Date: 17 October, 2023
Route: Lagos – Accra
Flight number: QI0600
Equipment: Bombardier CRJ-900
Scheduled departure time: 7:00am
Actual departure time: 7:55am
Scheduled arrival time: 7:00am local time
Actual arrival time: 7:35am local time
Flight time: 40 minutes
This wasn’t just another flight. It was Ibom Air’s inaugural flight from Lagos to Accra. It was the airline’s first of seven planned regional routes to seven African countries. And I was privileged to be on board.
From my previous experiences, Ibom Air has an excellent on-time performance, it keeps to time. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. So, I checked in online the previous day and selected my seat in advance. Ibom Air opens online check-in platform 24 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure time.
I arrived at the departure hall of the new Terminal 2 of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport at about 6:20am, and headed to Ibom Air’s check-in counters. There was no crowd at the counter as most passengers had already checked in. This was the first sign that Ibom Air was set to replicate its signature on-time performance on this brand-new route.
Cheerful and high-spirited members of Ibom Air’s staff were all over the place. They were all ready to help and wore welcoming smiles. Check in was fast and seamless; it took only a couple of minutes. And with check in done and boarding pass issued, I made my way to security for pre-boarding checks.
Boarding and Departure
Pre-boarding formalities began at 6:45am while the actual boarding commenced at 7:10am. We were bussed to the waiting aircraft stationed at a remote stand. Bold and reassuring smiles from the Flight Attendants welcomed us on board. All three Flights Attendants were friendly, professional, and seemed to be well experienced on the job.
Boarding was well coordinated and took less than 30 minutes to complete. And with the aircraft’s door armed and cross-checked, we pushed back at 7:36am and began our long taxi to runway 18L/36R. In case you’re wondering, Runway 18R/36L was shut down over 6 months ago for repairs. So, at the moment, all departing and arriving traffic use Runway 18L/36R.
Shortly after lining up on the runway, the aircraft’s General Electric CF34-8C5 turbofan engines revved up to full power, and the CRJ-900 rattled down the runway and took off at exactly 7:55am. The delay in departure was due to immigration and inspection formalities as well as weather factor. It was a rainy early morning in Lagos.
Following takeoff, we made a right turn and headed over to Benin Republic and Togo before entering the Ghanaian airspace. Takeoff roll was lovely, lift off was at a comfortable angle and climb out was scenic, although there was little weather. We cruised at 26,000 feet.
The Aircraft and the Seat
Flight QI0600 was operated by 5N-BXP - a relatively young Bombardier CRJ-900 aircraft. This particular aircraft is only 9 years old; it was delivered to Ibom Air in May 2020. It is configured with 90 seats in an all-economy class layout.
As I stepped on board, the aircraft cabin appeared very clean, and smacked of freshness, My first impressions were of comfort, elegance, and luxury, just exactly what they were a few years ago when I took my very first flight with Ibom Air. My seat was 13D – a window seat – which I had deliberately selected during online check-in to help me put my avgeek tendencies to good use.
After locating my seat, I quickly settled in, fastened my seat belt, and got ready to fly. The legroom was so generous that I could cross my legs without constraints. And to make good things even better, the seats were made of leather, taking seat comfort to another level.
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 flight was commanded by Captain Violet Enahoro, one of the female captains at Ibom Air. For me, this was a pleasant surprise. The cabin was manned by three Flight Attendants who discharged their duties with a remarkable sense of responsibility and professionalism.
From pushback in Lagos to touchdown in Accra, both cockpit and cabin crews handled the flight very professionally. Although there was weather for the better part of climb out and cruise, they made sure there were no moments of undue anxiety. We were in good hands.
After we levelled off and the captain turned off the fasten your seat belt sign, the cabin crew commenced the on-board refreshment service. Don’t get it twisted. First, it was bottled water. And then came the ‘Snack Packs’ which contained fruit juice, a piece of confectionery, bottled water, and candies.
Although the in-flight meal service wasn’t an elaborate tea-or-coffee English breakfast service (time would not have permitted that), it was good enough to satisfy our excited palates and fill our rumbling stomachs. But most importantly, the service was delivered with professionalism, smiles, and goodwill.
Being only a 40-minute flight, our cruise time was short. So, not long after in-flight meal service, we commenced our initial descent into Accra. And following a scenic final approach, we touched down on runway 21 of the Kotoka International Airport, Accra at 7:35am local time (Ghana is one hour behind Nigeria).
While we cruised, the captain had, during her in-flight briefing, told us that the weather in Accra was misty with low visibility. However, by the time we aligned with the runway, the weather had improved greatly, making way for a picturesque final approach and a smooth landing.
And with that, Ibom Air officially touched down in Accra for the first time. What followed was pomp, pageantry, and an impressive display of ceremonial grandeur.
The Pidgin/Vernacular Thing!
With a few other Nigerian airlines, Ibom Air is bringing a new perspective to flying, especially with respect to safety and passenger experience. On my very first flight with Ibom Air a few years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to hear in-flight announcements in the airline’s native Ibibio language. I absolutely loved it. I’ve since been enjoying more of this innovation on subsequent flights with Ibom Air.
In addition to inadvertently entertaining passengers, (occasionally) making in-flight announcements in pidgin and vernacular ensures that the points are driven home, without ambiguity. On this flight though, it came with a little twist. As we taxied to the terminal, the in-flight announcement was made in Pidgin right after it had been rendered in English, of course.
As with my previous flights with Ibom Air, most of my expectations were met, and some of them even exceeded. You can be sure that I’ll definitely fly with Ibom Air again on the Lagos-Accra route.
Lagos-Accra route is the most popular and the most important air route in West Africa. Ibom Air is bringing something new and exciting to it. Among other advantages, Ibom Air’s schedules allow you to leave Lagos or Accra in the morning and return to Lagos or Accra in the evening of the same day. Who says you can’t eat amala in the morning and eat waakye in the evening?
If you’re looking for a safe, convenient, and cost-effective way of flying between Lagos and Accra, Ibom Air is your best option. With Ibom Air, you get on-time departures, schedule reliability, pocket-friendly fares, and professional crew. What else can you ask for? Book your flight now on www.ibomair.com.
Check in: 95%
In-flight service: 90%
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 WhatsApp +23408178379876 or via email on email@example.com.