Lazy Day in Lagos

Mar 31, 2010

I wasn't sure what to expect of my one night layover in Lagos, Nigeria. I'd heard mixed opinions from crew. Some swore it was terrible, while others stated that it wasn't "that bad". Neither of the two seemed very promising. I arrived to my briefing and saw that the flight load was only half full. "It's a miracle!", I thought, happily. 90% of the flights I've worked have been booked solid. With half of the plane empty, it would be a relaxed, laid-back flight... right? Wrong. We may have only had 105 passengers, but they sure knew how to drink. They cleared us of every bottle of wine, Cognac, and Baileys onboard, and left 2 Heineken at the most. After serving them a tray full of food, they asked for seconds. When we informed them that we only had enough meals for each passenger to have one, they spotted the crew fruit and robbed us of our apples and bananas. It was 8 hours of chaos, the background noise that of constant call bells. One of the adjustments I've had to make with this job is getting used to different methods that people use to get your attention. In some cultures, they snap their fingers. In others, they tug on your pant leg. In Nigerian culture, they hiss. Throughout the flight I heard "Ssss... sssss! Sister, get me red wine!" While there are days that I wish I was working for a Canadian airline, with happy Canadian passengers, I still have yet to feel the urge to return to my former life of office jobs. After landing in Lagos, we headed for our crew bus, complete with armed escorts. Led by a police car and instructed not to open our windows under any circumstance, we felt a bit like royalty and terrified all at the same time. I'm sure that the mass amount of protection is a bit exaggerated, with our airline well aware that they are responsible for our safety. That said, I wasn't complaining about the men with machine guns sitting at the front of the bus. I suppose the negative side of this layover is the fact that not only do we get no meal allowance, but we are basically confined to our hotel. We do, however, get free meals. After checking in and quickly changing, it was off to the buffet with a few other crew members. The power went out a few times as we ate, but everyone continued eating and laughed "Welcome to Nigeria". I indulged in soft buttery bread rolls, spicy Nigerian dishes, prawn cocktails, fresh fruits, and barbeque pork (yes, pork!) ribs. After having my fill of more than I needed, I dragged my suddenly heavier self back to my room and collapsed in my surprisingly super comfortable bed. I woke up from a great sleep and grabbed my room service menu, reading it several times before finally deciding upon french toast and (obviously) bacon. Did I feel guilty for my binge eating in such a poverty stricken country? Yes, slightly. At the same time, most layovers I'm provided with a sum of money to pay for my meals, the majority of which I save to supplement my income. The lack of money meant that I was taking full advantage of my free meals. I enjoyed every bite of my breakfast. I contemplated going to the gym to run it off, but lying by the pool seemed far more favorable. I spent awhile lying in the African sun, chatting to some of my crew and crew from various other airlines. The extreme heat and humidity began to become a bit too much to bear, so I did something very uncharacteristic of me... I headed to my room, sipped a fresh pineapple juice, and then headed for the gym. I tried to pretend that it was my new healthy lifestyle shining through, but secretly I knew I was only stepping on the treadmill for an excuse to eat even more food for lunch. On the pathway to the fitness center I was met by a rather large lizard who stood directly in my path. We both paused and stared at one another, unsure of who should make the first move. Finally I gathered the courage to continue walking and he scurried away. I must admit, it wasn't how I'd imagined my first encounter with African wildlife would be. After successfully breaking a sweat, it was back to my room for a shower before lunch. I contemplated the buffet before deciding upon room service once again... prawn cocktail to start (GIANT prawns... amazing...) , followed by a dinner of grilled salmon. I'd expected small portions, so I was a bit surprised when I was delivered a huge plate of vegetables, a basket of bread rolls, and a bowl of rice on the side. I was determined to eat as much as possible, as I'd be spending 8 hours on a flight with much less appetizing meal choices. I ate until I could barely move, and then proceeded to get ready for my flight back home to Dubai. Once again we followed our police escort to the airport, only to find that our aircraft hadn't yet arrived. We sat at the departure gates for what felt like forever. The air conditioner blew out warm air and the temperature of the room was a balmy 34 degrees. Perhaps bearable wearing shorts, but dressed in a full uniform complete with pants, jacket, and hat, we were dying. I felt the makeup that I'd so carefully applied melting off of my face. When we were finally able to board, we discovered that we had no red wine, very limited juice and soft drinks... and 40 child meals. That is far too many children in one cabin. We were also informed that the safety video was not working and that we'd have to do a manual safety demonstration. I felt like a real flight attendant as I pointed to the exits and demonstrated how to unfasten your seatbelt. I was also quite embarrassed as it was the first time I've had to do the demo and I had to look across the aisle to make sure that I was doing the right thing. Fortunately the flight home ended up being only 7 hours, full of call bells and trying to stay awake as morning approached in Dubai. I finally made it back to my apartment at 9 am, falling asleep at 10. I spent the day sleeping and now I'll be up until the wee hours of the morning, once again. My job is making me nocturnal!


Traytable said...

Great blog, so glad to have stumbled across it. It's nice to get the perspective of fellow Commonwealth citizens working in the UAE, as opposed to crew from Asia or Europe.

Lori said...

Krista you are an amazing story teller and I love reading of all your adventures...It makes my day! Hope you are well and Happy Easter from Canada xo =)

Krysta said...

Thank you soooo much, huge compliment especially from you, since you are practically a celebrity FA blogger. :) Love your blog as well, been following it since I was a wannabe crew member.

Clint said...


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