Sunday, July 26th 2020, was another day that Aero contractors workers at Port Harcourt airport frustrated my planned trip along with other disappointed passengers.
My flight was supposed to leave domestic wing of Port Harcourt Airport at 1700 hours on Sunday, July 26th 2020 for Lagos. I booked online through www.flyaero.com and I went ahead to check in online even before leaving my house which is less than 30 minutes drive to Port Harcourt Airport, Omagwa.
I left my house at 1500 hours believing that at this period of Covid-19 there would be more security and medical checks hence more time was needed for me to be at the airport before the departure time at 1700 hours in order to pass through all the security checks. Contrary to my expectation, the only medical check was infra-red thermometers and the security checks were still as they were before the Covid-19 pandemic.
When I got to the airport, I passed through all the security and medical checks in less than 3 minutes, collected my boarding-pass from the Aero contractors staff along with other passengers when it was our turn to start boarding. After the final security and medical checks were concluded we were ushered into a waiting airport bus on the tarmac, immediately after the exit of the departure are
The said bus was to take us to our plane that was waiting for us. It was raining hence there was no way we in the bus could have left the bus that was meant to convey us from our final screening point to the tarmac where our plane was parked in case we wanted to break security protocol at the airport.
After staying in the bus for more than 20 minutes,I asked the driver what was holding us back ,he told me that Aero contractors staff communicated with him that there was one pregnant woman who was still passing through security checks hence we should wait for her to join us so that he could drive all of us to the plane . We got relaxed and sat comfortably in the bus.
We obeyed the driver because even the bible made it clear that we must be submissive to all authorities hence the driver’s authority was not an exception .We believed that the officials of Aero contractors must have communicated with the pilot and his crew of the latest development . I checked my wrist watch it was not yet 1700 hours hence why should I be worried?
Meanwhile, when I collected my boarding-pass, there was this lady that was having issues with Aero contractors staff over her identity. From what I eavesdropped , it was as if someone booked the flight for her hence there was disparity in the name on her Identity card the one on her boarding pass and to worsen the matter she could not remember her PNR code.
When the pregnant lady we were waiting for finally entered the bus, the airport driver reversed the bus to take us to our flight but the unthinkable happened in the next few seconds. The Aero contractors’ flight we were supposed to travel with had already begun to taxi on the runway and was quickly approaching the downwind end of the runway which meant we had missed the flight.
It was like a horror film or a magic to me .For the next 10 minutes I was speechless, believing that I was dreaming hence somebody should wake me up. I got back to my senses when one of my co-passengers shouted : ‘’Oga driver ,shebi I tell you make you carry us go to our plane first then you come back come carry the pregnant woman wey dey delay us ,you say make I know teach you your work. Shebi,you don see where your work you know wan make I teach you ,don land us ?’’
The airport bus driver was so devastated having been with us for more than 30 minutes waiting for the lady . He began to blame the officials of Aero contractors who communicated to him not to take us to the flight that one pregnant woman was being screened but same officials failed to communicate with the pilot and his crew about the latest development.
The blame game continued .Some of the airport officers in the departure area blamed us for not taking the laws into our own hands by alighting from the airport bus delaying us and run in the rain to our flight ,which to me was another way of breaking security measures at the airport ? The driver of the airport bus was so pathetic and remorseful but he had to shift the blame to others, he simply directed us to pursue one Aero contractors lady who was leaving the tarmac . The driver’s trick worked as we all sheepishly alighted from his bus and pursued the lady to the Aero contractors desk office in the airport.
The officers at the Aero contractors’ office in Port Harcourt airport who gave us the boarding pass realized their mistake in not communicating with the pilot and his crew while they were delaying our bus for the pregnant woman to come in.
There was turn of event when a fair and tall guy came into the picture, he was not in uniform and there was no identity card hung on his neck. This new guy began to blame us for coming late to the airport. I was highly infuriated with his line of thought , I asked him what was his definition of being late for a flight? If being in the airport more than one hour before the departure of one’s flight was part of his definition of being late then he needed to go back to elementary school .
Now that it has dawned on me and other passengers that we have missed our flight not because of our lateness to the airport but because of the ineptitude and incompetence of the Aero contractors workers, who will bear the brunt of the surcharges Aero contractor s will demand from us for rescheduling our flights they made us miss? What of the appointment that we missed on Sunday night in Lagos, who will pay us for the damages ? I don’t want to talk about my driver that drove all the way to the domestic wing of Murtala Mohammed airport waiting for me to arrive from Port Harcourt. Why did the pilot begin to taxi the runway before 1700 hours stipulated on our tickets?
Now that I booked my flight under ‘’Round-trip’’ as against ‘’One-way trip’’ who will now foot the bill of rescheduling my Wednesday‘s return flight since its rescheduling is caused by my inability to travel on Sunday which was not caused by me,because if I had gone to Lagos on Sunday I would have returned to Port Harcourt on Wednesday morning .
I was so desperate to travel on Sunday that I was ready to pay for the next available flight going to Lagos, no matter the costs but Arik airline which was the last flight from Port Harcourt to Lagos same Sunday was fully booked and to worsen the matter all flights from Aero contractors from Port Harcourt to Lagos were fully booked the next day, Monday 27th July 2020 .That is what incompetence, ineptitude and lack of coordination among Aero contractors staff have caused me and other co-passengers .
I challenge the management of Aero contractors to investigate this matter and where necessary retrieve and play the CCTV, if there is anyone working in the airport, to substantiate my claims .Aero contractor workers at Port Harcourt airport who were on duty when passengers were boarding the 1700 hours flight should be made to face punitive measures if found guilty as we cannot continue like this if we must move this nation forward. The pilot and his crew who began to taxi the runway before 1700 hours stipulated by our schedule should be make to face the wrath of the law if found guilty. The money I will use to reschedule my flight is not an issue to me but how long can this ineptitude be allowed to continue in our public places ? What of the appointment I missed yesterday in Lagos?
That fair and tall guy who was in mufti that was behaving like a tout telling me and other disappointed passengers to come outside the departure area for a fight should be identified through footage of the CCTV in the airport,if at all they are working , for necessary actions .
Dr Paul John
Port Harcourt ,08083658038,email@example.com