Is comfort really guaranteed at 35,000 feet? Ibom Air experience

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I had just gotten back from the hospital that morning, with a diagnosis that my lungs were severely infected and I might be down for a long while. Even though Doctor Atinuke assured me that I was going to recover in no time, I was frightened. Frightened by the fact that I hadn’t seen my nuclear family in about 3 years. We all know the year 2020 tried its best to take us down with Hard missiles in the form of Tragedies stacked on each other. Incidents like; the World war 3 scare, Kobe Bryant’s death, the coronavirus pandemic, BLM riots, Chadwick’s death, EndSars protests, individual losses, etc. I couldn’t take it anymore. Without second thoughts, I got on my device and booked a return ticket home. My airline options were limited because only two airlines serve Calabar. I eventually chose Ibom air, to experience their service. Plus it would be my first time flying with the airline. The airline prides itself as being “committed to safety, excellence, hospitality, innovation, unparalleled customer experience and memorable travel experience”. I snacked a decent return flight deal with the ticket, considering my reservation being very last minute.

My Ibom Air experience:

My flight route was Lagos to Calabar. The flight from Lagos to  Calabar was scheduled for 8:45am on Christmas Day, 25th of December, 2020. Ibom Air currently serves five (5) cities across the country. Uyo, Lagos, Abuja, Calabar and Enugu, and working on expanding to Asaba. The Lagos service area is at the Murtala Mohammed Airport 2 (MM2). I got to the airport by 6:30am, about 2 hours before my flight to help me deal with the check-in process. After my last local flight online check-in experience, I stopped checking in online for local flights in Nigeria. However, Ibom Air online check-in opens 24hours before and closes 35 mins before scheduled departure time, and offline/airport check-in closes 45 minutes before scheduled departure time. Nonetheless, if you have already checked in online, airport acceptance of luggage closes 35 minutes before scheduled departure time. 

At the entrance into the airport hall, our luggages were sanitized, our temperatures checked, and we were asked to use the automatic hand sanitizer at the door before going in. The Ibom air check-in was fast and seamless. Social distancing measures were adhered to, strictly. The only thing needed for check-in was my ID document. At the check-in counter, the attendant asked for my ID card which I presented. I was further asked to place the luggage I’d like to check-in on a weighing scale. Ibom Air has a maximum luggage allowance of 32kg. Luggages above 32kg would be charged at 500 Naira per extra 1 kg. My check-in luggage weighed 18kg and was tagged. The attendant went ahead to print my boarding pass. I was redirected to another section to confirm my luggage and ensure everything was intact. At that section, I was asked the content of my luggage, for safety reasons. Aside the long queue due to the peak period trip, check-in took less than 5 mins. 

In no time, I was settled at the boarding area. At 8:05 am, our flight was announced and boarding commenced. Imagine my surprise at the punctuality. Our departure gate was gate 7, which wasn’t quite far. However, the distance from the departure gate to the airport apron where the aircraft parked was quite a distance, therefore we were conveyed with Airport buses. 

At the airport apron, right before getting on the plane, we were asked to identify our luggages first before boarding. My guess is that this is done in a bid to curb luggage issues. Upon entering the Aircraft, a final ticket and boarding confirmation was done by a member of the aircraft Cabin crew. The cabin crew member welcomed me (as well as everyone else, albeit individually) onboard and directed me to where my allocated seat is. PS: for basic economy tickets, upon booking your flight online, a seat is automatically allocated to you. This seat cannot be changed at the airport. However, this differs for other higher ticket holders. 

On-board Ibom Air: 

The Ibom air fleet comprises mostly of the bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft (yes, I had to do my research). The boarding was prompt. Nice leg room, for an aircraft that seemed compressed ,to me, when I got in at first. My head was almost touching the roof and from my rough estimate, the height of the cabin may be about 190cm. As soon as all passengers were seated and the luggages were loaded we commenced takeoff preparations. The captain introduced himself and his co-pilot as well as welcomed us on-board. We were asked to fasten our seatbelts and ensure that our hand luggages were in the overhead luggage cabin above our seats. The flight rules were communicated to us in words and in action via the cabin crew. The time was about 8:35 when we started taxiing on the runway. By 8:45, we had taken off. 

