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Protecting Our Travellers

DELTA Airlines poor treatment of hundreds of its passengers heading to the US appears to be the standard practice for most foreign airlines that operate into Nigeria.

The passengers were stranded at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos. The plane that was supposed to convey them developed a technical fault.

A passenger’s telephone call to the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Dr. Harold Demuren was what saved the passengers. Demuren ordered Delta Airlines to put its travellers in a hotel until it fixed the plane.

British Airways also has a long history of frequent disregard of the feelings of its Nigerian customers, especially with the less-than-acceptable standards of the conduct of their staff. British Airways cabin staff members are typically snobbish towards their passengers,  Nigeria is its most profitable route and keeps the airline in business.

Delta Airlines has taken poor treatment of Nigerians to new levels, with not only in the conduct of their cabin crew but also in the general standard of services they provide.

For instance, planes that the Airlines put on the Lagos-Atlanta route are  not the best. They do not have individual flight entertainment sets, which many people depend upon to break the boredom of about 11 hours of flight over the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of those planes would not have been allowed on other long haul routes. In the same way, the services it provides for its Nigerians passengers would not be acceptable elsewhere. Why did Delta wait for the intervention of the authorities to cater for its stranded passengers?

Emirates, for instance, in addition to its low fares still pampers passengers with food and drinks of all sorts on demand. Delta takes the dictum, “there is no free lunch in America” to a ridiculous level. Delta Airline’s attitude to Nigerians is as if it is doing them a favour by providing a direct flight to America.

Nigeria is one of the biggest markets in the world and her citizens travel extensively. They maintain a heavy presence in the Diaspora, especially America. Why is Delta reluctant to give them good services?

Most foreign airlines, in their services, have adopted the poor attitude their compatriots have towards Nigerian visa applicants.

Nigeria Airways demise and the absence of a national carrier in its stead has left Nigerian passengers at the mercy of foreign airlines, some of which should not be permitted to operate anywhere for their exemplary disdain for their passengers and aviation regulations.

These practices are unacceptable. Our aviation regulators must insist that airlines that operate into Nigeria implement best practices for the safety, comfort and satisfaction of Nigerian travellers.

Poor treatment of Nigerian passengers has been going on for too long, and unpunished, that these airlines think they can get away with anything. So far they have.

The authorities should communicate their expectations to airlines with appropriate sanctions, and more stringent ones for serial violators.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.