Thursday, 5 June 2008

T5

5th June…today all British Airways flights between Heathrow and Nigeria move to the dreaded Terminal 5…This post is to mark the occasion.

Will Nigerians suffer the jinx of T5?…I suspect some will fall prey to that place…I have. I don’t fly British Airways to Nigeria because I don’t like wahala…I believe in a stress free life so if anything or anybody tries to compromise that they get cast aside...case in point – British Airways.

I loved British Caledonia when I was younger but when they stopped my family switched to British Airways. About 3 years ago I refused to spend money on the disrespect and the poor service on the London to Lagos BA route so I switched to Virgin Atlantic…no regrets so far.

At this point I have to confess that about 1 month before I travelled I received an invite to join one of those never fly British Airways or boycott flying British Airways groups on facebook. I simply clicked ‘confirm’ without thinking about it twice. If you are Nigerian you will guess why…if not, the antics of ‘brutish airways’ are summarised perfectly in Solomonsydelle's blogs.

At this point I also have to confess to a dual truth…I still tend to use British Airways 2 fly everywhere else.

I think God wanted me to test out this dichotomy…I think I knew inside…somewhere deep down I would fall foul of this one day…such beliefs cannot co-exist in one person.

I’ll start with a song by R Kelly that described how I was feeling when I woke up that day:

‘…I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door …’

I believed I could fly…twice in one day…British Airways did not…the cretins at Terminal 5 slammed the door firmly in my face and then lost my luggage. At that moment my brain scattered…I was confused and tired…but mostly confused.

Rewind back to how my day had started…well…in Ikoyi. Nepa was behaving so the generator hadn’t disturbed my sleep. We thank God o!

I stepped out of bed. I couldn’t walk properly…my feet were on fire…I laughed as a remembered dancing at my aunt’s ‘birthday do’ in 4 inch heels…i love family functions like that...so i thought no long thing. I showered and dressed. I put on a cute pair of hoop earrings. Then packed, had breakfast and said my goodbyes.

I got in the car & gave the driver his ‘dash’…normally I do this at the airport but for some reason that day I gave him the money at the house. I think that the generosity sent Wale into some sort of euphoria. However, his joy started the run of bad luck that stayed with me the whole day.

Forewarning 1 – in an attempt to avoid the morning traffic in oshodi, Wale started diverting left, right and centre…this shortcut and then that shortcut…he would then loose his bearings and take the wrong turns. At one point I realised we were headed back to ikoyi. I lost it then…suffice to say I yelled at him to disengage all the loose wires short circuiting in his brain and follow the directions I gave. I routed us back through oshodi to get to the airport.

Forewarning 2 – My Baba was furious. He was at the airport and he’d been waiting since 7:30am. He needed to hand over some documents to me. It was now 8:15am and I was not there. He called me:

Baba: Where are you?
Shubby Doo: Good morning sir. I’m in the car to the airport
Baba: Where are you? What is your estimated time of arrival?
Shubby Doo: I’m not sure sir…we are stuck in traffic in oshodi
Baba: Why are you behaving like this?…awon uncle and aunty sachs are here already…oshodi ke? Why did you go that way? Kilode…Shubby Doo why are doing this today?


Me ke?

At that point, I tried to cut in to explain. He hung up…ha!!!…not a good sign…not a good sign at all.

My dad is a retired Air force officer and 1 minute late is unacceptable. He kept calling me every 2mins after that but I was too afraid to pick up…I got 14 missed calls from his number. I focused on just getting Wale to the airport…

Forewarning 3 – I faced my Baba’s wrath at the airport…I greeted him and he threatened to go military on me…lol…I laugh now but he did use those exact words…on hearing this, I ducked away, greeted uncle and aunty sachs and went to check in.

Forewarning 4 – When I got to the gate to board my flight I realised I couldn’t find my boarding pass and Nigerian passport in my handbag…my Baba has special privileges...it means he can stroll through most of Murtala Mohammed…so you guessed it…he was there when I discovered I longer had my particulars.

Baba: What is it?
Shubby Doo: I can’t find my nigerian passport and boarding pass
Baba: Not possible
Shubby Doo: I don’t have it. I’ve checked
Baba: Can you use your British Passport?
Shubby Doo: I can’t. It has no Nigerian visa on it. Plus I don’t have my boarding pass


My father just looked at me with contempt. I rushed back to the lounge. I searched…no passport or boarding pass. I returned to where my father was seated.

Baba: Did you find it?
Shubby Doo: No


For some reason I decided to check my laptop bag...thank God...it had my naija passport and boarding pass inside it. At that moment, I swear if looks could kill, the expression on my Baba’s face would have vaporised me.

