Flying (within Nigeria)

Let me confess that I am not a fan of flying, anywhere. Because of Canada’s size, flying from one coast to the another takes roughly nine hours, and that’s if it was a direct flight. Driving is not an option unless you have a lot of time on your hands, so I’ve had to fly within the country a few times, and I’ve been a nervous flyer every time. God hears from me regularly during these flights, and every instance of turbulence has me squeezing my eyes shut and repeating over and over again something about how God is the one in control.

It’s horrible to even think of planes crashing when I am a child of God (and I certainly rebuke plane crashes in Solomon Sydelle style) but I can’t pretend that I don’t think of the worst case scenario each time I enter a plane.

So, when I arrive safe and sound on Nigerian soil, the only thing I want to do is kiss the ground and thank God for preserving the lives of each person on the plane, especially the pilots. I’m so full of good will toward all that any beggars around would surely benefit from the euphoria that I’m filled with. Needless to say, the last thing I want to do is enter another plane.

But…I want to visit Abuja. Driving there from Lagos is possible, of course, but it’s a long drive, the roads aren’t that great and with traffic jams the trip could quite literally take the whole day. Combine that with a limited amount of vacation time and a lot of people to see, it makes sense to hop on the plane and be able to go from Lagos to Abuja and back within one or two days, then head (by car) to Ondo state for all the family goodness.

I know many of you regularly fly within Nigeria. So please, educate those of us who are truly clueless on the matter. Our family is closer to Lagos than Abuja, so the plan would be the get the visit to Abuja out of the way before heading home. So, would it be better to fly into Abuja directly and then hop on the plane and fly to Lagos when we’re done? Or, should we land in Lagos, store the majority of our luggage with friends, then fly to Abuja and fly back to Lagos? We have no family or friends in Lagos that we’d want to impose on, so this is why option 2 is somewhat appealing, since we wouldn’t have to worry about all our luggage. I’d like to hear your recommendations with regard to:

  • the best airlines (for Lagos to Abuja or Abuja to Lagos flights)
  • whether online booking is the way to go (I’ve heard it is)
  • how to get the best rates
  • what anyone who has never flown within Nigeria should know
  • any other tips or tricks for flying within the country

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21 thoughts on “Flying (within Nigeria)

  1. * the best airlines (for Lagos to Abuja or Abuja to Lagos flights)- That would be Arik Air, the nations preffered airline.

    * whether online booking is the way to go (I’ve heard it is)- Yes it is…..Arik or Aero would be good for you. Arik for speed, Aero for consistency

    * how to get the best rates- The best rates are from Aero and you have to book a few weeks ahead.

    * what anyone who has never flown within Nigeria should know- 80% of the time Virgin Nigeria are always NOT on time

    * any other tips or tricks for flying within the country- Pray and be patient.

    Anyway it would be better if you fly directly into lagos then fly in an out of Abuja…You dont want to be moving suitcases fro Pillar to post. Fly safe.

  2. Based on your questions, here are my recommendations:

    Best Airlines for LOS-ABJ route: Aero-Contractors, Dana Air, Virgin Nigeria, Arik Airlines. There are other airlines of course, but these are my picks + they've never had a crash.

    Online booking/payment:: this gives you cheaper fares. The earlier you book, the cheaper. Most of the airlines have online payment options and If you book at least 2 months in advance, you can get tickets as low as N3,000 on Aero-Contractors.

    How to get the best rates? Online of course.

    Aero-Contractors: http://www.flyaero.com
    Dana Air: http://www.flydanaair.com
    Virgin Nigeria: http://www.virginnigeria.com
    Arik Airlines: http://www.arikair.com
    What anyone who has never flown within Nigeria should know Avoid touts or anyone offering any kind of assistance not in a uniform or with an ID card visibly displayed. Expect some flight delays. Also, Arik Airlines flies to domestic routes from the old domestic airport which is a mess, small and usually chaotic.

    Any other tips or tricks for flying within the country If you do not know your way around, always use airport taxis. They are usually more expensive but safer. Always haggle with the taxis for a better fare before you board. You can start with half the initial fare.

    That's all I can think of for now, GNG

    I'm sure others will offer better advice.

  3. So I'd finally make the relevant comment on this subject. The last time I 'tried', I was totally shooting off! :-) Anyways, here goes:

    * the best airlines (for Lagos to Abuja or Abuja to Lagos flights)

    Arik Air http://arikair.com/ or Aero Contractors http://xrl.us/bgte7d would be your best options. I fly more with Arik, mostly work-related. Aero is good for those personal deals.

