Monday, November 12, 2007

Virgin Nigeria migraine

Its becoming more than the odd balls up with Virgin Nigeria. A couple of weeks ago, I had a ticket for the last flight back to Abuja at 7pm. The flight left just after 9.30pm – I was out of the airport in Abuja by 10.45pm – not the best time to travelling on the airport road... Then, this Friday, my 5.15pm flight to Lagos left Abuja airport at 8pm – I was out of the airport by 9.30pm – with only the weakest of apologies on board the flight. Then again, my flight back to Abuja at 2pm yesterday was cancelled, as had been all the earlier flights. There was no chance to get on a later flight as all seats had already been sold (presumably to those whose earlier flights had been cancelled) – the Virgin Nigeria desk at the airport being predictably chaotic. Apparently the flights had been cancelled because of the harmattan weather. I called a friend up in Abuja to confirm and he told me the sky was clear and blue. Meanwhile, all the other airlines were flying as usual..

Friends I’ve called to moan in the past few days of bad experiences are surprised I am so behind the times. One friend says, ‘helllloooo – Virgin Nigeria is now the new Nigeria Airways – didn’t you know?” Nigeria Airways faced a long slow death by dysfunction, for those that don’t know. This won't happen to Virgin Nigeria however - supply for local flights cannot meet demand, especially on the Lagos-Abuja route.

It’s a shame that an airline that started out with the promise of being different and offering a quality service has become so quickly Nigerianised – consistently and unapologetically poor service and all the signs of further degradation ahead. It makes the hop from Abuja to Lagos a difficult decision: do you fly Virgin Nigeria, and know you are going to be 3 hours late but at least the planes are relatively new? Do you fly Arik, and again know the plane will be at least 3 hours late (if it comes) and buying a ticket is a nightmare? Or do you fly Aero, where the planes tend to be more or less on time – but the queueing system at Abuja airport is a Darwinian rugby scrum? Or do you fly Chanchangi, IRS and the rest, and just pray you get there in one piece?

The local airline sector in Nigeria seems to worsen by the day, to the point where advertised flying times are becoming practically meaningless, as the airlines revert to the danfo model of transport they seem to know best: when the plane is full, then we will take off. The next step downwards will be stewards hanging out the door of the plane shouting abujaabujaabujaabuja while people jostle to climb up the stairs..

Anyone else have any stories to tell about Virgin Nigeria? Why is their service so awful these days? Its such a pity..


Anonymous,  11:04 am  

Pity. Why don't you join with some others and start a good and reliable domestic airline?

Aiyekoto 11:41 am  

Telling it like it is
Sometimes when you try to complain to a company, it feels as though you’re talking to a brick wall. But at Virgin, we always welcome your feedback. We do realise that mistakes sometimes happen, so if you're unhappy with something, then please make sure you let us know. We'll always do our best to solve any problems or issues that you might have with something you've bought or used from the Virgin Group. We promise to listen properly to your feedback and to use your suggestions to improve our products and services.

We've put together this guide, to help you out with your complaint. It'll tell you how to go about it, and what to expect from us in return. Take a look, and then get in touch.

How to Complain cannot give you advice on any individual complaints, but the following steps will help you and the appropriate Virgin Company solve the problem as soon as possible.

Make sure you contact the relevant Virgin Group Company. That's the one you bought the product or service from. You can find a complete list of Virgin Group Companies and their contact information by visiting the "Contact Us" section.
Always read the terms and conditions for the relevant Virgin Group Company as it may have special arrangements about refunds, guarantees, rights to cancel etc above and beyond the rights given to you by law.
If you think you have a genuine complaint about faulty goods, then stop using the goods immediately. If the complaint is about goods or services, you should contact the Virgin Group Company who sent you the goods or provided the service as soon as possible either by telephoning, emailing or writing.
Explain in as much detail as you can what the problem is and make sure you have all the information to hand e.g. full name and address of the right Virgin Group Company, any customer reference number, details of what you ordered, date when you placed the order, the amount paid, method of payment, receipt number, reason for the complaint and anything else which may be important.
Please note that if any of the prices on any of the Virgin websites are incorrect then you do not have a right to demand to buy the goods at the advertised price. If you do discover an error then please let the relevant Virgin Group Company know so that they can correct any mistakes.

