10 things you must never do in a Nigerian airport

 Nigerians are some of the prolific travelers in the world, they can go anywhere at any time, am sure in every flight there must be a Nigerian, even to the remotest places on earth. A visit to the Lagos international airport early mornings and late at nights shows different passengers either arriving or taking off to different destinations.Only few air travelers are used to the situations and rules in Nigerian airports, many  frequent travelers are yet to still understand while the first timers are complete novices.   So If you are Looking forward to a pleasant air journey, seeking for travel information or  making a booking . This list informs on 10 things an air traveler should never consider doing at any airport in Nigeria.
A view of Lagos international airport at night
A view of Lagos international airport at night
Image credit: Navaah photography

1. Patronize local touts, illegal taxi drivers or currency changers: This is really the worse of the lot, be careful, there are signs everywhere in most local and international airports in Nigeria advising passengers never to patronize unauthorized individuals, travel agents or cab operators looking to make easy money. Many of them are fraudsters , if anything happens, the airport officials may not be able to help you or trace the offenders.  If you need help, go to any of the customer service  or information desk  to make your inquiries, whenever any one walks up to you , insist on checking out his or her identity card. Id card must be placed at eye level, ensure you take in all details, name, organisation he is working for, if you are not convinced, seek for an alternate officer . Visit shops within the airport vicinity only, any other business done outside will be at your own risk. Except you are sure of the company or individuals you are dealing with. You can also check online for certified airport and travel vendors such as hotel bookers, cab hire services, escort agencies, online malls,travel agents.

2. Treat your passport and traveling documents with indifference: Asking cleaners and other unofficial workers for help with official documents is like asking for trouble. Cleaners are not immigration officials. While you can ask for help for directions,Never give your passport to them. Yellow cards are to be given by port health authorities, bookings done by airline offices,  checking food for germs is carried out by quarantine officials. So Seek for information from the right places and right people. Treat your passport and boarding pass as tickets to paradise, keep them handy, not locked up in a suitcase that will take you hours to search for or in places where them can be easily misplaced. Have your traveling documents properly signed and stamped. Passport, health cards, insurance papers, flying tickets,itinerary details.

3. Leave a bag unattended or  Carry excess luggage:: Recent terror attacks targeted at air passengers has created a more alert airport security system. Never leave your luggage unattended or collect luggage from strangers. Bombs, illegal drugs, contraband items can be easily put in  unnoticed, when caught, you will only have yourself to blame. After you have packed your bags, if you must collect any other luggage, check all items through carefully, be vigilant, open all the inner zips, pockets and repack your bags by your self.
 Dont leave yourself to the mercy of others. Please stick to the stipulated bag weight (in kg or pounds), if an airline says two bags of 25kg each, let it be 2 bags only. It is better to carry an under weight bag than an overweight luggage. Asides the fact that you need to lug and struggle with overweight suitcases, additional costs are charged on each kg above the prescribed weight. So ask yourself, is the cost worth it? Major culprits are food  and clothing items. Most of the items you think are important  are not really necessary , they can be found in the destination you are going to and at a cheaper price . If they are so important to you, then pack and cargo them. Saves you money.
Less bags means you can easily move around with the bags, trace and recover them if lost or misplaced.Many times, passengers with excess luggage are forced to leave them behind, if they have no relatives to assist in taking them back home, the spoils usually go to cleaners and airport workers.

4. Bribe or influence an official: Inasmuch as you desperate to leave Nigerian shores or make a fast escape home to your loved ones, bribing your way of that situation is not the right thing to do. Play by the rules, pay the correct duties, fees,and you have nothing to be afraid of, have your necessary traveling papers, never carry contraband or counterfeit items, go through legal agents, never engage in money laundering or any other illegal activity. There are numbers placed in strategic places in the airport, to report any form of bribery and extortion from airport officials. Giving them money out of the goodness of your heart  s no sin, but it must not be a forced action . It is illegal to tempt officials with money.

5. Park in undesignated areas: The airport authority is a profit making agency and one of its methods in making money is towing fees obtained from illegal parked vehicles. Never fall a victim. Park in only appointed car parks, not on the road, not on the curbs, not in front of apartments. Just because other vehicles are there doesn't mean you can be there too. Be sure to ask, paying a N200 parking fee will save you time and money . Once a vehicle is  towed for illegal parking, you will be sure to pay stipulated fines of nothing less than N10,000 and the vehicle may not be released to you immediately. Plea Stories or claim of ignorance will not save you. Sharing  this right information about airport rules with you is to help avoid unnecessary confrontations or incurring unbudgeted for expenses.

6. Pick unnecessary quarrels: Not everyone at the airport is a traveler, even if they are, you are not going to the same destination or traveling at the same time. So mind your business and focus on what you are there for. Be considerate of others. Dont jump queues, talk loudly on phones, play loud music, fight with co passengers, pass unsolicited for comments on airport workers. Most airport workers are trying to do their jobs, so be respectful of that, never try to be funny, speak lewd remarks to the checking officers or baggage clearance officers, be obnoxious or disrespectful to others.Do not Try to be funny, say tasteless  jokes,start a rebellious or insightful conversant, stir up trouble or protest.  Acting up will be seen as a suspicious activity and you can get arrested and  taken in till security officers are convinced you mean no harm. But then, you might have missed your flight.

7. Argue with security personnel: Never raise your voices when talking with security officers (Faan security, civil defense, soldiers, policemen, immigration, customs). Get your point across as politely as you can, if you are unsatisfied with their response or manner of approach. Seek audience with an higher rank official or head of security at that particular time. Raised voices, arguments signifies a form of regression and will be treated as such. You don't want to end up in Tango city.

8. Disregard rules: An airport is a public place, Do not smoke, get drunk or walk around nude. Follow the signs, if you do not understand the language or need an interpreter, ask for help at the information desk. Liquids, gels, weapons are not allowed in carry ons,handheld bags to be carried into the plane. Be sure to remove them and have them checked in before you proceed to the boarding gate. Allow for normal security procedures like passing through scanners, having your bags checked by customs officials.

9. Bring the whole clan: Nigerians are fond of going to the airports with numbers of relatives, friends, well wishers and family members who wish to see off their loved one(s). Please say your goodbyes at home or at the car park. There is no need to bring along 50 other people into the airport premises when only one or two individuals are traveling, it constitutes a security nuisance.

10. Miss your flights: Checking time is 12:00pm, boarding ends at 2pm, planes departs 2:30pm, you get in 2:20pm, whose fault? Dont blame the traffic, mixed up schedules, delayed flights, they are part of the travel experience. So plan  ahead and prepare for such happenings. I have seen passengers sleep off, go for food, see off relatives and missed their flights. Rescheduling flights, if you are lucky to see another, costs extra money and days. What is the point of you coming to the airport when you plan on missing the flight?  There can be delays, traffic hold ups, be sure to call the airlines or booking agents to confirm flight schedules. Be at the airport early, check in early especially for first time passengers, so nothing is missed. Stay around or close to  the airport in case of  a rescheduled flight so you don't miss it.

Have a wonderful traveling experience!