This was my first time on any Air Peace’s flight, so naturally I didn’t know what to expect. I had mostly used Aerocontractors (and sometimes Arik Air) for my domestic runs. The unfortunate exit of Aero provided the perfect reason and the excuse for me to fly Air Peace from Enugu to Lagos. Well, read on to know if my expectations were or were not met or even exceeded.
The economy class cabin of the Boeing 737-500SP
DATE: 29th October, 2016
SCHEDULED DEPARTURE: 15:10
ACTUAL DEPARTURE: 15:22
EQUIPMENT: Boeing 737-500SP
I arrived the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu at 2pm for a 3:10pm flight. Although I had already checked in online for my flight, I wanted to arrive early enough so I would have time to look around. Generously, Air Peace allows their passengers to check in online from 48 hours to 2 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure time. (Some airlines allow check-in from 24 hours before the flight).
Since I had no luggage to check in, I just got the FAAN sticker from the check-in counter and then headed straight to security.
At about 2:40pm, passengers started queuing up at the boarding gate without any boarding announcement over the airport public address system; at least I didn’t hear any. (This appears to be normal at Nigerian Airports). I didn’t notice any particular order, both business and economy class passengers boarded at the same time.
'Patrick', Arik Air's Bombardier CRJ900 passes our aircraft as it taxes to the Runway for takeoff
Boarding was pretty quick and as soon as the cabin crew secured the cabin for takeoff, we pushed back at 3:12pm.
The equipment was a Boeing 737-500SP (Special Performance) with registration number 5N-BRN nicknamed “Ugochukwu” after the airline chairman’s third son and fourth child.
I love the fact that Air Peace gives their aircraft human names, it makes you connect with the aircraft in a special way. The ex Aerolineas Argentina Boeing 737-500SP was fitted with winglets and engine trend monitoring infrastructure.
Although, the aircraft itself was technically sound, the interior could definitely use some makeover. For instance, some of the inscriptions in the cabin like the ‘fasten your seat belt’ and ‘no smoking’ signs were worn out and my seat pocket in particular, had slacked.
“Is Captain Frank Okolo in the cockpit”? I asked one of the cabin crew members as soon as I stepped into the aircraft. “No, but we have someone even more awesome in the cockpit”, she said with a priceless smile on her face. And she was very right. (This is not an attempt to compare two great Captains). The flight crew led by Captain D J Ruby, was extremely friendly and professional both on ground and in flight. In fact, I have never met a happier and a friendlier flight crew.
After about 10 minutes of taxing to the runway, we took off at about 3:22pm, departing towards north east and then made left to Benin and then headed to Lagos. The takeoff roll was lovely (I wish it lasted longer), the lift off was at a great angle and then the banking was aerodynamically adventurous.
Final approach to Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos
The Captain’s briefings were on point just like a lady’s skirt – short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover the subject matter. The flight was generally uneventful and remains one of the smoothest I have ever had.
Air Peace’s Boeing 737-500SP is configured to carry a total of 122 passengers across two classes. My seat was 13F (window seat) in the economy cabin. 13F has become my favorite seat on any Boeing 737 flight because it gives me the opportunity to observe the aircraft’s aerodynamics – the wings, the flaps, the ailerons, the spoilers, the winglets etc.
I didn’t measure the seat width and the seat pitch, but the leg room was generous enough to allow me cross my legs.
Pioneered by Aeroconractors Airline (for whatever reason), most Nigerian airlines now don’t really make out time to do onboard meal services, they just distribute what I call ‘Snack Pack’ to passengers, and that was what we got on Air Peace.
My snack pack contained 180mls of Happy Hour fruit juice, short cake biscuit, menthol candy and a piece of snack I couldn’t identify. The snack was particularly very tasty though.
We touched down at Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos on schedule at 4:10pm and taxied to the General Aviation Terminal (GAT). The landing was as smooth as silk.
Spoilers deployed on touch down on runway 18L of Lagos airport
I waited till every other passenger had disembarked so I would have time to chat with the crew and the wait was worth it.
CONCLUSION: With respect to punctuality, crew and the flight, my expectations were exceeded. But every other thing was typical of a Nigerian domestic flight including onboard services especially the refreshment.
SUMMARY AND VERDICT
THE AIRCRAFT: 70%
THE CREW: 96%
THE FLIGHT: 90%
THE SEAT: 75%
ONBOARD REFRESHMENT: 60%