Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya – Flight problems and ATM fun

Index
The human pin cushion
Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya trip report – pre-trip
The flights
Accra
Coconut Grove
The rain forest
Nigeria Air and Sheraton
Flight problems and ATM fund
Kenya
The trip home

After holding business meetings for a couple of days in Lagos, it was time to leave for my next destination – Nairobi, Kenya.

That morning I ate at the breakfast buffet from the hotel. There was a wide variety of food choices – was definitely a top notch buffet.

Breakfast buffet

Breakfast buffet

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In the lobby it was SPG week at the hotel. There was a thatched hut that has been built in the lobby with various people singing and dancing. There was even a SPG cake where the “G” had already been consumed.

Happy Birthday with a cake.

Happy Birthday with a cake.

Our flight was scheduled to depart from Lagos to Nairobi at 11:30 am on Kenya Airlines. Due to the heavy traffic, I checked out at 9 am and dumped all the local currency I had with me, saving just enough to pay for the taxi to the hotel. The 10 kilometers to the airport took 50 minutes to get there again.

We arrived at the Lagos airport. Some information about the Lagos airport – there isn’t any air conditioning and there aren’t a lot of shops / restaurants either. Our plan was to spend the least amount of time as possible there.

We looked up at the flight board and saw our flight on there.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

We started walking around – and couldn’t find our check in gate anywhere. We didn’t think anything of it as we were here a little bit early. With an hour to go before the flight, there still wasn’t a check in gate anywhere. Our flight still showed up on the flight board. What was going on?

Someone finally approached us and asked if they could help us. My instincts instantly were that they were trying to somehow scam us. I told him that we couldn’t find our flight to Nariobi anywhere. He informed us that the flight had been cancelled and was instead scheduled for 9:30 PM. I was immediately skeptical and said thanks for the information. I think he could sense my skepticism – so he pointed down the terminal and said – go talk to Kenya Airlines. We made our way over there and sure enough, our flight had been cancelled weeks ago and rescheduled as a night flight. It was so strange that the morning flight was still showing on the flight board.

We were in a real bind now – the Lagos airport was super hot, with nowhere to really go or do and we had already checked out of our hotel. I didn’t really feel like sitting here for 10 hours. We decided that we would take our chances and head back to the Sheraton to see if there was anyway to get our rooms back.

My colleague took some more cash out of the ATM in order to get us to and from the hotel. We found a taxi and drove the 10 kilometers / 50 minutes back to the hotel. We went back up to the 6th floor to the SPG desk and told them our story. We told them how there was a mixup with our flights and was there anyway we could check back in with a 4 PM checkout due to my Platinum status?

The employee, Lizzy Upka, said she would be happy to do it and to give us a 4 PM checkout. Lizzy went above and beyond anything the hotel needed to do!

At this point, my business colleague went absolutely white. I asked me what was wrong as it seemed like things had totally worked out for us. He said,”I left my ATM card in the machine at the airport.”

At this point it had been a full hour since we had left the airport. It’s one thing to lose your ATM card in the US or anywhere else. But to leave it…… in an ATM……. at the airport…… in Lagos, Nigeria……?

I had visions of what the person who found the ATM card must have done. It would be the equivalent of hitting the jackpot – an American ATM card that was left for me!

My colleague immediately called his bank – fearing the worst that thousands of dollars had been drained out of his account. He was on hold for about 15 minutes when he receive the great news that no transactions had happened on his account! He immediately cancelled the card and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

We were able to hang out at the hotel until 4 PM checkout. We took our stuff to the lobby and used the free wifi in the lobby until 6 PM. We took a taxi back to the airport. Finally the correct flight was showing on the flight board. As I was checking in our bags, I noticed the person next to me was checking in a folding metal chair? Why in the world would you be taking a metal folding chair with you to Kenya? Was he a professional wrestler going there for a steel cage match? Weird.

We went through security. My travel companion informed me that the very last person at the end of security was basically there to shake you down and demand money. As our bags came through the metal detector – we grabbed them, kept our head down and just walked past him.

We went to the Air France lounge that was pretty crammed, had no air conditioning but rather a bunch of bigs fans. Nigeria and Ghana were playing each other in soccer on the TV.

It was time for the flight departure so we headed over to the gate. The security seemed incredibly lax. People were basically walking in and out of the gate with no apparent security or any type of organization at all. It was actually a bit unnerving. We finally boarded our Kenya Airlines flight and settled in for a 7 hour red eye flight. I had business meetings scheduled for all day the next day and wasn’t looking forward to the long redeye flight in coach.

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