FLIGHT REVIEW: Ibom Air: Lagos - Enugu
Date: 24 October, 2021
Route: Lagos - Enugu
Flight number: QI0602
Scheduled time of departure: 16:15
Actual time of departure: 16:30
Scheduled time of arrival: 17:15
Actual time of arrival: 17:18
Flight time: 45 minutes
This was my very first flight with Ibom Air, and I didn't want to leave anything to chance. I arrived the departure hall of the Murtala Mohammed Airport Two Lagos by 2:40pm (almost two hours before scheduled departure time), and made my way to Ibom Air's check-in counters. A cheerful and vivacious Ibom Air's staff walked up to me and greeted me with a welcoming demeanor.
Although I had checked in online, the Ibom Air lady requested that I join the queue. And I did. The charismatic young lady possessed a kind of demeanor that seemed to suggest that she understood and loved her job. She was noticeably happy; her attitude was very warm, and she was easy to relate with. And that was the first tangible sign that I was in good hands.
After about 25 minutes on the queue, I finally received my boarding pass and checked in my luggage. And after 'clearing' my luggage (every passenger that checked in luggage was required to 'clear' it with the porters, but I'm not sure why that was necessary), I made my way to security for pre-boarding formalities.
Boarding and Departure
At about 3:45pm, a young man walked up to us in the departure hall, and announced that boarding had started. We had been waiting to hear the usual boarding announcement over the public address system, but that wasn't the case. Apparently, the public address system at the airport wasn't functioning well. Even the boarding agents at the boarding gate didn't hear the boarding announcement. I was to learn that later from the boarding agents themselves.
We were bussed to the waiting aircraft, and Femi was the Flight Attendant who welcomed us onboard. He was friendly, professional, and seemed to be an old hand. Boarding was seamless and took a little less than 40 minutes. It had to take that long because of the 'instalment' transfer of passengers from the terminal to the aircraft. Besides, it was a full flight. And with the aircraft's doors armed and cross-checked, we pushed back at 4:22pm and began our taxi to runway 18L.
After lining up on the runway, the aircraft's CF34-8C5 turbofan engines revved up to full power, and the CRJ-900 rattled down the runway and took off at exactly 4:30pm. We made a north-westerly departure, and then headed to Enugu as the earth below us shrank away. The takeoff roll was lovely, the liftoff was at a comfortable angle and the climb to cruising altitude was breathtaking.
The Crew and the Flight
Perhaps, the most interesting thing about the flight was that it was flown by two Captains. When the Flight Attendant mentioned their names before takeoff, I had thought he was mistaking. But after we landed, I asked him to confirm, and it turned out that he had been right. Yes, our flight was commanded by Captain Odunsi, who was assisted by Captain Aminu. The cabin was manned by Femi and Seye who discharged their duties with a remarkable sense of responsibility.
From pushback to touchdown, the crew handled the flight very professionally, and there was no single moment of anxiety and turbulence. My only disappointment, however, was that the cockpit crew didn't talk much to us. Apart from announcing the estimated time of arrival, just before we commenced our initial descent, the cockpit duo kept to themselves. They 'starved' the passengers of their voices, especially those of us that had expected and even longed to hear them. Yes, I love hearing those sonorous voices from the cockpit. Anyway, the flight was a pleasure ride, regardless.
The Aircraft and the Seat
Flight QI0602 was operated by a CRJ-900LR aircraft with registration number 5N-BWK. This particular aircraft was delivered to Ibom Air in 2019. It is configured with 90 seats in an all-economy class layout. The aircraft cabin was very clean, and smacked of freshness as I stepped onboard. And my first impressions were those of comfort, elegance, and luxury. My seat was 12D - a window seat - which I had deliberately selected during online check-in to help me put my avgeek skills to good use.
With a 4 abreast configuration in a 2-2 layout, the CRJ-900 is one of the most comfortable narrow body aircraft in the skies today. I didn't get to measure the seat dimensions, but the aircraft offered impressive seat width and generous leg room, better than the industry standard. The legroom was so generous that I could cross my legs in-flight without space constraints. And to make good things even better, the seats were made of leather, taking seat comfort to another level.
Was there an onboard refreshment service? I would say NO. About 5 minutes after takeoff, bottled water was served. But, ‘Snack Bags’ were distributed to passengers as they exited the aircraft after landing. My bag had a small pack of fruit juice, a piece of croissant (or something that looked like it), and a small bottle of table water. This has come to be Ibom Air's adaptation of onboard refreshment. So, on this flight, just like on other Ibom Air's flights, there was no real in-flight refreshment service. However, there was something onboard that was even more refreshing than juice and croissant. Read on!
Music: A Fresh New Perspective
If you love classical music (like me), that's another reason to fly Ibom Air. Throughout the boarding period and during cruise (except during announcements), the crew treated our listening ears to a selection of soothing symphonies and relaxing concertos. The rhythmic movements of the songs synchronized with the boarding vibes and the aircraft's velocity, even as it cruised at an altitude of 29,000 feet above sea level, and at a subsonic speed of 830km/hr.
As the songs played along, I experienced a cosmic motion of the mind and an extraterrestrial movement of the soul. The music made the 45-minute flight look like it didn't last for more than a few minutes. I'm not sure about the rest of the passengers, but I enjoyed the music, every bit of it. In fact, I wished the flight lasted a little longer.
For Nigerian domestic passengers, the music thing on Ibom Air's flights is a fresh new perspective. It's coming at a time when very many Nigerians are looking for a way of escape from the mental stress which has come to domicile within and among them. It's coming at a time when flying has become a source of stress. And for me, this music concept is a very welcomed concept.
Following a scenic descent and final approach, we touched down on runway 08 of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu at 5:18pm - just 3 minutes behind schedule. The landing was as smooth as silk; it was, in fact, a butter landing. Sadly, I didn't get the chance to chat with the cockpit crew as they were busy with post flight checks, dotting their i's and crossing their t's.
As mentioned at the very beginning, this was my first flight with Ibom Air. And most of my expectations were met and even exceeded, especially with respect to punctuality, crew and the actual flight. Speaking in relative terms, the flight was everything I had expected, it surpassed the average domestic flight in Nigeria. And I'll definitely fly with Ibom Air again.
Check in: 85%
In-flight service: 80%
Seat comfort: 95%
Chidozie Uzoezie is an Aviation Analyst, Content Creator, In-flight Magazine Contributor, and Newspaper Columnist. He’s the CEO of The Afritraveller and the founder of the African Aviation Group (on Facebook). He can be reached on +234(0)8063724208 or via email on email@example.com