Arik is a privately-owned Nigerian airline that has been in operation for seven years. It took delivery of two new A330-200 widebody aircraft in 2013 and is employing them on its Lagos-Johannesburg and Lagos-London routes. The aircraft features a revamped Business Class that has fully-flat beds and a dedicated bar area.
I arrived at O.R. Tambo International Terminal A at 06h50 for my 09h35 flight to Murtala Muhammed International. Conveniently, the Arik check-in desks were directly in front of the main entrance. After having my passport checked and bag weighed, I proceeded to check-in, where I was second in the queue. A slow computer system meant a wait of a couple of minutes, but otherwise the process was seamless and I was also through security fairly quickly.
Arik uses the Shongololo Lounge, which is about five minutes’ walk from passport control and halfway to gate A18, where the flight was departing from. It’s a solid Business Class lounge, with complimentary Wi-Fi, hot and cold food, a wide selection of drinks, clean toilets, TVs, lots of seating, plug points, and a range of print publications. I would have fancied some scrambled or at least fried eggs for breakfast, to go with the macon, mushrooms, tomato and fritters on offer, but hard-boiled eggs was the order of the day.
Our flight was called five minutes early at 08h45, and by the time I got to the gate many passengers had already boarded. This meant I went straight through to my seat, where my jacket was taken and I was offered water, fruit juice and canapés consisting of a leek and gruyere frittata and a snoek paté-filled pastry tartlet with capers.
This aircraft has two classes – Business and Economy – with 15 ‘pods’ making up 30 seats in Business in a 2-2-2 configuration, and a bar area in the middle consisting of a pair of two-seater couches, magazine racks, three bar stools and a bar counter that was home to a selection of beers, wines and spirits. My seat featured a foot rest and storage space underneath it, and I was handed a blanket and toiletry bag. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sample the in-flight entertainment, as it was declared ‘faulty’ and unavailable by the cabin crew. I liked the fact that there was in-seat power, but a three-pin square option meant that I needed an adaptor to work throughout the flight. Unfortunately, the Arik staff did not have one on offer – perhaps something for the airline to consider on its Johannesburg-Lagos leg.
My food order was placed and take-off was bang on time at 09h35. I promptly received a starter, which consisted of fruit juice, a warm pastry of my choice, Greek yoghurt and a mixed fruit bowl. I opted for the mixed grill over the leek and swiss cheese frittata and the blueberry and ricotta pancakes. It consisted of a chicken medallion, bacon, fillet steak, mushroom, tomato, potatoes and tomato relish. I wasn’t that impressed with the bacon, but both the chicken and fillet were done to perfection and very tender. I opted for peppermint tea and water, and the very attentive steward handed out bottled water later on. For lunch I went for the chicken schnitzel sandwich over the steak sandwich and it came with cheese – pretty tasty too. The solid tray table also made for a comfortable work space.
We landed on time at approximately 14h15 local time – a flight of five hours and 40 minutes. I didn’t go through passport control, as I was connecting to Accra. Arik, though, provided a service that saw me met at the door of the plane and accompanied all the way to the Business Class lounge, with next boarding pass in hand. Excellent service!
A vast improvement on the old planes Arik used to operate on this route, with good food and service. Most importantly, however, the comfortable lie-flat seat means a decent night’s sleep for the return flight from Lagos, which departs at 22h45. They must, though, get their in-flight entertainment sorted out.