Flight to Lagos


A KLM flight to Nigeria begins at the baggage weighing scale at Departure Hall 2. Several passengers drop their luggage on the scale, take note of the weight, nod, and walk away with sure steps. She is surprised that some passengers even weigh their hand luggage.

“What for?” she wonders aloud.

She lugs her first suitcase on the scale. A frown appears. She lugs the second and her frown deepens.

The night before, she had weighed herself, then carried each suitcase and reweighed herself. Then she had repacked and reweighed, repeating this process a few more times, until each suitcase weighed just under 23kg. She had expected a difference between the weight of the suitcases at home and at the airport. But 33kg and 29kg?

She would whistle if she knew how. Instead, she moves her suitcases to the repacking section at the corner and then whips out a folded Ghana bag from her cream handbag. She shakes it lose with one big motion so that the Ghana bag quickly assumes its rectangular shape. She hisses as she kneels on the floor and makes deft work of 16kg, filling up the Ghana bag.

In all her time at Schiphol Airport, she had only ever seen Africans ‘sweating’ at the repacking corner. The problem of course was that expectations—shoes, bags, clothing, and electronics, for family and extended family—carried a lot of weight.

After paying 200 Euros to check in an extra bag, she clears security and passport control before heading for Gate F. At the departure lounge, conversation rises and falls in English, Pidgin, Bini, Yoruba, and Igbo. She could have been at the International Airport in Lagos. Here, she finds comrades with two pieces of cabin luggage, a regular one and another bag which should not qualify as an accessory. In addition, they each have a true accessory, a handbag, a briefcase, a backpack, or something similar.

The cabin crew greet passengers as they stream into the aircraft. No one jostles for room in the overhead baggage compartments. An easy cooperation reigns among passengers as cries of, “don’t worry, there’s space here,” ring out.

Many passengers are already seated and adjusting themselves for the flight, when Mr. and Mrs. X show up. An air hostess reads their boarding passes.

“20E, this way madam, on the left. 16A, sir on the right.”

Mr. and Mrs. X walk down the aisle, stow their hand luggage, and take their places in 20E and 20F. Not long after, the passenger who had been sitting in 20F returns from the toilet.

“Madam, my seat please.”

A small quarrel ensues and an air hostess comes to arbitrate. When she confirms that Mr. X should sit at 16A, chaos occurs.

“You want to separate me from my husband? It is not possible. How can you separate me from my husband?”

“Madam, but your boarding pass—”

“Did you not hear? You cannot separate me from my husband!”

Mr. X coughs, the only sound to escape his lips. The air hostess persuades Mrs. X to vacate the seat. Mr. X accompanies Mrs. X as she follows the air hostess’ lead, dragging their cabin luggage behind him.

Atink you see this people o? They want to separate me from my husband!”

It is a battle the air hostess should win. The boarding pass says so. But her face is red, every blond hair brushed into place. Her blue suit is devoid of creases, and her voice is no match for Mrs. X’s rising decibel.

The wrangle is drawing some interest, but no mediators. Perhaps it is more expedient to use the time before take-off for selfies and goodbyes. Yes, most passengers are lost in their cell phones and tablets.

The air hostess consults with her colleagues and then they whisper to a few passengers. Before long, they escort Mr. and Mrs. X to a row of seats where they can sit side by side.

Mrs. X declares her victory for all to hear. “Ehen, what God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Ah ah.”

Take off to Lagos begins after this display of survival of the loudest.

She remembers the extra 16kg and 200 Euros and shakes her head. She should have shouted, “You cannot separate me from my luggage!”


©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

48 thoughts on “Flight to Lagos

  1. I have been a fan of your writing for awhile- but I must say your powers are growing, Timi 🙂 As a Filipina-American born in the Philippines, this piece made me nostalgic for my native land. There is a similar untamed state in our culture (and I don’t mean that in a negative) that would make the conversation like the argument between the passengers and the flight attendant par for the course, outcome included. In America, not so much. thanks for making me think of home (we have balikbayan boxes that we fill when going to and from the Philippines- we stuff with as much content as possible and drop onto scales at home to make sure they don’t weigh too much.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah, the similarities in culture; ‘warm’ blood flows in our veins. Immigrant communities tend to retain and pass on their traditions, which is a good thing … I’m happy I took you back to the Philippines.

