My most recent trip through the domestic airport in Lagos proved to be quite normal, though I realized normal here may be mildly interesting to you. The domestic airport is quite nice, there is actually an old domestic, new domestic and international aiport. They are in the same area but not all that close and are not connected by any type of airpot transport like shuttle bus or tram. Waiting in line is always a pain because there are rarely dividers to section off lines and people will be very rude when it comes to cutting. You can pay someone to get your ticket and check your bag but its certainly an under the table arrangemnt. It is very annoying to see them pass in front of you but they will split the money with the ticket counter. And actually, if you are late for a flight it is a great express option.
Lagos Domestic Airport (October 2011)
When I was waiting in line the power went out twice. You can tell who is new to Nigeria simply by viewing if someone has any type of reaction. Power outages are so normal in Nigeria that not even the airport is immune. I assume they have their computers on a back up supply because it did not slow the line. The line moved very slow and I noticed a massive sign in back of the escalator. It read, “AIDS!!!! Now that we have your attention, please do not leave any baggage unattended…and remember to play safe”. Well, that is sure an interesting tactic.
When I was done with check in I went upstairs to security. A women and her child were blocking the escaltor and the young child, maybe five or six, was obviously scared of the escalator. The women asked if I could escort her and I of course obliged. Kids in Lagos are about a million times cuter than village kids due to a combination of nutrition and style. Sometimes it is depressing to see these kids but this time the girl was so damn cute. When we reached the top the mom met me and thanked me. She told the girl, “What do we tell uncle?…Thank you”. I like how people will address strangers as uncle, auntie, brother,sister, father and mother. It feels a lot better than sir or mam, thats fo sure.
I put my bags through security and stepped through the detector. A security guard patted me down and when he felt my money he asked, “Anything for me?”. I said, “No”. They then asked to look in my bag. I had a small scissors and the man said it was not allowed. He asked for something small, eventually pressing for 500 Naira. We went back and forth in Pidgin and I eventually let with my scissors and money. It is very common for people to try to extort you but you simply have to be firm and outlast them. I am surprised the scissors guy let me goso easy; it is usually when you are in violation (no matter how slight!) of something that you are really screwed. This is the only reason why people wer there seatbelts here. It is not that you will get a ticket, rather you will just have to pay a bribe.
I then waited for my flight. There is no announcement board so you have to listen to a very raspy and distorted voice announcing departures and delays. About a half hour after we were to board they announced we were delayed a half hour. I wasn’t sure what that meant but I would wait anther hour till we boarded. There was one flight that was announced to be delayed an hour but then literally two minute later was announced to be boarding. I am telling you, if anything this country keeps you on your toes!