3 ways to fly smart in Nigeria

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Nigeria’s aviation industry is amongst the largest in Africa. It helps to have a large population, a huge economy and some of Africa’s richest people. Despite that, the industry is not where it should be. Poor safety records, occasional fuel supply problems and the current financial crisis for most of the Nigerian airlines don’t help matters.

I recently enjoyed a big discount on a flight from Lagos to Abuja on Dana Air. The Dana aircraft at Abuja Airport. Photo by Oluniyi David Ajao.
I recently enjoyed a big discount on a flight from Lagos to Abuja on Dana Air. The Dana aircraft at Abuja Airport. Photo by Oluniyi David Ajao.

In the middle of the opportunities and problems, a new trend is emerging in Nigeria’s aviation industry. Over the past few years, all the major airlines have joined the Internet bandwagon and all have a presence on the world wide web. The serious ones among them even offer online booking, complete with online payment and issue e-tickets as a result. Nigerian Eagle Airline (formerly Virgin Nigeria) even offers online check-in.

So you want to fly within or out of Nigeria the smart way? Read on…

1. Find your flights electronically using flight comparison services: You can check for flight availability using services like text2fly.com.ng or kayak.com and you can compare prices using 1spotsearch.com These services aggregate flight data from various airlines, and present the information in a easy-to-use format for you the user. You are thus in a better position to make informed choices where time and cost is critical.

2. Book for your flights online: You cannot enjoy the full value of finding your flights electronically if you do not book online. To be reading this blog, chances are that you can browse websites un-aided. Simply head to the website of the airline you have decided on. All the leading airlines in Nigeria today run an e-commerce website that enables you to find, book and pay for flights online. All you have to do is print the e-ticket delivered to your email inbox and head to the airport for check-in when your booked flight is due. If you do not have access to a printer, the airline would gladly print out your e-ticket for you, at the airport.

3. Look out for promos: Perhaps in a bid to attract people to booking online, some airlines have been announcing promotions that are available online exclusively:

  • A few months ago, Aero Contractors was offering a special discount for all its domestic flights. The special price was N5,000 only. The catch? You have to book and pay online.
  • Dana Air offered its Lagos to Abuja flights for N9,000 only, a few weeks ago. I tried it out, with a lot of scepticism considering that Arik Air and Nigerian Eagle Airline were offering the same flight for N16,000. The flight was just your normal domestic flight and I did not detect a comprise in the quality of service.
  • Arik Air is presently offering Lagos – Johannesburg – Lagos flights for about 70% the fare of its nearest rival.
  • To mark their 1st year anniversary, Dana Air would be offering another round of promotional air fares very soon.

The promos offer much need cost savings. To find them, simply check the respective website of the airlines or the dailies especially when major festivities or holidays are approaching. Whilst hopping onto the promos, look-out for the limitations. Terms and conditions almost always apply.

Some Nigerian airlines that offer scheduled passenger flight bookings via their websites, in alphabetical order:

  1. Aero Contractors – http://www.flyaero.com/
  2. Arik Air – http://www.arikair.com/
  3. Bellview Airlines – http://www.flybellviewair.com/ (presently on life-support; NCAA has suspended its flights. I only listed it because it is not yet officially defunct. Promises to resume flights on 1st December 2009)
  4. Dana Air – http://www.flydanaair.com/
  5. Kabo Air – http://www.kaboair.com/
  6. Nigerian Eagle Airlines – http://www.virginnigeria.com/

16 COMMENTS

  1. Hi well and good tips, now I’ve never been to Nigeria but I’ve heard some local airlines double or triple book tickets/boarding passes – so you have to run to the plane and be first in your assigned seat. Is that true? If so how can that be avoided?

  2. Bankele, what you stated might have been possible in the past but I am highly sceptical about right now. With electronic booking, I strong doubt that a flight can be overbooked or a seat assigned to two or more people.

    I have never witnessed such.

  3. @bankelele:

    Airlines are legally allowed to overbook flights to hanlde no shows. If the check in cut-off time passes, any extra seats are given to those on stand-by who have already checked in. In the event that everybody checks in, airlines offer a compensation such as cash or a night in a hotel + cash. So overbooking is not a ‘Nigerian’ problem.

    Also, passengers in Nigeria do not have to run to the plane to be the first to get a seat because boarding passes have seat numbers. Some people try to get into the plane early because they are carrying a large amount of hand luggage and they wish to stock them in the overhead cabins

    • I am not aware of a direct flight between Lagos and Kuala Lumpur, Chiwuba. Typically, you would have to fly indirectly.
      Qatar Airways is currently the cheapest. They would fly you via Doha. Another option is Emirates. They would fly you via Dubai.

  4. Hi man, what is cheapest rate for Owerri to lagos flights? I heard that one airline is going for N5,000. How true is it?

  5. I am into a business that might require me shuttling between Lagos and Port-Harcourt regularly. What is ur advice on the best and most economical airline to take?

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