This story of why I don’t check-in online for local flights in Nigeria is as old as five years. The lesson learned is an eternal one and I am still livid about it. As a major fan of short cuts and easy work, I love the idea of the internet and its ease of doing things from the comfort of wherever you are (specifically the toilet). However, I am not a fan of systems that do not work, and have not been optimized or discarded. This was the case of my ordeal with an airline that made me stop checking in online.
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH ONLINE CHECK-IN:
The first time I checked in online was in 2014. I had just come in from a west African country and was making my way to calabar. The Margaret Ekpo international airport in Calabar does not cater to international demands. I don’t know if it ever did, but right from when i started flying, it only served local airlines. Therefore, I had to get to Lagos first, then use a local flight to Calabar. My international flight’s arrival terminal was the Murtala Mohamed international airport in Lagos. My arrival time was at about 2:30 and my flight to calabar, from the local airport, was scheduled for 3:20. If you are conversant with the way the international airport in Lagos works, you’d know that I was definitely not going to make it to the local airport in time for physical checkin.
As someone with good networking skills, I had about 4 contacts at the local airport, including a ticketing and reservation personnel’s. I called the ticketing personnel at the local airport to inform them of my dilemma. The lady said that it wasn’t a problem, all I had to do was check-in online. I hadn’t realized that was an option. The lady gave me basic directions on how to go about it. I checked the local flight online platform, and online Check-in had begun. Back then, when checking in online, you could choose your preferred seat. Imagine my surprise and excitement. I went ahead to check-in online for the local trip.
As predicted, I got to the local airport just a few minutes to the boarding announcement. No hassle. I didn’t miss check-in because I had already done that online. PS: I travelled with a backpack only, so, I didn’t have any luggage to check-in. This was how my online check-in started. From then, I always checked-in online. Aside from the fact that I could choose my preferred seat (and I always chose the window seat behind the left wing), I didn’t have to rush to the airport so early to check-in (when I didn’t have a luggage to check-in), and I avoided airport queues.
MY LAST ONLINE CHECK-IN EXPERIENCE:
Fast forward to my last experience with online check-in (sometime in 2017). I am an inelastic person. Once I find something that works, I always sick with it. Well, right until it doesn’t work no more. I was a frequent flier with a certain airline, not only because it was affordable, but also because… nothing else, now I come to think of it. It was just affordable.
I noticed that this particular airline kept rescheduling and even canceling flights on the scheduled departure date. Their usual excuse was usually “technical problems”. It was always annoying because it happened almost every month. My family and friends were always complaining about them. One time, I booked a return trip to Calabar via this airline and as usual, I checked-in online about 20 hours before my trip. I was all set and ready for the flight, scheduled for 1pm the next day. To my “not-so-surprise”, a message came in that morning at 8 am that my flight had been cancelled. Not moved, but cancelled. I was livid. No other detail. Nothing. I had to go to the airport to find out what to do. I didn’t really need to go on this trip, so I could afford to reschedule.
On getting to the airport, I met other people in the same category as me. Some people needed to be in calabar that day, while others were there to reschedule. I joined the queue until it got to my turn, then I proceeded in explaining to the lady behind the counter about my ordeal and she said I was entitled to a refund. I asked for the option of rescheduling and she said I could. On checking my flight details, she noticed that I had already checked-in. She asked if I did, and I answered in the affirmative. Then she told me that I’d have to pay for rescheduling because I had already checked-in. I didn’t understand why. I asked for a convincing explanation, which when I didn’t get, I asked to speak to someone else. A manager, or anyone who could help me with a better explanation. I didn’t care about the money that much, I just needed to understand why. Till date, I still don’t understand why I was charged for it.
I painstakingly parted with 6,000 Naira for the rescheduling. She advised me to stop checking-in online cos of situations like this. I still do not get it till date. This is a process that’s supposed to make things easier for us, why should i stop. I hate hard life.
Anyhoo, I stopped checking in online since then. I was just pissed. Mostly because I didn’t understand why I’m charged for this situation that was no fault of mine, in any way. If you know why i was charged, kindly explain it to me in the comment box. I am still pained and your explanation might help me get closure (lol). That’s technically why I don’t check-in online for local flights in Nigeria.
Have you had similar issues? How was it resolved? If you’ve written about any of these experiences on your blog, please feel free to leave me a comment and include the link to your post. I’ll definitely go check it out.
Share your thoughts and let’s connect!
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