Arik Air Boeing 737-800NG Economy Class

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Background

Arik Air had its beginnings in the 2002 vision of Nigerian businessman Sir Arumemi-Ikhide, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the airline transported its first passengers. 2008 saw Arik commence its first regional service to Accra and the same year saw the launch of the airline’s first international long haul route to London Heathrow. Arik operates mainly from two hubs at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. The airline operates a daily return flight between Johannesburg and Lagos on a Boeing 737-800NG.

Check-in

This took a fair amount of time, due to the large number of people checking in huge amounts of luggage – apparently the norm for flights to Lagos. When we eventually got to the front of the queue, we were treated to a very helpful staff member, who took care of our luggage and ensured that we were aware of the fact that without corresponding luggage ticket stubs in Lagos, we would not be able to exit the airport in Nigeria. Suitably taken care of, we duly made our way to the News Cafe at O.R. Tambo International Airport, where I can recommend the Eggs Benedict, if you’re on a morning flight. Just make sure you’re at the check-in desk well in advance, as one member of our party was turned away, having arrived an hour before our flight departed.

Boarding

This was a fairly straightforward procedure, although the presence of my suit bag did seem to cause some consternation among the flight staff, with me being quizzed three times by different staff members, as to where I planned to hang it. Fortunately, one of them eventually took the initiative and found a home for it.

The Seat

I was fortunate enough to get the aisle seat in row 11, the first row in Economy Class, just behind Business Class. However, the trade-off for the additional leg-room was the regular contact the drinks and food carts made with my kneecap, coming through the curtain separating the two classes. Unfortunately, the staff involved didn’t seem too aware or concerned by this, which was a bit disappointing. The 737-800 we flew on is configured with 16 Business Class seats and 149 Economy, but because of the weight restrictions flying out of O.R. Tambo International, due to the heat and altitude, Arik cap their load at 136 in Economy Class.

The Flight

No complaints about the flight itself, but the service was poor. It took what seemed like an eternity for the drinks cart to both serve all passengers and clear the aisle for people to use the bathroom. That wouldn’t have been a tragedy, if the cabin staff were friendly and helpful. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Having eaten before take-off, I declined the food offering, which was accompanied by a standard drinks choice.

Arrival

If you haven’t arrived at Murtala Mohammed International before, be aware that it can easily take you two hours to exit the airport. That includes standing in a queue for the first passport control official, before you reach the second passport control official, before a long wait for your luggage. There are two carousels, but neither indicates where your luggage will pop out. So, best to take up an elevated position on the nearby stairs, so that you can survey the two carousels. From there, you have to negotiate the officials checking your Yellow Fever cards. Make sure you have the exact date of your injection stamped in there (which must be at least 10 days before flying), or else you’ve got problems. Thereafter, it’s the officials checking your luggage ticket stubs at the exit, and then you’re done!

Verdict

Fine, although the cabin staff customer service needs some serious attention.

Contact

Web: arikair.com