      Thank you for your very kind words Diahann, they make writing worthwhile.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hahahaha. Hilarious! I never understand why some people (Nigerians) always have some form of belief that things that already have protocols would be changed especially by arguing and raising false alarms and not the other known way – bribes. I am sometimes disappointed and always entertained. It is the small things (joys, laughs and victories) that keep us going.

    this is another one. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Timi,

    I laughed so hard. Some Nigerians count on the strength of their voices to dilute the irrationality of their arguments. The airplane drama always amuses me. 😀

    I wonder if “You cannot separate me from my luggage” would have been as effective, I doubt it. But who knows? Nigerians have such faith. Lol

    Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree. As long as you’re not directly involved and it causes no delays or harm, ‘in-flight’ entertainment can be fun. It’s as if you are in for laughs wherever several Nigerians are gathered.

      Well, KLM might have called security if she tried the you-cannot-separate-me-from-my-luggage drama while checking in. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So, I love that, as Nigerians we’ve all experienced this at some point and cringed in discomfort as if their behavior somehow reflects on the rest of us who are dutifully following the rules…oh wait, their behavior does reflect on the rest of us, hence our own private repacking sections in most international airports!!! For this, among numerous other reasons, I bury my “green passport” deep in my pocket until it’s necessary to show it to the Nigerian immigration official upon arrival. Also, Timi, join the 21st Century, they’re called “Flight Attendants” these days not “Air Hostesses.” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A few ‘bad’ eggs shouldn’t damage the reputation of the rest, but they do. Do we retain a sense of national pride, even those of us in the Diaspora- is that why we cringe in discomfort … ?

      Thanks for the correction. I like living in the 21st Century. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. You cannot separate me from my luggage! Sometimes “bullies” or loud mouthed people get their way. Sometimes they get escorted off planes or out of movies and restaurants, Timi.
    This post made me laugh since my youngest daughter had an exchange program where her small university allowed 20 candidates to attend Chaminaud University in Hawaii. She read about travel and suitcases. She reassured me she had worked 3 jobs to pay for all her extra expenses. Whole at airport with 3 large suitcases she did have to sort through and give me one back. Still paying a lot for her extra bag. On way home at end of semester, she put clothes in a big 3rd class shipping box and donated shoes yo local thrift shop. Smarter: but still young and a bit clueless. I will always be proud of her! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Air freight is rather expensive; shipping stuff is cheaper, but takes longer to arrive. Your daughter it seems learnt her lesson. I saw an advert for suitcases that come with built in scales to weigh the load…

      It’s nice when bullies don’t get their way. The customer is king, the bully shouldn’t be!


  6. …..You cannot separate me from my mouth!! If you share your country with over 180 million people, i tell you, your mouth becomes your most prized possession. The art of negotiation (sometimes with subtle blackmail) is a compulsory skill. This is what i see in this story. Ejoor, what God has joined together, let no hostess come with asunder.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think that for these kinds of flights, you’re entitled to 2 pieces of luggage with maximum weight of 23kg, one piece of hand luggage up to 12kg, and an accessory. An extra piece of luggage up to 23kg would cost anything from 160 – 200 Euros. Ah the world of flying!

      On a lighter note, there can be plenty “in-flight” entertainment, when you’re not the one involved in the drama. XD


  7. Who needs to land at Lagos first to know they’re in Nigeria? You only need to be at Gate F or E at Schipol, or at Heathrow to feel Nigeria.
    I often feel sorry for air hostesses or hosts attached to flights that go to Nigeria.
    I was introduced to the madness On a flight from Schipol to Lagos in 2013.
    An “uncle,” who I had the misfortune of seating next to on the KLM flight, stored a “monitor” in my designated overhead cabin space. The man didn’t care that I paid just about the same in air fare, if not more. He caused such a scene because he was asked to move the item, which he should have checked-in in the first place.
    But uncle had no shame when he collected all the snacks I didn’t want during the flight.
    Always have an open mind when flying back home, then be ready to be entertained and also bury your head in shame.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Lol@ feel sorry for the cabin crew 🙂 Oh dear, what an ‘uncle’ 🙂

      I think KLM is rather generous with cabin luggage. It’s supposed to be one cabin luggage and an accessory, but passengers, like ‘uncle’ abuse this. I’m guilty as well … to a ‘smaller’ degree.

      And yes, invariably, I’m always entertained and have a story to share by the end of the flight.
      Shame? Does that word exist in Naija dictionary? XD

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Funny one. Being loud and obnoxious doesn’t always give us what we want, it might be cute with kids but on grown ups it looks embarrassing. Adults should have a better way of resolving issues unfortunately some people never grow up!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think adults behave this way because they’ve seen that it’s effective in getting what they want in many cases. Perhaps it was stage-managed. Surely they saw the seating arrangement before boarding the flight?

      If only ‘customer service and satisfaction’ did NOT prevent the air hostess from saying, “Grow up and deal!” 🙂


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