    * whether online booking is the way to go (I’ve heard it is)

    Yes, online booking are offered on both web sites above. If you book 3-5 days ahead on Aero, you pay lesser than if you pay on the day before or on the exact day of your travel. Arik doesn't offer any less, I believe.

    * how to get the best rates

    See above…on Aero Contractors; Also, you'd likely need a Nigerian bank-issued ATM card for domestic flights' online reservations.

    * what anyone who has never flown within Nigeria should know

    Since the unfortunate and near simultaneous crashes years back, the FAAN has 'tried' to maintain a good record of airport maintenance and jet inspection because they have to keep the other international known flying brands (BA, Virgin, and now Delta) flying into our airports.

    The airline coys also do what they can to reassure their frequent fliers. However, service-wise, the airports don't always meet/beat your expectations (except for the somewhat novel MMA-2).

    Expect some turbulence when you fly into Lagos airspace, something about the skies down there.

    * any other tips or tricks for flying within the country

    Nothing out of the ordinary as you'd get in other parts of the world. Watch your luggage

    As you said, option 2 makes more sense. Get to Lagos first, stash some of your luggage with friends instead of going about with plenty luggage, and proceed to Abuja on a domestic flight. Int'l flights in to Abuja cost more than Int'l flights in to Lagos. So when you fly in to Lagos, you save some $s. Unless it's absolutely necessary and your primary destination is Abuja, then you can fly directly in to Abuja.

    If you have less luggage that you won't have to worry about dragging along with you, then you could book a flight headed directly for Abuja. The trade-off would be its convenience and you won't have to worry about trying to book for domestic flights that soon.

    Let me know if there's anyway I can help!

  4. Hmmn..wish I could help…. but I have only traveled within Nigeria and it wasn't even to Abuja…anyways… I think you should book online though…it works….

  5. Flying to Abuja is def your best option. You can book the tickets online and pay @ assigned banks if you are unable to pay online. Aero Contractors and Airk Air are good airlines, worth checking their websites.

  6. Nothing to be scared of! Travelled within Nigeria several times by air especially the Lagos- Abuja route, went with AeroContractors most of the time and I think Arik Air once.

    If you book online (Aero) at least 2 weeks before your date, you would probably get the best deals, buying a few minutes before departure is not the best bet.

    Flying out of Abuja is an option, there should be flights out to Canada from there.

    The airport in abuja is some distance from the city,it usually cost about 3,000naira to hire one, you need to o some bargaining if it is higher but there are airport taxis that usually have a fixed rate. You could get the phone number of a cab in town to take you around town if you have no mode of regular transport. Taxis are best to get around town in depending on where you are going.

    The tips for flying are the same all over methinks!

  7. Girlie, everytime I go to naija, I damn the odds, put my life in God's hands and fly domestically because I don't live in Lagos/Abuja/Portharcourt (international entry points to naija by air). I would suggest you take Arik Air or Aero Contractors. I find the planes for Arik are newer than those on Aero but I found both of them nice (did prefer Arik though). I hear Aero has good deals and you can get fares as good as about $50 CDN one way which isnt bad…you'd have to book way ahead of time. I've never had to buy my own tix cos someone in naija usu takes care of it for me but you can buy/reserve your tix online (safely).

    One advice is that you should MAKE SURE YOUR LUGGAGE GETS ON YOUR PLANE. They give you tags and you can check to ensure this just before you board. You also climb stairs onto the plane, which I like LOL. In my experience, flying in naija has been like flying anywhere else…there has never been drama for me, THANKFULLY! Also, you may get a 'celeb' pilot aka Omotolas hubby (I did once and was so excited LOL). Another thing, the luggage allowance is pretty low and you may have to pay excess so budget accordingly. I hope this helps, if you need more info, you've got my email. :)

  8. Forgot to include this, I would suggest flying into Abuja and then to Lagos later on. I know KLM and BA go to Abuja. Only thing is that if flying from Canada, you'd have to spend a night in London if taking BA. I did this, didn't really like the fact that the journey took 2 days but I got to Abj at about 5:00AM so there were no security concerns compared to arriving at night. Flight centre provides fares to Abj.

  9. I wish I could help but I really don´t have a clue as well …Safe flying …It seems someone is about to go on a vacation.