Baba: You cannot be doing this...ara reo bale! You must always know where everything is kept. You need to be organised. How many times have I told you this? This could have been very embarrassing
Shubby Doo: Sorry sir
Baba: If it is work that is making you confused…

I apologised again, thanked him, disappeared through the gate and boarded my Virgin Atlantic flight to London.

The flight was fine. I called my younger brother to help me check in online for my British Airways connecting flight when I landed. He did. I got my bags within 10mins, said good bye to uncle and aunt sachs and headed for arrivals. I saw my older brother and we raced from T3 to T5.

I got there & started to repack some things into a new smaller case. My phone rang…it was my mother calling from Nigeria.

Shubby Doo: Hello Mãe
Mãe: My dear, how are u?
Shubby Doo: I’m fine Mãe. I got in safe at sound. We are at T5. I’m just repacking…I can’t talk but hold on
Mãe: Shubby Doo…Shubby Doo…wait…just listen…


I didn’t. I passed phone to my brother who explained that I had 10mins left to repack and drop my bags off.

Forewarning 5 – when my brother hung up he told me that my mother had said I was not to check in any of my bags because of the T5 fiasco.

Forewarning 6 – There was something wrong with the handle of the small suitcase so I had to take the bag to ‘oversize’...yes o! against my mother's correct advice, I checked in my small case (with my flat keys, my car keys et al).

Forewarning 7 – My brother told me to go through to the departure lounge straight away. I said I’d rather sit down, relax and jist small. I started telling him about my trip to Lagos.

With 30mins to go, I waved goodbye to my brother headed to security…the guy asked for my boarding pass. I gave it to him. He asked for ID. I handed over my driving license…I was still smiling and humming to myself in my head…yes o! I was humming I believe I can fly! He swiped my boarding pass…I stood there and waited for him to take my picture...to myself i thought strike a pose... lol...he still had not let me through security for my domestic flight...why? I gave him a puzzled look...he simply said “I’m sorry. Your boarding pass is invalid.”

Invalid ke? Not possible.

At the British Airways desk…they told me that I missed the 35mins deadline to get through security. None one told me that. My ticket conditions said check in 60mins prior the flight and baggage drop 45mins prior to the flight. British Airways didn’t care. Apparently they had already off loaded my case too. There was no way I was getting on that flight.

The test had failed...or maybe I had failed the test...

I sighed. I called my colleagues and told them not to come to Manchester airport to pick me up. I wouldn’t be there.

I went down to baggage reclaim to get my case… it was still in the system and they were trying to find it. They couldn’t estimate when I would get it. I was weak...

The guy at the desk felt sorry for me…he kept telephoning people to help…they kept saying they weren’t trained to use the system to check for my case...how?! My blood began to boil...

I needed to be in Manchester for 8am tomorrow. I could catch a coach to my place and then drive. No…I didn’t have my flat or car keys! Any fix to my dilemma needed something I had packed away in the case that was now lost in the system. I should have listened to my Ma’a.

I called my boss and told him I had missed my flight…could I take a hire car?…he said yes but as it was now 8pm I should consider taking a taxi to Manchester instead…I was to find a way to get to Manchester by all means.

At 8:30pm I got a text from my boss saying ‘I hope you are enjoying having the time to inspect T5’s excellent baggage system’…I swear if he wasn’t the company director I would have called him and finished him…

By now tears were welling up in my eyes but I was too tired to cry. I was emotional and cranky. I was about to explode and I needed an outlet for my frustration that wouldn’t land me in jail.

I wanted to call home...‘Home’, when my siblings & I are talking to each other, automatically means our parents place…I moved out right after I graduated and now live just outside London.

But I didn’t call home...my ears started ringing with my father’s foreboding voice from earlier… I don’t do ‘I told you so’ very well.

My brother called me at 9pm...had I landed safe and sound? I said yes...irrational I know but I just couldn't tell him what was going on without breaking down...

At 9:30pm…I gave the guy at the British Airways baggage reclaim desk my work address so that they could deliver my case there…he said it would get there the next day…yeah right!…It actually arrived 2 days later! To keep me calm he started trying to console me…I would get my bag back…a lady yesterday had waited for her bags but she got them back after 3 hours…opari!…my blood pressure started rising again.

At 9:45pm…the British Airways desk at T5 closed and I still didn’t have my luggage.

I called a number of taxi companies… it would be about £450 to get to Manchester…Since I had cleared it with my boss I knew the company were going to pay me back but saying yes meant I would have to get cash out of my account and wait 1 month to be paid back. No way!

At this point I have to thank the guy at the baggage reclaim desk…he had called a taxi firm British Airways use and priced it down to £240…I called the number and booked the taxi. It arrived at 10:45pm.