What you can expect from us
If you follow the steps above, we aim to:

Acknowledge all written complaints within 7 days
Respond in full to written complaints within 21 days
Respond to phone calls and email within 48 hours
Listen properly to your feedback and use your suggestions to improve our products and services.
Your rights outside of the UK
Always check the terms and conditions that apply to your purchase because you may be dealing with a Virgin Group Company outside of your country of residence and the law of another country may apply. Before ordering any goods some key questions, which you should bear in mind, include:

Will the item work when I get it? Standards and systems vary between countries, for example can you be sure that the electronic equipment you've bought will work where you are?
Make sure that you take into account any differences due to the cost of converting currency or sending money outside of the UK
If the product has a guarantee check that it is valid in your home country or only in, for example, the UK
Remember if you are ordering from outside of the UK you may have to pay extra customs duty and taxes

Chxta 1:04 pm  


-Ibadan dey?

-Owa. Pilot ejo mofe bole.

-Passengers make una no vex we wan drop person for Ibadan pick some more. Una go shift for una seat...

-Ilorin dey?

No answer, passenger sleeping. Wakes up later and shrieks.

-Pilot, I suppose drop for Ilorin na...

-Ehen why u no yan?

-Abeg turn back I get appointment for dier.

-Conductor, sorry hostess, abeg brush dis guy wetin dey worry am sef?

Anonymous,  2:24 pm  

@ aiyekoto - what a load of crap!

Anonywho,  2:26 pm  

Is aiyekotos comment for real? have read thru 2x to be sure he/she is not yanking my chain. oh. I get it..its from the Virgin group handbook. Aiyekoto, you are well done. howsabout we talk about the real situation on ground. For starters, the ominous concept of "free seating". What the?!.. i bet thats not in the handbook!all it tells us is that something sinister is going down and yes, we may have boarding passes, but basically we aint gots no gaurOntees. Our guess on those days is that basically the flight has been oversold. yes? No? we can only guess. We never get any answers from Virgin.
Number 2. How about all the different stages/desks one has to visit in order to make a simple transaction. Whats that all about? one line to check in. Good. But sorry sir, you have excess baggage. No prob, its weighed at the same counter. No prob. But wait, you go to another desk to hand in excess weight voucher. No prob. This is how its done abroad sometimes. but this is where the policy begins to take crack rock cocaine. Virgin attendant signs voucher, then SENDS you to yet another window to pay for excess. That attendant records amountto be paid, and another attendant receives the money and manualy records it down in her notebook (so, 2 employees at payment desk handle same/similar issue), then they SEND you back to the check in desk where you hand your receipt in exchange for your boarding pass. Which is funnily enough, electronically printed. i mean why bother? On the one hand Virgin is using millenium technology to check you in, on the other... what? i can only liken it to writing email, printing it out on your computer, folding it, putting it in an envelope , and delivering it by horse and carriage. Yes?
Have a minute? see akins blog( of thurs oct 25. My tale of woe recorded for the ages. Unnammed airline VIRGIN.

Anonymous,  3:19 pm  

@chxta - LOL!!!! I could just picture that in my head!!!

Through these eyes 5:08 pm  

Crazy...going to be in Nigeria shortly and was recommended to take Virgin or Aero. Guess Virgin will be off my list.

BTW, HOW HAVE U BEEN, Jeremy? Longest time ever...i'm back now. Come on over to visit me when u r free. Greetings to the Mrs.


Tayo 7:41 pm  

You're right there Jeremy. It's the Nigerian factor all right. Sustainment is one thing we still haven't learnt in Nigeria... and it's the same in many businesses.
Whenever new branches of fast food joints, banks or stores open, professionalism is everywhere. Visit them after 6 months and you'll wonder where all that went.

Waffarian 9:09 pm  

Use aero, haba, Jeremy, you no get connections? if you can get just one guy at aero on a regular ehhhh small payments, life would be easier. Me, I have one guy at Lagos, another at Warri. No need to do anything, I just give him my ticket and bags, and wait at that stinky canteen or whatever its called upstairs. I still have the guy's number in Lagos. Make i hook you up?

