Nigerians on air – Tolu Ogunlesi

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This piece is inspired by the sad story of British Airways cabin executive Joanne Wickenden, who recorded a video that went viral. In it she lamented the ways of Nigerian Travelers (more like the Economy Class Gang, actually), saying, “All the Nigerians are gonna be there like ‘gimme Coca Cola, gimme me beef, why you have no beef left? I want beef. And I’m just gonna be there like, ‘Sorry sir, we ran out of beef.”

She should never have filmed it in the first place, and definitely not while in a BA uniform. But hey, you and I know that in terms of the Absolute Truth she locked it down like 110 per cent.

Nigerians are a special people. Nigeria is a special place. And nowhere else is this more evident than in an Airport. Where two or three Nigerians are gathered, Nigeria is there in their midst, of course. Nigeria is a state of mind, before it is a place on the map. As soon as an Airport designates a departure gate as being for a flight headed back to Nigeria, that place becomes Nigeria. Shush, don’t argue!

Below are, in my opinion, the commonest sources of friction in Nigerian Economy Class, the International Edition.

Luggage Size/Quantity:

Excuse Me Ma’am, you can’t take four pieces of luggage on board as hand luggage. I’m sorry but you just can’t. Says who? It is your own that is always different. [Insert competing Airline] does not treat us passengers like this. I’ve been flying this route since Nigeria was a British Colony, and carrying my bags like this. It’s not your fault, it’s my fault for asking my agent to book your airline. Next time I will respect myself and stick to [Insert competing Airline]. Oya what are we going to do now? All these bags contain valuables o, the last time I flew you people 15 people on our flight couldn’t find their luggage when we got to Lagos. I don’t trust you. So what are we going to do? Oya please help me, I will put the bags under my seat, I will not take another person’s overhead space. Oya please I beg you in the name of Almighty.

Luggage Compartment

Whose bag is this? I said whose bag is this? Silence. Bags start being shifted around. Heysss Heysss don’t touch my bag o! Don’t [expletive] touch my bag! So you knew it was your bag all along but you were silent when I was asking. Were you deaf or just pretending? Why is your bag here? See where your seat is, see where your bag is? Arrant nonsense! Look if you touch my bag I swear thunder will strike you dead! You’re an old man, respect yourself please. If you want extra space for your luggage maybe you should buy a business class ticket next time eh? I said don’t [expletive] touch my [expletive] bag! Are you mad? You’re the one that is mad, you and your generations preceding and succeeding! You will tell me why you’re in 64D but your bag is in 65 compartment!

Reclining Seat

Tap, tap, tap. Please shift your seat forward. You’re disturbing me. Oga are you a learner? Is this your first time flying? How can you say I shouldn’t recline my seat? Did you buy my ticket for me? Abi what is this arrant nonsense you’re spouting? Oga all that one is grammar, turenchi! I said move your seat forward or else! Or else what? Do your worst! Be behaving like an illiterate. The oyinbo man that put a reclining seat on the plane, did he put it for decoration? Ehn? You Economy Class people your wahala is too much. It’s not your fault, it’s my fault that I couldn’t get my usual Premium Economy seat on this trip. Nonsense. If I recline my seat you too recline yours. That’s how it’s done!

Chicken or Beef?

Hello Sir, Chicken or Beef? Come again? I said Chicken or Beef? Which one has Jollof Rice? Give me the one that has Jollof Rice. Wait wait wait, come back here Madam. You said Chicken or Beef abi? There’s neither Chicken nor Beef in this Jollof Rice. What kind of nonsense is this? Don’t you people have any quality assurance in this airline? Or do you think you’re doing me a favour by serving me food? Did I not pay for it? Is it not my hard-earned money? I’m sorry Ma’am – the Jollof Rice is the vegetarian option on today’s flight. The Beef Option comes with Mashed Potatoes, while the Chicken comes with Pasta. The Jollof Rice is accompanied by a vegetarian curry. Veh-gih-gini? *Cackles loudly* Is this a joke or what? Look at this face well – does this look like the face of a vegetarian? Ehn? Tell me. You people are the cause of your own troubles. You will be serving vegetarian food on a plane full of Nigerians, you will now be wondering why your airline is not doing well. Please change this thing for me and give me something that has beef. And next time better use your sense and combine the Beef and Jollof! Jollof that we’re even managing in the first place – you’re serving us Ghana Jollof and trying to pass it off as Naija Jollof, SMH!

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