By Pearl Ngwama
An Air Peace passenger, Mr. Christopher Aniagbaoso, has condemned Air Peace for deboarding him in one of his recent flights to Owerri.
Aniagbaoso who was supposed to be on-board the airline’s Lagos-Owerri flight on 12th of May said he was not only deboarded but was also denied opportunity to travel with the airline the following day.
Speaking in Igbo to press men in Lagos yesterday, Aniagbaoso said he was at the airport on the said day and checked in but missed his flight while receiving a call that took almost 30minutes.
He said he went on to ask if there was another available flight and he was told to pay additional N7,200 to join the next flight at 2pm same day.
However, he was allotted a seat by the emergency exit.
Aniagbaoso said before take-off, he was being instructed on how to use the emergency exit by one of the hostesses but he told her that he didn’t understand English very well and would therefore prefer to be briefed in his local Igbo language. The hostess called a colleague of hers who was Igbo but he said she said there was no way she could explain the instructions in Igbo.
He added that he later got help from a fellow passenger who explained the instructions that were being given but was surprised when he was asked to leave the seat by the hostess for another. In any case he said he obliged.
“Surprisingly, as I sat on the alternative seat I was asked to leave the flight on instruction of the pilot. Because I didn’t want to be unruly I left the aircraft quietly,” Aniagbaoso said.
He alleged that he further requested for another flight for which he was asked to pay a sum of N3,000 as no-show fee for another flight the next day. He said he expressed surprise at the ‘no-show payment of N3,000 since he had no faults as to why he could not go with the departing flight.
According to him, he agreed to pay with the intention to sort it out with Air Peace management later but was told by the manager that he would not be allowed to use the airline henceforth.
Aniagbaoso describing Air Peace action as I’ll treatment said: “I eventually travelled to Port Harcourt that same12th May via Arik Air with an exobitant ticket fare and took a cab to Owerri.
“But I got to Owerri late and lost millions of naira to a business appointment I missed.”
However, Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Chris Iwarah, responding on a statement said: “Christopher Aniagboso had missed his morning Lagos-Owerri flight on May 12, 2019. He later showed up for the afternoon flight in good time and was issued an over-wing exit seat on request.
“After boarding, he was approached by a crew member for the normal safety briefing for passengers in the over-wing exit seats, but he suddenly claimed he could not understand English. Other passengers around him offered to translate to him, but he insisted that the crew must brief him in Igbo.
“When all efforts to have Aniagboso cooperate with the crew failed, the crew advised him to change his seat as the flight was already running late.
He declined the advice to change his seat. The captain of the flight, who was eventually briefed on the development, also did everything to secure Aniagboso’s cooperation to no avail. At this point, our crew members were left with no other alternative than to advise Aniagboso to disembark to enable the flight depart.
“It is important to state that only those who are able to clearly understand and express their willingness to perform their safety responsibility are allowed by aviation regulations to sit in the exit row. It is also clearly stated in the safety cards that only those who can speak English are allowed to sit in the exit row,” the statement read.
Iwarah speaking later with our correspondent on phone said the action of the airline was not based on language barrier as Air Peace encourages its passengers to speak their local language but that Aniagbaoso became unruly and hesitant to change his seat.
He added that Air Peace was ready to refund Aniagbaoso his ticket fund should he request for it.