Before you think I am a bitter expat with too high expectations, I would like to clarify that I was born in Nigeria and have lived here for a considerable part of my life. Amongst my peers, I am always the first to defend my country. To say I love my country despite its many flaws is an understatement. I am #ProudlyNigerian. Nevertheless there are some things that even I cannot defend, things that I have tolerated and defended for so long that to defend them would be pure stupidity and more importantly impede the growth of my nation. One of those things is the state of our international airport in Lagos. I will not go into the issues but I will simple give you tips so that you can enjoy or at least not hate your experience so much that you refuse to fly into my beloved country again. Here they are “8 Hacks for surviving an airport in Nigeria”:
1. CHECK IN ONLINE (and PRINT out your CHECK-IN confirmation)
This is important especially if you are flying “cattle class”, sorry I meant Economy. And bear in mind that you may not see a baggage drop queue at the check-in desk. Simply approach an official with your confirmation and you will be able skip ahead of that unbelievable long-winded line.
2. DRESS LIKE YOU ARE GOING SOMEWHERE
The saying that says you should “dress as you want to be addressed” really applies here. People respect you more when you look decent so I suggest to avoid disrespect, dress like you’re someone important (aka rich or at least “not poor”). Sorry flip flops don’t cut it.
3. AVOID HEELS
If you’re unlucky enough to use an international credit card to book your flight, you will have the joy of being sent on a merry go round to do credit card verifications at the airlines office (Pray their systems are working). You want to conduct these activities in comfort AKA “NO heels” (simply to reduce your irritation).
4. IF ASKED YOUR OCCUPATION, RESPOND THAT YOU ARE A STUDENT (AKA You likely have little means of income)
This will reduce the likelihood that you will be begged for money. It can be a little irritating so just curb this by explaining you’re a student of UNILAG or which ever school you please (no rich schools).
5. HAVE MANNERS (a.k.a RESPECT YOUR ELDERS)
The truth is the airport can be a power-hungry environment and everyone from the check-in rep to the immigration rep may use his or her authority to put you down. Key ways to respect your elders are as follows:
- Don’t use your left hand to pass anything to officials (it is rude and you will be faced with insults)
- Respond to officials with “Yes Ma” and “Yes Sir”
- Keep a happy/neutral face and banter with officials
6. GET A SHAPARONE
Who you know is everything in life and this applies at the Nigerian airport. Know the right person and you will likely seamlessly enjoy your hopefully short stint at the airport.
7. ENSURE YOU’VE BUILT UPPER BODY STRENGTH (or travel with a hulk)
Given all bags are manually checked at the check-in desk (I still don’t understand this), you will have to haul your bags on tables to be checked. Ensure to prepare for this so that you don’t feel irritated or question why the hell you have to do this.
8. BE MENTALLY PREPARED TO SHARE THE AIRPORT WITH OTHER SPECIES
The airport has been known to be homes to rats (don’t worry, they don’t bite and they are scared of you). Know that you are a superior being so when you see them, just ignore and continue with your day.
There may be many more hacks out there and perhaps you know them. Do SHARE in the comment section below so that your fellow travelers in and out of Nigeria can have a better experience.
Photo Credit: FAAN