I called my colleague in manchester...I wanted him to tell the hotel that I was still coming…I didn’t want to get there and find I had nowhere to sleep. Plus I sent him a text with the car registration number of the taxi that had picked me up…if anything happened to me the driver would at least stand trial…if not go to jail. Plus I came right out & told the taxi driver what I’d done and why I had done it lest he got any funny ideas…

I got to the hotel in Manchester at 01:45am.

This is the clincher…with no change of clothes I went to the presentation in the same clothes I’d been wearing the day before…can you imagine?!...I’m a consultant, participating in a whole day presentation with our biggest client...potentially this alliance could bring in 10s of millions (sterling) for us annually...everybody else was looking sharp in their suits but I turn up in low rise blue jeans and a ‘off the shoulder’ white and pink pokerdot top! Oh…the shame!!! I took off the hoop earrings sha!

I called a close family friend of mine to recount this tale to her…this is why I love her to bits:

The Doctor: My sista, welcome back. how now? How was naij?
Shubby Doo: I dey o! That part was fine. It was the journey back. Heathrow T5...
The Doctor: Sounds ominous…what happened?
Shubby Doo: They bounced me...can you imagine?...said I needed to be through security 35mins before my flight. I was 5mins late. They no even give me face
The Doctor: Walai…they did that to me too…I lost over £200 and had buy another ticket to Scotland
Shubby Doo: Kai! Pele my dear but why didn’t you tell me? When?
The Doctor: About 6 weeks ago. Walai talai. I was traumatised by the whole thing. I wanted to start rushing about to see if I could get on the next flight to get to work the next day but then I thought there is no need. No need at all. They will survive without me. Life will go on.


Now why didn’t I think of that?!!

14 comments:

Jarrai 5 June 2008 at 16:05  

My goodness, you definatelty put the S in stressful journey

Bristish Airways are incompetent to a 100 degrees. I travelled with them last year to glasgow for a 3 day flight and they lost my bag too. Had to buy clothes, shoes, toiletries...you name it at the airport. Was so freaking pissed too because their customer service pple couldn't do jack shit...why?? "Its not showing up on the system".

However...you cannot say the trip was boring now can you???


I think this is my first time here...nice blog

rethots 5 June 2008 at 16:13  

Hmmm,....have realised sometimes 'tis not necessary to go the extra mile (office-wise) "They will survive without me. Life will go on."
Imagine, a colleague of mine had his leave (3weeks) and still came to the office about 3days during the first week. Lailai.....leave, sharrrp, you don't see my back side in the office.

At least, you got your luggage. An Engineer. Cute!

Shubby Doo 6 June 2008 at 08:22  

@jarrai - lol...no it wasn't boring. thank you & welcome...

@rethots - that i did. thanks

Naapali 8 June 2008 at 23:45  

I read somewhere that you cannot truly know someone until you have visited their home hence my uninvited visit. I hope to be invited back.

Shubby Doo 9 June 2008 at 08:30  

@ pink–satin - lol...I’d love to join in the cheer but before I went to Nigeria I had already bought a ticket to go to Istanbul for a friend’s wedding. I leave this Friday. I fly British Airways. I am...scared!

@ naapali - I believe in the richness of shared experiences. That is why I am here. I understand that no man walks alone so you do not require one. The door is open. No need to knock...simply come in whenever you choose and make yourself comfortable...mi casa es su casa

Atutupoyoyo 9 June 2008 at 15:54  

British Airways are the scourge of our skies. I shudder at the thought of the chaos that awaits with the transfer to T5. I hope that I am just being a doom merchant but I see nothing but more wahala as you describe it.

Charizard 12 June 2008 at 08:41  
This comment has been removed by the author.
naijaleta 12 June 2008 at 12:49  

Really long post but interesting. Take it easy with baba o. Me I dey fear ex-military men O! Regards to him

SOLOMONSYDELLE 27 June 2008 at 23:06  

ah, I am so sorry you went through that. I don't understand why if you were only 5 minutes late they could not make an exception for you.

And, your baba sounds like a serious guy oh. Na wa. Please tell us more stories about him. I am sure y ou have some funny tales to tell about living with your pops.

Take it easy and thanks for the link to one of my Brutish airways posts.

Shubby Doo 30 June 2008 at 11:48  

@SSD – I couldn’t explain brutish airways like you so the link was a no-brainer.
Perhaps BA should have said yes but all they did was ‘show me’ after I had messed up…I was too cocky about everything that day…It just goes to show that maybe sometimes it is worth it to stop and just listen.

Buttercup 18 July 2008 at 22:43  

wow...to say that was crazy wud be an understatement of the century...wow...u's a survivor!

Buttercup 18 July 2008 at 22:46  

i wanna read all ur posts but i have to go now...will def be back! take care!

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