Passengers who fly Nigerian airlines frequently, complain about two bad experiences: poor inflight entertainment and poor inflight services.
On the domestic routes, passengers do not need or rather, do not expect to have inflight entertainment, but they need inflight services.
On long distance flights, which only few Nigerian airlines undertake the service at the moment, their inflight entertainment is relatively poor and gives their competitors edge over them.
But what irks passengers on domestic service is the unruly and conceited attitude of some of the cabin crew of some airlines and the piteous refreshments they serve.
According to passenger responses, some domestic carriers have, however, taken advantage of this and built their unique selling point on improved inflight service, which counts for them; while some others do not care, despite public outcry on the shoddy treatment of passengers by some cabin crews in their lights.
Industry analysts said that it is expected that competition should improve the way airlines treat their passengers in order to secure patronage and loyalty, just like in any other business where patronage by clients determine the success or failure of the organisation.
They pointed out that three factors seem to subsume this key element. One is that many passengers who are regular air travellers already have airlines of their choice and could brook such excesses because of other critical issues like safety.
The second factor is that many travellers are particular about time and approach an airline they think would meet their time schedule and the third factor is safety. Nigeria has recorded many air crashes, which has affected the psyche of air travelers; so the first thing most of the passengers consider is the airline that would take them to their destination safely.
THISDAY investigations revealed that many travellers who may have other reasons for flying a particular airline also expect to be treated well during the flight and do not take it kindly when shabbily attended to.
Investigations also revealed that good inflight service attract passengers and against all odds, some passengers may just prefer an airline because the fight crew respects them and serves them refreshment with deference and professional conduct.
THISDAY last weekend spoke to some passengers, who just arrived Lagos from different domestic destinations at the Murtala Muhammed Domestic Terminal (MMA2) and the General Aviation Terminal (GAT).
Some of the passengers who wouldn’t want to be identified bared their minds and categorically stated that inflight services most often influence their choice of airlines to fly.
One of the passengers who spoke to THISDAY at MMA2 said she loves flying a particular airline because of its inflight service.
“For refreshment, the airline makes it almost impossible for you to say no to their refreshment. They smile while handing the well-packaged packs to you, while offering you the choice of having the ordinary juice, lemonade, tea or coffee. The packs are also always packed full with cakes, biscuits, plantain chips, water and sweets.
“Little wonder you see business looking men and women collect and enjoy the contents of their packs, possibly to enjoy it later, give it to their children, wards or drivers,” the passenger said.
Referring to another airline, a passenger at GAT told THISDAY, “I know of an airline that always offers only a dry piece of cake for refreshment. Now that you have only a dry piece of cake to offer me; that is not a problem because I am not there to eat in the first place, but the manner in which the crew normally almost fling/ throw the cakes at passengers, after having delayed the flight for so long, is very pathetic and needs to change. I must say I have experienced this on the Abuja-Asaba axis in more than three occasions. So, overall, I would say we need to up our game for inflight service on the local routes,” the passenger said.
The passengers also complained about the snobbish attitude of some of the cabin crew and said some conduct themselves as if they are doing passengers a favour and sometimes their disdainful conduct “breeds hatred” for the airline.
“Sometimes when I think of going to meet those disrespectful crew members I change my mind and buy ticket of another airline. It is like they are not supervised or they do not have motivation to work. I think the first thing an airline should do is to monitor the activities of these crewmembers. Some of them are dreadful, but I have also met some good ones. The ones that are most annoying are the ones who pretend to be observing etiquette while talking to you but when you look at their countenance you notice they are just pretending; it is not coming from their heart,” one of the passengers said.
Another passenger however told THISDAY that some of the food packs are just for eye service; that there is nothing much inside them, “just boring meatpie and Chivita; that’s all.”
But the passenger also said the food pack “at least show respect, than to handover cake with tissue to you, which is deplorable.”
He recalled an airline that was, instead of serving refreshments decided to sell them onboard and noted, “I know they stopped because of competition but I liked it then because if you buy something with your money you expect it to be of quality, and if you don’t want, you ignore them with their items.”
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Consumer Protection Directorate that good inflight services attract passengers to airlines and also give such airlines competitive edge.
Most Nigerian travellers say they would like to be treated well while onboard; “even if you don’t give your refreshment, the crew should respect the passengers and pilot should update the passengers at every turn of the flight.”