View Full Version : Virgin @ Port Harcourt

Nigerian Expat Outlaw
14th Aug 2004, 15:33
I just did a flight on Virgin from Port Harcourt to LGW as my company couldn't get me out through Lagos due to all flights being fully booked.
The flight (when you are finally allowed to board it) was the usual high standard, same as from any other airport.
The airport on the other hand is an absolute nightmare. It is literally a cattle market, with all sorts of people wandering about in the check in area, non passengers just looking around, touts, so-called security, armed police etc.
The airport is the standard design used for all regional airports in Nigeria and cannot possibly cope with an Airbus 340 load of people trying to check in and wait etc, especially with the lack of security and planning.
My passport was "closely" scrutinised seven times, my bag (hand baggage only) was opened and emptied four times, the last occasion being when I was at the end of the passage leading to the aircraft, and I was asked for "dash" more times than I can remember.
It reminded me of Lagos Airport 10 years ago. Lagos has improved 1000 %, and I'm trying to change my return booking to route there instead of P.H. as another passenger told me he spent 5 hours explaining every item in his bag to Customs last time he arrived at P.H.
I've been working in Nigeria for 12 years and have travelled on all the major airlines at on time or another, but in spite of the good standard on board I really think Virgin should try to put some pressure on the airport management to improve the check in and waiting facilities.
I was travelling on Upper Class. In Lagos we get to use the first class lounge which is very nice, with all the trimmings (free drinks, food etc) you would expect. In P.H. it is the VIP lounge, which was severely overcrowded and has only a few very tired sofas for furniture. The air conditioning could not even come close to coping with the cram of people.
My advice, if you intend going to Nigeria on Virgin, is to use the LHR -Lagos route.

14th Aug 2004, 20:38
Chill dude, you are talking about West Africa ....:p

What can virgin do to improve things????

Nigerian Expat Outlaw
16th Aug 2004, 09:26
The large airlines have a lot of "stroke" in places like Nigeria. They could do a joint funding thing with Air France to refurbish the lounge which would be a very small cost for a very large improvement for a start.
Apart from getting the security situation in the check in area under control, not much else they can do on their own I suppose. It just seems strange that Lagos has been transformed into an acceptable facility while P.H. is still in the dark ages.

Bob Upndown
20th Aug 2004, 17:13

I'm sorry to hear of your tale of woe in PHC. I can't say I'm surprised though. If I may explain - I was a member of the team that setup VS's operation in PHC. I was also part of the team that delivered the LOS operation so I am familiar with the differences in the airports that you allude to.

Please believe me when I say that we have done all that we can to try to improve facilities for pax. It was all that we could do (with LARGE amounts of dash) to get the airport manager to agree to allow us to put the office and ticketing portakabin in front of the terminal. Getting the permission for the mobile checkin desks was a similiar nightmare! Any further requests for upgrades and improvements in the departures area including the 'lounge' have so far been met with the usual promises of action but of course we are no further forward.

One does find oneself wondering where all that money we pay in landing fees and other charges goes.......certainly not on the airport infrastructure. Sounds like you have been in Nigeria long enough to hazard a guess????

I can't agree with your assertion that the airlines hold a lot of 'stroke' in Nigeria. All airlines are at the mercy of the individual airport management and any representation to the Minister of Aviation (formerly Dr Mrs Chikwe, now Mr Mallam Yuguda) is met with promises of angry meetings to straighten out the airport managers, but again, of course nothing happens.

I hope you don't mind, but I'll pass your comments on to the VS management team in LOS. We appreciate customer feedback from all sources as it lets us understand your experience and take steps to address issues.

Best wishes for your future travels. It's great to know that you enjoy the onboard VS product. It seems that PHC will remain a bit of a challenge for now, but we are continually nibbling away at the powers-that-be in the hope that one day they will give the go-ahead for the necessary improvements on the ground.

Nigerian Expat Outlaw
21st Aug 2004, 08:29
Thanks for your response Bob, especially the clarification about the amount of stroke available. I honestly thought it was more than that. Since you are going to pass the comments on, let me say that Virgin are far and away the best operator I have travelled on to/from Nigeria (and I've done all of the others over the years), especially in the cabin crew department. They are always friendly and helpful and seem to genuinely enjoy their job. That is a complete contrast to the other British operator, who act like robots and make it clear that they really don't want to be on the Nigeria route by giving one the feeling that it is a big favour to serve you, particularly if you want, say, a second drink.
Just thought Sir Richard and his merry men (and women) should receive the appropriate credit where it's due.

Bob Upndown
27th Aug 2004, 12:19
Thanks Cheese, will pass that on too...