I hate flying during festive seasons.
I'm used to people asking me whether I'm traveling 'home' for the holidays, anytime there's some festive season happening. (Like where I live is not my home. Whatever happened to home is where your head lies at least 300 days in a year?)
I'm used to responding in the negative. I'm also used to that reflexive weird look I get that speaks volumes of "Don't you belong somewhere/to someone?" whenever I respond in the negative.
If the inquirer is not patient, I return the look with a knowing smirk, and go back to whatever activity (or inactivity) I was engaged in.
If they are patient, I explain why I hate traveling during the Yuletide, Easter, Sallah and/or other holiday seasons.
I hate that rather than catching up on backlog of sleep, re-visiting my Agatha Christie collection, and binging on old episodes of Grey's Anatomy, I'll be running helter skelter to 'enjoy' the holidays traveling, get back home tired and burnt out, and plunge right back into work (Arrrrggggh!!!)
|The sea of beings waiting for their flight to be called, or rescheduled.|
I hate the struggle for breathing space with the sea of people, who would be multiplied by twenty from the usual traffic of human beings at the airport. The pushing and shoving and struggling for standing space. The hustle and the bustle.
Above all, I do not like the person/people Nigerian airlines turn me into this season. (Remember my ‘love-affair’ with one of them? Here)
I hate that all façade of the existence of Customer Service would be overtly flung through the window by their Customer Service representatives during this season. In which case they turn me into that 'mad black woman’, insisting on her rights.
I hate when they shift flights randomly and without forewarning, in which case they turn me into that miserable toddler, who just wants to get home, curl under the covers and suck thumb all night.
Above all, I hate when they say NOTHING. Not a thing. Just silence. And I'm seated at the airport...not knowing if my flight is canceled, delayed, or if I have personally been placed on a no-fly list. Without any inkling of when my ordeal will be over. In which case, they turn me into a refugee.
I am looking forward to a reunion this weekend. So I had to summon the courage to endure the trauma of airline palaver, in order to attend it.
Unsurprisingly, I found myself faced with the drama today.
While waiting on the queue to check in, a lady walked up to us on the queue and flatly announced to us that we were to be bumped to a latter flight, with three hour flight difference, because the flight we were supposed to be going on was full (due to a smaller aircraft being used).
In our usual Nigerian fashion, my fellow citizens grumbled silently and began to hurry to the ticketing point to get their flight details changed to that latter flight.
I am well aware that short of actually taking Airlines to Court, almost nothing is usually done in Nigeria, because the airlines are well aware that more often than not, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is basically a cute puppy that can be pacified at anytime, as against her counterparts in other parts of the world.
But I was not going to take this lying down. Before I would be turned to the toddler … before I would be forced to attain the refugee status, I was ready to fully exhaust the mad black woman.
I demanded compensation. I demanded compensation because I am aware that if the roles were reversed and I came barely twenty five minutes before departure, I would be denied boarding and be asked to pay through my nose for my flight to be rescheduled. I demanded compensation because the NCAA rules provide that Customers be compensated for shifted flights. I demanded that it was either I be allowed to fly with the flight leaving shortly, or be compensated for time sacrificed.
Hell, I caused a ruckus.
I made my demands, and the officer in charge (now turned friendly) explained that there was nothing she could do. (I believed her. She is just the messenger. ‘Management’, the people we do not see, who sit behind the beautiful oak tables in their air-conditioned offices are to blame).
I told her I believed her, but I needed my demands met. And I was bent on being a thorn in side of the airline via social media, and seriously engaging NCAA this time (knowing that with the ongoing Bauchi Airport-ladder crisis, NCAA has hibernated its puppy status, seeking scape-goats for the public outcry).
In the meantime, I checked in for the latter flight, and began typing this post to vent.
Then I heard my name called over the Public Address system and reported at the check-in counter, I was told that a seat had ‘become’ available on the earlier flight, so I was bumped back up.
Morale of the story: DEMAND. Especially if it is your right.
Demand for good Customer Service. Demand that service providers keep to their word. Demand for good governance from and by public office holders.
You may not get it. Demand all the same. If you demand hard enough, it will come to you.
Let it be on record that your voice was heard. Do not be one of those people who would just grumble in the privacy of their rooms, and move on ‘for the sake of peace’. The ideal peace we seek is only attainable when we as a people understand that change will never come until we are actively involved in ensuring that the right things are done.
We are the change we want. We are the change we need.
Never be afraid to demand. And you SHALL receive.
P.s. I am going to break this blogging addiction for real this time, and commence on my one week ‘leave’. I promise, this IS my last post for the year.