Talatu-Carmen 4:50 am  

have you tried flying in America lately...? It's not much better....

GodWins,  5:35 am  

Aiyekoto,you sound pathetic.Do you really think its a good idea to bring official information to this board.In any case it may be better for Virgin Nigeria to go ahead and fix its problems instead handing a whole body of instructional guidelines which include mainly promises.It amounts to a bunch of balderdash.C'mon.

Anonymous,  8:07 am  

Oh really. I havent experienced the queues at Aero and I have been going with them like no man's business this past week! And funny also, I was just about to post about how Chachangi signifies the method in the Nigerian madness - they dont follow the rules and dont seem to have a code, but constantly deliver efficient, friendly service that makes one feel at home - seriously! And one doesnt get the heat and the noise that;s the cocktail on offer on say IRS..

No comments on Virgin.

Toks- Boy 8:10 am  

Jeremy welcome to my world. As you know I do a fair bit of flying with Virgin between Lagos and Abuja and it has now got to the point where I do not alert the driver to pick me up until we are actually on the plane and about to taxi as sometimes they are waiting at the airport for hours. The rercord delay for me has been 5 hours from Abuja to Lagos.

Last week we booked tickets and arrived at the airport only to be told that we would all have to sit in different rows - this was interesting consdiering there was a four and five year old amongst our party. They suggested that when we got on board I beg other passengers to move around so the family could sit together. This happened on both legs of the journey. But you know me- once I squeeze face things generally start to happen.

As for Aero, my brother who works for an oil co in PH swears by them (actually he has no choice) but the one time I flew them was one of the most terrifying flights I have ever taken.

I was talking to a mutual acquaintance over the weekend who is in the business who tells me that the airline is running at a huge loss despite the PR so this might account for some of this erratic behaviour.

My advice? Always carry the following - iPod, Laptop, DVDs,food, drink and finally a blanket.

Adekunle Shobowale 11:03 am  

A lot of these problems will be resolved if the airlines flew 24hr flights.
What we have here is a case of Demand outstripping the supply. Most companies around the world take a piss when that happens. In Naija, it's just mayhem.
If you could catch a 3am flight out of Lagos to Abuja...Sorry Jeremy I'm dreaming again.

In my head and around me 11:07 am  

Aiyekoto, I bought a return ticket a few months ago and paid online. I was packing my things a few hours to the trip when I got a call from Virgin to say that my trip had been cancelled- weather conditions. Il n'ya pas du problem.
I rushed to the airpoort as quickly as was possible in BRT construction traffic (if you need to go by Ikorodu road, you'll understand this). Was hustled by some touts into spending N4000 extra buying a ticket. Got to my destination and on my return trip, went to the Virgin counter to check-in only to be told that my ticket had been cancelled since I did not fly with them on one leg of the journey. I was stumped!! Luckily, it was all sorted out and I flew to Lagos with Virgin. At the airport, I stopped by the counter to get a refund on my cancelled ticket. "Not possible here" I was told. "You need to go by our Ikeja office".
It has been 4 months and I have not been able to go down to the Virgin office in Ikeja because

1. I never have any business that takes me there
2. I do not want to drive in the BRT construction traffic.

I want my money back, Virgin. But you do not make it as easy to get back as it was to give it.

Anonymous,  5:19 pm  

You're comments regarding one of the better airlines in Nigeria stinks of personal agenda, exaggeratin, and outright ignorance of the problems affecting the Nigerian civil aviation industry.

VK, Arik, or Aero can't be blamed for ALL the delays that affect their operations. The local airports are subject to power failures, inconsistent/poor air traffic control, and many other EXTERNAL factors.

I'm not working at Virgin or any other airline for that matter, I just find your comments unfair. Naturally, being a consummer you overlook all the positive that Virgin Nigeria has brought to Nigerian flights: safe, maintained aircraft, relatively new (just yesterday they ordered 24 brand new planes for 800 million dollars).

Comparing Virgin Nigeria to Nigeria Airways is idiotic and inappropriate. While both carriers witness/ed inefficiencies, Virgin Nigeria is a relatively new PRIVATE carrier that has profit as its ultimate goal. Nigeria Airways was once late from London by 8 days (Guiness Record). The objective of every WT CEO was to enrich himself and grant govt. officers free rides at the expense of the masses.

