azeenarh. She encouraged me to get started with the article already. At this point I picked up my ipad to write, trying to imagine what happened in the last minutes of the Dana Crash. I had done some 500 words when the pilot announced that we were almost landing and all the routine of sitting upright, putting out electronic equipment meant that I had to stop using the ipad. I put the ipad in the seat pocket right in front of me.
On arrival in Lagos, I helped Azeenarh with her bag which was under the seat in front of her, while others in the usual style rushed to go out. We took our time and eventually alighted from the aircraft. When we got to Allen Avenue, I realised I had left my Ipad in the aircraft. We quickly dashed to the airport and we were fortunate to find out that the aircraft that brought us was still on ground. We finally met one Lanre who was in charge of complaints as mine – “Lost and Found” is what they call it. “Lost and Gone” would be more apt based on my experience. His friend asked him in Yoruba if he had seen anything and he mumbled something which I didn’t hear. I didn’t like the fact that they were even speaking Yoruba in mumbled voices at this time and I told Azeenarh the comportment of the staff best compares with that of Lagos motor parks. Lanre went and came back and said “they saw the ipad and put it inside your bag.” Of course that could not have happened. How could you have put an Ipad in my bag when the ipad was not tagged? How did you know which bag to put it in? While we were arguing about this, he left to attend to other passengers who had even more interesting complaints. Mary Chen as stated earlier had travelled from Lagos to Abuja (Flight W3 155, 11:45 June 12, 2012) to lodge a complaint. She found out that her jewelleries (gold trinkets INCLUDING her wedding ring) inside her jewelry box had been stolen. She had checked this box in and it was obvious someone had found a way to open the bag, steal her jewelleries and left the bag as if nothing had happened. There were other people with complaints of theft as Mary noted when she made her complaint the first time.
Asked about making a report, the Arik Air staff with phone number 08077791490 (the official number for complaints such as mine and Mary’s) said there was no form to fill, there was no superior to talk to, and that just verbally telling him was enough. Essentially there was nothing to document the complaints. Why should someone who made a report a week after he had lost something just as valuable as my ipad, have his lost good returned to him within minutes of asking and I who made my report within 90 minutes of forgetting my ipad has to force Arik Air to do the needful? Lanre said they found the ipad and put it in my bag; that established the fact that the ipad was at least found. Emirates found the camera and kept it in place for the owner who claimed it on his return journey a week after. Arik Air found my ipad and claimed they had put it in my bag. The difference is why you can check in your luggage on Emirates airline and connect flights around the world and be sure they can be trusted to take care of even your lost good. With the other, your luggage is in danger on even a flight as short as Lagos – Abuja, even in a locked box like Mary’s.
I will be posting more reports on thefts such as this for now and would give special preference to Arik Air stolen goods reports.
PS: I was at the Arik Air Lagos local airport office yesterday. The crass man who now manages “Lost and Found” could not stop shouting at Azeenarh as I had left when he said they did not have my ipad. He boasted to her that if he had known I was the Japheth Omojuwa that was tweeting, he’d have asked to have me arrested. He never stopped shouting at Azeenarh. Whatever I did about this issue until now is nothing compared to what I will do in the coming days. Until I have my ipad returned, [email protected] is where I will be collecting reports of passengers pissed off with Arik Air. I will publish EVERYTHING. I am waiting for that arrest. Until then, they must enjoy their twitter trends for all the wrong reasons for now. It is the least I could do for a tool that served me well for fun, business and everything in-between. My online presence has drastically reduced; it has financial implications in itself. Now, Arik Air must pay too!
The hashtag on twitter is #ArikAirWhereIsMyIpad
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