  10. I would say fly directly to Abuja, store luggage and then fly to Lagos. the only thing with that is I think flights to Abuja are more expoensive. I guess it depends on how much the price difference is.

    As for driving FORGET it. That is my opinion. If you want to live take a flight. I did a ten hour drive from Lagos to Owerri and I was filled with FEAR the whole time. It was nerve wracking.

    I say fly with KLM or BA. LOL Ive actually only flown with Virgin Nigeria and Virgin but I don't know if you can get a Virgin flight from Canada.

    As for booking online. Yes I'd recommend it. Its the only way I know.

    As for flying within the country, pack as much as you can in your handluggage. I say this because my luggage got lost before I even got on the plane the last time. they were not even making an attempt to find it. Luckily I had someone find it for me!

    Anything else hit me up. I've only been twice but I have enough stories to last a lifetime, from hanging outside police cells for hours after my friends got locked up, to hanging in hospitals trying to get them to take on a "police case" It has all happened!

  11. If you are coming to Nigeria, you can book your flight with virgin atlantic on my blog if it's applicable, that way some hungry child get to eat, the banners are there and i bet the flights are cheaper when u book them from my blog.

    I believe it's beta if you come down to lagos, keep your luggages safe and take a flight to Abuja from Lagos but if your luggage is lite then it's beta you do ABJ straight up. your best options are Aero and Arik within Naija.. u can book weeks ahead (2-3wks) if you are sure you will be in town by the chosen date, that way the tickets are cheaper and it can get as low as 7500 naira i.e Abuja to lagos or vice versa. You can check the rates here online
    http://www.arikair.com/

    arik's promo are not as cheap as that of aero, you will find the details online

    http://www.acn.aero/cgi-bin/airkiosk/I7/181002i?A

    or
    http://www.flyaero.com

    If you want all of this done within Naija before hand, beep me directly and i will see what i can do

  12. Mehn I fear to fly in Nigeria o, am sorry but that place does not inspire the greatest confidence lol

  13. The best airlines are Virgin, Arik, Aero and Dana. Not necessarily in that order, cos u can actually rate them using different parameters.

    When u r considering cost then u can fly Aero then Dana too can be cheap. You can get flights for as low as N3,000-6000 if u book very early with Aero but with Dana u can still fly for like 9,000 while the big boys will fly for 16,000 or more. for economy.

    Booking and paying online is another issue. I thinks Aero still has the best booking and payment platform. you can book online and pay online or pay cash in the bank. But for dana. you must pay online and ur booking expires an hour after booking without payment

    Other tips: Food on Aero is not free. you have to pay for it. book early, pay early, check-in early so u get your luggage checked too. lastly if ure not sure of something pls ask?

    I hope this helps someone.

  14. Lol @ the vision of you kissing d ground! Other passengers will be wondering!lol!!!

    Aero gives great deals when you book ahead online.

  15. Had seen some twitter msg about GNG kissing the ground – now I understand.

    Amazing post, on my way to work this morning my friend and I had a conversation which bordered on flying and how she is so scared of flying – and I just didnt get it. Why? How? :) Some of us are born different o!

    Dont mind me, I have not always been this bold. Enough advise about travelling within Nigeria has been given so I wont add any more.

    And do find out, Is Ondo really nearer Lagos? Geographically I know it is but road-wise…methinks the roads are better coming from Abuja than Lagos but haven said that the last time I went that way was like 4 years ago….

  16. Thank you all for your comments. You have not only helped me but others who had the same question. I will have to see if I can make this excellent information available in some way.

    I have responded to all commenters by email so check your spam folder if you don't see my reply!

  17. Well, it looks to me that you have gotten great replies already!

    I fly between the Abuja-Lagos route a bit and i go by Aero most times. Dana air seems to be ok too. I fly aero because they give good rates and they're consistent. They're mostly on time too.

    As per luggage, if it's possible, pls stash your luggage in lagos before you head to abuja. If you find a direct flight from Canada though, getting to abuja first won't be a bad idea!

  18. Aero offers the cheapest rate when you book online like two weeks before but not sure of their services.

    Flew IRS to Abuja and preferred to Nigerian Eagle abi is it Virgin Nigeria on my way back.

  19. hi, i am going into abuja first with three pieces of luggage. Does anyone know a cheap way of sending the lugagge to lagos?

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