Arik Air (the wings of Nigeria) has been in business for 10 years. With its modern fleet and snazzy marketing, it is a Nigerian success story that has ridden the wave of the ever appreciating Naira.
While many African airlines are banned from flying to Europe and the US, Arik Air operates to London and New York on their own ‘metal’. I had booked the short trip through Vayama, an OTA which readily includes Arik in its booking engine. The airline also has its own website that makes it easy to buy tickets.
Lagos Airport has an international departure fee of almost $60, so any ticket that leaves Lagos has this fee included. I ended up paying $130 for the 250 miles to Accra – not much longer than a one-way flight between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
I was able to check-in online, though the boarding pass needs to be printed, as mobile boarding passes are not accepted in Lagos. The website is full of disclaimers saying that you need to be at the airport two hours before departure or you will not be able to check-in. They make it sound like check-in ends two hours before departure.
I decided to be a bit early and arrived just before the two-hour deadline, when of course check-in was just about to OPEN.
With no checked luggage and with my boarding pass in hand there was no need to wait around, so I made my way through security and immigration which were really empty before 6 in the morning.
I made my way to the ASL Premium Lounge, where there were no boarding announcements, so I walked over to the gate. There, my passport and visa were checked a third time. And my boarding pass a second time. And then after another manual bag check and another visa and boarding pass check at the plane, I was ready to sit down at 11F – just behind the business class cabin.
The aircraft looked dated but not old, both inside and outside.
The flight attendants made a number of friendly (finally not bossy!) announcements – all in English.
There were screens installed in that first row, but I did not see them switched on during the flight.
Just after take-off, a snack box was distributed that looked decent enough, though I wasn’t hungry.
The flight to Accra is just 35 minutes and the plane continues to Monrovia after that short stop.
In all, this was a pretty solid flight. Arik Air does its best to work with the dilapidated airport infrastructure at their hub in Lagos. The flying experience is solid and given the sky-high fares in Africa it seems downright cheap, especially considering the high airport taxes it distributes to the government.