8 May 2016

Hafiz Adewuyi

Meet the worst airline in Nigeria: Aero Contractors

When you cancel my flight (same one), twice, on two consecutive days and do not express even the least bit of empathy; this is what you get. Of course, considering my narrow flying experience, this conclusion is at best, hasty. Knowing my country for what it is, I honestly cannot expect much better behaviour from any other organisation operating in the aviation transport space.

Having said that, I will now go ahead to narrate my ordeal in the hands of Aero contractors airline.

- My return (Aero contractors) flight from Uyo to Lagos was originally scheduled for (last) Tuesday afternoon

- I received an SMS message from Aero on Monday afternoon, announcing the cancellation of my Tuesday flight. The message cited "Operational reasons".

- Since I wouldn't let this bad news ruin my amazing Monday, I called Aero's customer service line (+234 1 628 4140) on Tuesday morning. I took the only option I had: have the flight rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

- On Tuesday afternoon, I got a replica of the SMS message I'd received on Monday afternoon, except that it was now my Wednesday flight that had been cancelled.

Aero contractors Nigeria; cancelled flights
Aero contractors Nigeria; cancelled flights

- I called Aero on Wednesday morning, and this time, the agent was kind enough to let me know that it might be pointless rescheduling for next day since they probably would cancel again. Huh? During the phone call, she also let me know that:

  • I could get a cash refund of my fare on visiting the Aero office at any airport
  • they could not arrange me a flight on another airline because, "sorry, we do not have relationships with other airlines". #pathetic
- Having accepted her fate, my co-traveller with whom I was meant to leave for Lagos on Wednesday afternoon visited Aero's Uyo office for a refund, so she could beef it up and book a space on another airline. Their response; they did not have enough cash and she had to fly back to Lagos to retrieve her fare. Of course, this was communicated with the least amount of empathy which got her rather infuriated.

- In the end, we flew from Uyo to Lagos with Dana and got refunded in cash by Aero contractors at the MM2 Airport terminal in Lagos.

How could Aero have handled this better?
The fact that I had to pay over 5000 NGN in additional fare (to join Dana), due to a flight cancellation that was initiated by Aero contractors is just plain wrong. I mean, even danfo operators know to ensure you don't pay any extra to reach the agreed destination. If something happens that will prevent them from taking you there, they will hitch you a ride on another danfo at no extra charge, before continuing along their way.

So, it's to my absolute dismay that a large airline - supposedly with more structure  and more resources - would breach this simple rule of courtesy and go scot-free with it, because TERMS AND CONDITIONS!

That's not to mention the additional accommodation costs which I would have incurred for staying more nights than I had planned, had I been lodged in a hotel during my Uyo trip. Where are these Nigerian airlines when their foreign counterparts are paying for customers' lodgements in hotels due to overstaying from postponed flights?

Honestly, I know it might be rather costly for a Nigerian airline to pay hotel lodgements for all of the people affected by the airline's inability to fulfil contract. However, to ensure that a customer gets to his destination, same day and at no extra cost simply can not be so difficult to achieve as to be prohibitive. The least they should offer is either the difference between what he paid them and what he'll have to pay another airline for a last minute booking, or a 'no-extra-charge' space on another available aircraft/airline.

In my opinion, they simply are not trying at all, probably due to knowing they could easily go scot-free with it anyway. They thoughtlessly transfer the consequences of their own shortcoming to hapless customers, because they know no one would fight back. "What is 5000 NGN afterall for someone that was able to part with 16000 NGN for a one-hour domestic trip?", they must say to themselves for justification.

I have just one question: "Where is the love, the compassion, the humanity in my fatherland"?

Nowadays, I've started to wonder if somehow, Nigerian businesses are immune to the negative consequences that would normally follow appalling customer service. Having thought about it for a bit, I think this immunity that I talk about might not be so far-fetched to explain. It's very simple.

The average quality of service is low. More often that not, when we're called to service, we often dole out rubbish. So, if we're not nice to our own customers, I guess it only follows that we should not expect much in terms of service from other businesses we patronize. We give shit, so when shit is thrown back at us once in a while, oh well, we just shrug, take it as a necessary part of life around here, and move on with what is left of our dignity.

And on and on, rolls the vicious cycle of poor service in Nigerian organizations. Poor is normal, because we're a poor country; now, not only financially, but in our collective humanity. We have a conscience, but the only god that it serves is our own pockets.

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19 September 2016 at 15:16 delete

I had a similar experience sometime in 2014. They postponed a flight without any prior explanation or notification. I am surprised the company is still having these issues two years after.