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. But this sector still uses the airline’s older B737-800.
As I had connected from Johannesburg, I was fortunate enough to have my luggage checked through to Accra and even had my boarding pass placed in my hand by a very helpful Arik staff member, as I stepped off the plane from Johannesburg. This fortunately meant that I bypassed security and passport control at Murtala Muhammed International, which can be a bit of a lottery.
The Arik lounge is on the first floor of the international departures building, approximately five minutes’ walk from security. I tried out the complimentary Internet and it was easy to navigate and use, whilst the connection speed was also good. On offer at the lounge: desktop Mac computers, hot and cold drinks and snacks, in the form of cheese and biscuits, samoosas, sausage rolls, sandwiches etc. The lounge also has a variety of seating, with bar stools, couches and small tables, along with clean toilets.
I didn’t hear my 17h00 flight being called, but once it the proposed boarding time (16h00) had passed, I decided to head to the gate. The gate number, though, had changed and the public address system shortly informed me to walk from D32 to E52, a journey of about five minutes. Once there, a short wait was followed by boarding, which included another bag check. However, Business Class passengers were ushered onto the plane first. Once onboard, I was offered water, orange juice and a selection of six newspapers.
This aircraft has two classes – Business and Economy – with 20 seats in Business in a 2-2 configuration either side of the aisle. It was a comfortable and large leather seat, which reclined about halfway – a flat-bed seat is a waste on this route anyway, what with the short flight time. Thereafter, it’s a question of whether you prefer the aisle or window seat.
We took off approximately 15 minutes late, but with a promise from the pilot that the hour-long flight would only take 45 minutes. Food and drink was served fairly promptly, due to the short flight time. I went for the chicken and rice, over the beef and rice, but the chicken, whilst tasty, was far too spicy for me. For lovers of hot curry, this is for you! There were in-flight entertainment screens in the armrest of the seat, but the attendant informed me that it isn’t activated on the Accra-Lagos route.
We landed five minutes late at approximately 17h05 local time (Nigeria is an hour ahead of Ghana). The arrivals process was seamless, arriving through what looked to be the side door of the building and quickly moving through passport control, thanks to being front of the queue. A few locals I spoke with later complained that passport control is not large enough to accommodate a couple of flights arriving at the same time, but I had little trouble, although it is a cosy space and could get congested. Thereafter, baggage collection was also pretty speedy and a short walk through customs and down a ramp brought me to the front of the airport, where my airport shuttle driver awaited. Kotoka International has an open-air front concourse with seating and a coffee shop or two, whilst taxi pick-up takes place to the right, through a short passage, as you exit the terminal.
All very straightforward and solid, and I particularly liked the Arik transit assistance, which ensured I moved from one flight to the lounge and onto my next leg seamlessly.