• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

How did we get here?

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Couple of weeks ago, I had planned a trip to Port Harcourt. I wanted to return to Lagos the same day so I decided to go with the first flight on a certain Saturday. I was a little late to meet up with the first flight as planned; so I had to get a ticket for the next flight which was scheduled for 10.35am.

Since I had a couple of hours before the scheduled time, I decided to have a snack at the Chicken Republic at MMA2. As I walked into the eatery, I ran into an old friend who kept me company for the two hours I had to wait for the next flight. She was travelling to Uyo. We shared old memories over a bottle of Coke and Chicken Republic’s Chizzwizz. We had so many things to talk about such that I didn’t know I had five minutes left to be on my flight to Port Harcourt.

I hurriedly gulped the content of my Coke bottle and walked briskly to the departure gate. Before I could approach the security gate, there was an announcement that my flight had been delayed by an hour and a half; in other words, we won’t start boarding until 11.35am. I couldn’t believe what I just heard. A 10.35 flight had been moved to 11.35! While I was still musing over the time change, my friend walked up to me. She told me her flight too had been moved to 1pm!

Finally, a few minutes past 1pm, the boarding for our flight to Port Harcourt was announced. I left my friend behind while she was still waiting for her flight to Port Harcourt before she connects Uyo by road. I wondered when she would arrive in Uyo considering the fact that she was unsure when her flight would finally depart Lagos.

In the last few months, I have read on social media many unpleasant stories about passengers’ frustrations over cancelled flights. I was once told by a friend that an airline cancelled four flights on a certain Thursday and passengers were left stranded. And may be nothing was done to compensate them! You know, if you had not had an experience, you cannot truly tell how bad a situation is. It is for this reason I have decided to share my experience with you dear, readers.

As I finally got on my flight to Port Harcourt that day, I could not help but ask myself how we got to where we are as a nation. How did we get to a level where airline operators think they can do whatever they like? What happened to our rights as consumers? Are there no authorities to ensure that the airline industry is run properly?

Why would an airline think it is doing a consumer a favour by flying her to her destination when the service is not free? So many questions bothered my mind. I could not find answers to them. I can’t imagine how many appointments and business opportunities that would have been lost as a result of cancelled flights. These days, you cannot plan to be in Abuja or Port Harcourt for a 10am meeting!

Sincerely, airlines need to begin to take their business of offering quality service serious. It is no joke to spend as much N30,000 for a ticket and you don’t get value for paying so much.

We now live in a system where the consumer is no longer king. Her right has been trampled on. Nobody cares about how she feels. All that service providers want to do is grab her money and flee. They are not concerned if she gets value for her money or not.

The service industry needs to take a new approach to how it handles its operations in the New Year. Consumers can no longer stand their excesses. They need to begin to run the industry according to global practices. The Nigerian consumer deserves quality service!

FUNKE OSAE-BROWN