While most people attach great importance to memories like their first kiss, their first love, first sex etc. One memory that will always remain fresh in my head is my first flight experience.
I was a bit naive when it came to airports and was really intimidated by the size of air-planes, but I relied heavily on my interpretations from movies so I thought I’d be fine.
LESSON NO 1: TV CAN NEVER REPLACE REALITY
I don’t know if I’m right to call it my first flight. My mother told me she had reasons to fly 6 times while I laid in her womb, free from the worries of the world.
My heart was thumping as I stepped into the domestic wing of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. My destination was the city of Portharcourt, Rivers State.
I would have let my phobia for height cast me into one of those rickety commercial buses but I had to be in Port-harcourt in the next 5 hours for an examination and I needed to take advantage of Aero Contractors cheap ten thousand Naira flight.
After I was scrutinised at the checkpoint, one of the officials told me I was three hours early for a domestic flight.
It was going to be a long wait.
Everyone at the airport seemed to mind their own business which is the complete opposite of what happens at bus terminals. Two hours later, a public figure with a small gang strode into the airport.
It was The Kokomaster.
From the front row I sat, I screamed at the top of my voice
My voice echoed and suddenly, everyone turned towards the village girl except the guy I called.
Dbanj didn’t even wave at me to save me the embarrassment.
Almost everyone seated were reading Businessday newspaper.
They must be ‘the business class people’ I presumed.
When you are in Newyork, you gotta act like Newyork.
For the first time in my life, I also grabbed a Business day paper and buried my head between the pages.
I glanced at my watch only to realise I’ve been waiting for two hours and thirty minutes. My next challenge was how I was going to figure out which one was my flight. The voiceover was speaking in many tongues in an American accent. The only thing I understood was ‘ATTENTION’
She kept capturing my attention as she requested but leaving my brain CPU high and dry each time.
Three hours and ten minutes I was still seated. A woman tapped me from behind.
”Where are you going. You’ve been here for ages”
“Aero, Port-harcourt” I responded confidently.
“Ah! your flight was announced fifteen minutes ago. Go there” she pointed at a narrow passage.
I silently cursed the heartless public announcer for putting me in that position. I grabbed my bag and dashed towards the direction she pointed. That was when I came face to face with one of my worst fears.
Not like I’ve had opportunities to ascend or descend on one before. I just feel I am escalaphobic from mere looking at pictures of an escalator which is a really cool name for a neurosis.* *
Imagine the respect I’ll get from the presidency if I have to introduce myself that way in Aso Rock.
To hell with my fears. My 10,000 Naira Aero flight was at stake. My heart began racing fast while I placed my hands on the moving rail, took one awkward step forward….the torture lasted about 38 seconds until it eventually flung me in front of a small crowd.
“Oh, Dbanj girlfriend, so you’re on the flight too” one guy in his early 30’s teased me.
I frowned and hissed at him.
*LESSON NO 2: *NEVER BE RUDE TO STRANGERS
Fast-forward fifteen minutes and I was finally seated in the plane beside the teaser of all passengers.
“Let me help you buckle that” he offered to help with my seatbelt while I struggled with it.
“I can do it myself!”
“Then why are you acting like this is your first time on a plane? Or is it?” He had the most annoying grin.
“This is my seventh time” I replied sternly.
LESSON NO 3: ALWAYS BE TRUTHFUL
“Sorry to disturb then” he left me to my fate.
The plane eventually took off with my fingers wedging my seatbelt buckle after my unsuccessful attempts with it.
” Young lady are you okay?”
I looked up to see the air hostess smiling at me. She said I had goose pimples right up to my forehead.
Very embarrassing for a ‘seventh-timer’. Another hostess pulled a cart of food, drinks and snacks beside me.
“What do you care for ma’am?”
God bless Aero Contractors.
There was nothing I didn’t order for. From assorted animals, snacks to wines.
My co passenger watched me while I nibbled hungrily. I didn’t even offer him like a typical Nigerian.
When the bills came, it amounted to 3/4 of the cost of my flight ticket. So basically, I went on a plane just to buy lunch?
“You say what????? But I thought the food was free” I pleaded with puppy eyes.
God, don’t let them throw me out of the window. I prayed silently.
If I had to pay for that, I was going to trek from Port-harcourt airport to my destination.
My co passenger, aka Mr Teaser brought out his wallet and rescued a damsel in distress.
“I’m so grateful” I thanked him while avoiding his eyes
Minutes later I drifted into a sleep of shame.The last thing I remembered was the air hostess in front of us. Those smiles were gone. Her beautiful eyes were filled with tears.
“Attention! Attention!! Attention please!!! You are advised to remain calm! There is no cause for panic I repeat! There is no cause for panic! I’m sorry but there is cause for panic! Mayday! Mayday!! Mayday!!!”
”Chinekeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ohhhhhhh. Mummy oooooh plane crash, plane crasshhhhh. Who send me oooooo…. Aero is crashing ooooo” I was screaming at the top of my voice.
“Young lady, are you okay” the air-hostess was tapping me. I looked up only to realise it was dream.
My co passenger and others were laughing hysterically.
The ‘attention’ I heard in my dream was an announcement telling us the plane was about to land.
As I stepped out, Mr Teaser pulled my hands
“I’ve been flying on a monthly basis for more than eight years and trust me, I’ve never met a first time passenger as weird as you”
“I told you before It is my sev….” I smiled and pause my sentence halfway.