Just try to be a bit more balanced in your blogging. I'm beginning to tire from your one-sided perspective. Rather than bash Virgin Nigeria just imagine what the local flights would look like today with tokunbo airlines still around (Okada, Kabo, Hold Trade, etc.). Virgin started the modernisation trend in 2004, and their mission is far from over.


saybelog,  6:42 pm  

@EchoSierraBravo either you're definitely a virgin employee that's stuck behind the check in desk all day or aiyekoto in disguise.....

are you sure you have flown on virgin nigeria at all...

you say they just ordered 24 new planes, yeah!! more like 24 junk scarp yard items...

oh please jump of your high horse and smell the stale carpets on V nigeria planes....

we're just telling it as it is, a million people can not be wrong...

Anonymous,  6:52 pm  

"Why is their service so awful these days?"

HABITUS? Jeremy?
Virgin experience (no pun intended)has turned you philophical..Pele.

Anonymous,  11:40 pm  

Your statement: " say they just ordered 24 new planes, yeah!! more like 24 junk scarp yard items..."
...proves you're also outright ignorant. Rather than make assumptions, why don't you run a simple google news search?
Embraer, the world's 3rd largest aircraft manufacturer which is based in Brazil, just announced the sale of yet-to-be-assembled Embraer 170/190 aircraft for delivery between Sept. 2008 and 2010. This was announced at the Dubai Airshow 2007 edition, the first time a Nigerian airline announces such large aircraft order at an international airshow.
Is this what you call junk yard machinery these days? Do yourself a favor, and stop reading Nigerian newspapers! Obasanjo was right on this one. They distort news and report "air returns" and emergency landings as "crashes" - just apocalyptical.
Now...Can the Virgin Nigeria product be improved, and are they working on it? You bet. I just think Jeremy seams to have a hobby at bashing Virgin Nigeria rather than acknowledge, even a few, of their accomplishments over the last 3 years.
Consider that the Virgin group was the ONLY party interested in actually setting up in the Nigeria of 2003! Could it be that Branson has faith in this country, even more so than many Nigerians? Perhaps.

Jeremy 11:52 pm  

EchoSierraBravo: I have no idea what your relationship to Virgin Nigeria is - but clearly you are either in their pay in some way, or you have not been subject to their whims in recent times, or you are simply being needlessly defensive.

When they started, they were great and everyone was excited - it was a breath of fresh air for the local airlines industry here. Now they are as crap as the rest - as almost anyone who has used them recently will attest.

Stop deluding yourself with talk of their "accomplishments over the last 3 years" and smell the coffee - their service has gone from bad to worse in recent times and they need to get their act together.

No one gives a fcuk how many new planes they are buying or where they are from- what we care about is not having hours and hours of our lives being pissed away by poor service.. If only there was a regulator who enforced penalties as in Europe - that would wake them up.

I for one will not be travelling Virgin Nigeria in the near future if I can help it...

Tayo 11:57 pm  

Well said Jeremy

Fred 12:58 am  

I remember Harmattan used as an excuse back when I lived in Nigeria. It was bullcrap back then and it is now...

Ntwiga 3:41 am  

Having suffered the vagaries of lost luggage and delayed flights and abrupt treatment at the hands of almost every airline (it would seem) and their staff, I absolutely related to your post.

And I have to add that reading comments like aiyekoto's and EchoSierraBravo's makes me wonder what the world is coming to if anyone thinks that it is OK to sometimes treat people badly because you have a great safety record or clean planes or nicely dressed staff.

In the end, we vote with our wallets.

saybelog,  7:07 pm  

@EchoSierraBravo, now I believe you're definitely on virgin's payroll

"Embraer, the world's 3rd largest aircraft manufacturer which is based in Brazil, just announced the sale of yet-to-be-assembled"

"the first time a Nigerian airline announces such large aircraft order at an international air show."

did you read btw the lines...
"Yet-to-be-assembled"...."the first time a Nigerian airline announces such large aircraft order” let me break it down for you
“Might never be produced” and “look at us world this is what it’s like to be bought by a billionaire’s pocket”

It’s a shame this is what virgin Nigeria needed to justify the sh*t it provides for service.