Safety precautions by Ibom Air:

It is assured, by the Airline that any Ibom air aircraft boarded has been thoroughly disinfected and sanitized prior to boarding. The stairs, arm rails, the carpet, seats, foldable tables, seat pockets, the walls, windows, overhead baggage bins and the back of the seat in front of yours, are all sanitized before each flight. 

Aside that, Ibom air prides itself as being the aircraft with the best quality of cabin air provided on a domestic flight in Nigeria. The aircraft is factory-fitted with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. HEPA filters filter dust in the cabin air as well as capture greater than 99.97% of all airborne microbes including bacteria and viruses. The air in the cabin circulates through the filters every 3 minutes on the flight. This implies that the air in the cabin is cleaned every 3 minutes, to become sterile and particle fee, throughout the duration of the flight, making the Ibom air flight experience a safe one.

Furthermore, Everyone is expected to be on their face masks throughout the duration of the flight. Therefore, the protection of the face masks and the continuous air filtering combined, makes the Ibom air experience a very safe one. 

Inflight:

There is no on-board Entertainment, save for the Official Ibom Air Fulcrum magazine and maybe the safety manual (if you’re into that sort of thing). While onboard, after takeoff, flight attendants go around to ensure everyone is comfortable. Bottled Water, in trays, are carried around and handed over to passengers who need it. We weren’t served refreshments onboard due to the “new normal” protocol, however there was a snack bag for each passenger. The last time I flew domestic with a different airline, to the capital city, we weren’t served refreshments. I like to think that they forgot. 

Comfort:

For the Bombadier CRJ900 aircraft, when seated, the leg space was incredibly sufficient. There was ample space for long legs like mine. The seats are upright and comfortable. I didn’t need my neck pillow at any point during the flight. The seating arrangement is such that there are 2 columns on each side of the aircraft, separated by an aisle. The separating aisle is so small that only one passenger can comfortably go through at a time. 

The overhead hand luggage cabins are just too close. I bumped into it more than once -Tall people issues. Yes, it is that tight. However, once seated, the plane becomes more comfortable. 

Generally, The flight was seamless and in no time, we were preparing for landing. 

Landing: 

At about few minutes to landing, the pilot announced that all passengers should be seated, seatbelts worn and all phones switched off, until the plane comes to a halt. The cabin crew also retreated to their section, in preparation for landing. Landing took about 10 minutes of scheduled flight duration. 

Disembarking: 

As the plane came to a halt, the cabin crew came out to ensure an orderly disembark from the aircraft. Passengers were told to remain seated until it gets to their turn. The passengers closest to the aircraft entrance are asked to leave first. Each row takes their turn in leaving, one after the other, in an orderly manner till everyone is out. No one is allowed to stand up except it gets to your turn to alight. 

At the door, before going out of the aircraft, a cabin crew member handed us a bag containing snacks. In the snack bag we had; a sandwich, a small sized fruit juice, a bottle of water and candy. It might not have been Michelin rating worthy but it was decent. 

Extra:

Pets were allowed on the flight! I mean, not in the cabin area where humans are, but there’s a pet section on the aircraft for your pets. This was the icing on the cake for me as I have friends and family who had trouble with other airlines when they wanted to travel with their pets. 

What made the flight a great experience, for me, was;

1.) The timing. 

2.) The cabin crew: Everyone was very kind, pleasant, smiling, professional, and courteous. 

3.) Comfort. 

Rating:

Timing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Comfort: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Professional service: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Entertainment: ⭐️

Overall Experience: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

I was very pleased with this flight. I will prioritize Ibom air for my choice of airlines, for local flights, from now on. 

Recommendations:

  1. I recommend that the airline introduces travel rewards like air miles, loyalty rewards, ability to upgrade seats, etc, for travelers. 
  2. Look into creating subtle inflight entertainment, no matter how short the flight duration. 

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