The third largest aircraft manufacturer or whatever, big deal!!!… like we care about who manufactured the planes..

because if I ever have a good service and flight on Virgin Nigeria remind me send a thank you note Embraer...

Lola 3:08 pm  

well, i'm one person that always travels virgin nigeria, and have never had late flights or really any complaints about them as regards to operation. no, i don't work for virgin, don't know anybody that does. and yes, i've flown lagos abuja, london-lagos more times than i care to count.

Customer service on the other hand can be shyt! ESPECIALLY the ones in london, gosh they are soo awful there.

Anonymous,  7:53 pm  

Husband pissed. Mightily!"What is Virgins problem?" he rants. "Bloody airline! I am at the airport on time for the 6:30,[FOUGHT traffic from VI to ikeja to make Lag to Abuja plane] buy a ticket, notice movement, then an announcement. Its 6 pm so I assume my flight is begin to board. Theres a garbled announcement, but the gist is clear. The 4 o'clock (read FOUR O'CLOCK) flight is just being boarded at 6!!" [ANd he's holding a 6:30 pm ticket!} Beeyothch a** m@th#@fu&kin' Virgin! (okay, my words,- he doesnt swear like me, but i imagine what i'd be saying if it was me...Instead, I yawn. This is SO five days ago.

Aero user,  7:40 am  

AERO. Its the best and they have good sandwhiches and cake. Plus, when you land, you can actually see all the oyibo people working on the planes. Safety guaranteed.

Chxta 11:37 am  

@ Aerouser, the problem with you is no small thing...

femi 11:19 pm  




Chxta 11:25 am  

lol @ Femi's reaction...

You be thief...
I no be thief...

Anonymous,  2:13 am  

extremely hilarious...its ever so pointless to expect anything on the punctuality front from anything or anybody in nigeria, even if richard branson employed his cabin crew from the uk, the boys in control tower would still be nigerian....the only solution would be route the lagos to abj flights via london....

Baba Toksy,  10:25 am  

Virgin 'NIGERIA' Airways, I tell you is a bunch of jokes, I was meant to fly with them on the 5th of December it never happened until after several on and off announcements later on the 6th of December, do I hear a that's not too bad. The ordeal is indescibable, the customer services was shambolic, the treatment of their customers and the ploy they embarked to deny their clients their rights was of a forgotten age.
Their treatment of the frail, elderly and children actually brought strong willed peopple to weep, they lie without blinking and this is just the first day.
The second Day, you would expect a reprieve, you must be joking, we were informed around '3am' that a flight scheduled for 10am would now be leaving at 6.30am by a letter under your door if you didn't hear the phone ring, now imagine your elderly mum your children your nieces making a dash for it and did the plane leave, 'tufia - God forbid' We finally got to Nigeria on board Ghana airlines which kept repeating it's going to lagos rather than Kumasi.
Lagos here we come, where is our baggage - ino dey, we started blaming the conveyor belts for refusing to produce our luggages from the bowels of 'Murtala'
Loads of passengers had weddings in Sokoto, P'harcourt Owerri Ibadan Lagos, what about peopple with connecting flights - all stranded - Virgin Officials - ino dey, probably having pepper soup.
3rd Day returned as promised for our baggages, where you go see am - ino dey of course! Three days still where the same clothes, sympathy from 'contaminated virgins' of course you must be dreaming, this is Richard Branson's Virgin we are talking about, they are too beautiful to condescend to poor nigerians, as zombies now we were instructed to go to the office, the manager cannot be shifted from his/her disvirgined throne.
At this point caution and civility was thrown into the air, a mob action ensued, virgin desk was brought to a standstill not until then did we have genuine assurances from the right quarters, I was finally reconciled with my clothes after 5 days.
I have tasted Virgins customer services and it's not good, I wouldn't want my mum, my children to experience, if anyone thinks otherwise, I pray it would soon be their turn but I won't wish it on my enemy.
How did I smell after nearly four days in the same cloth - No Comment
Clement Olowo

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