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Friday, April 11, 2008

Boycott BA 

From Nigeria Village Square

British Airways removes 136 Nigerians from Flight
On the 27th of March 2008 at about 12:30pm, I boarded the British Airways flight BA75 and I went straight to seat 53C.

On getting to my seat, there were noises from an individual being forcibly restrained but who was not visible because some police officers and some plain clothes people held him down. The noise continued for more than 20 minutes and I was concerned because the individual was screaming in agony and shouting in pidgin English “I go die” meaning, I will die. I pleaded with the officers not to kill him and my exact words were “please don’t kill him”.
The British Airways staff said that the officers were doing their jobs and that nothing was going to happen. The noise became louder and other passengers started getting concerned and were complaining especially about their safety. The situation continued for another 15 minutes after I got on.

Eventually, a member of the cabin crew announced that the passenger was going to be removed and the passenger was removed from the plane and we all thought that was the end of the situation.
Five minutes later, two members of the cabin crew arrived with about 4 police officers and told me to get off the plane. I asked what the matter was and they said that I was not going to travel with the airline because the cabin crew thought I had been disruptive by questioning the noise being caused by the person that was removed. I pleaded with them that I was going for my brother’s wedding and that I had all his stuff with me.

I was dragged out of the plane as if I was resisting arrest. As we got to the corridor that linked the plane with the terminal building, I was slammed against the wall and made to sit on the floor. I was still pleading with them telling them that they had completely misunderstood me and that I was only complaining about the situation regarding the disturbances caused by the deportee they were trying to restrain and subdue. I was on the floor for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Another passenger was brought to the corridor as well and he was also pleading with the officers.
I was later put in the back of the police van at about 1:50pm and I was locked up there for about an hour or more still handcuffed. I was formally arrested approximately 2:30pm and my rights were read to me. Before the arrest in the van, I managed to reach for my pocket and brought out my mobile phone. I made some phone calls to my wife, sister and a friend while the low battery sign was on because I was all alone and still handcuffed.

I was later driven to the police station where I was formally checked in. I was in police custody for almost 8 hours and later released on bail after the interview with the duty solicitor and the detectives. I had £473.00 on me which was seized as well as £90.00 sent to my mother in-law from my sister in-law and £1,050.00 given to me by my cousin who is a doctor for the upkeep of his parents in Nigeria. All the money together was £1,613.00.

I was told that I would appear in a magistrate court to prove the money was not meant for crime or proceeds of crime. The officer told me that they will like to see traceability and that I needed my payslips and bank account detailing my payments and withdrawals as well as my cousin’s payments and withdrawals.
I was released but without the money. I made my way to terminal 4 and arrived there at about 12:30am but the British Airways kiosks were closed. I was directed to the staff room and told them that I wanted to rebook my trip to Lagos. A lady told me to give her my ticket and she stated that British Airways has banned me from travelling with them indefinitely and that only the managers can use their discretions because I was a ‘disruptive passenger’.
I requested for my 2 piece luggage and she told me that the section will be opened later at about 5:30am and I will be escorted in to collect them. I slept on the chair and waited till about 5:30am and attempted to rebook my ticket but was told that British Airways refused to take me. I decided to go and pick up my stuff and I was told that my luggage were missing. I was handed a form with reference number LONBA90924.

At this point, I became totally stranded because I could not leave without my luggage because it contained my brother’s wedding suit, shirts and accessories.
I was on the phone with my wife and she wanted to book an alternative flight that departs at 10:15am so that I could make it for the wedding. This was not possible because British Airways refused to disclose where my luggages were and did not remove my luggage from the flight when they called the police to arrest me.

On Monday 31st of March, I appeared at the Magistrate court but was told that a decision was made about the £1,613.00 that was seized from me. The police had been granted a further 90 days to hold on to the money pending their investigation. I was given the officer’s details . He requested 12 months bank statements and 6 months payslip to prove that the £473.00 that belongs to me was not proceeds of crime and also requested that the £1,050.00 that was given to me by my cousin for his parents should also be traced to my cousin’s 12 months bank statement and 6 months payslip. DC Webster has promised to write me detailing these requests.

Still on Monday 31st of March 4 days after I was taken off the plane, I made extra efforts to find out the whereabouts of my 2 piece luggage (LONBA90924), because they have not been sent to my address as promised by calling the lost baggage section at 13:44hrs and spoke to a man called Neil who said that, it is difficult for them to trace my bags and that there is a strong possibility that they might be in Lagos. He suggested that I should call back in 24 hours.
Eventually, one week and one day later, my bags were brought to me at home. One was badly damaged and the other was intact. British Airways delibrately made sure I missed the wedding because if they were kicking me off their flight, they would have removed my bags from the flight. They were all there when the police officers made me to sit on the floor and heard me pleading to allow me fly for my brother's wedding. I could have made either KLM or Virgin Nigeria the following Friday morning.

I will not want to believe that the authorities involved in the situation deliberately or cleverly punished me unnecessarily out of frustration for not being able to restrain or subdue a deportee or that I as a fee paying passenger was accused of affray with violence when I was voicing my concerns about the disturbances caused by the deportees. I never mentioned any abusive or swear words neither was I physically threatening anyone.

My luggage mysteriously was lost and I have been banned on all British Airways flights without a chance to say my part of the story to redeem myself. 135 passengers were asked to leave the flight because they expressed displeasure regarding the disturbances caused by the deportees and the officers trying to restrain him. My ticket was even refused to be endorsed by BA to enable me to fly with another airline. I need full compensation of my loss and also a letter of apology from British Airways.

Regards

Ayodeji Omotade
----------------------------------------
News Report as reported by The Mirror
The Petition - Nigerians boycott British Airways
My Previous Experience with BA - Complaints about foreign airlines flying to Nigeria

Labels: ,


posted by ijebuman  # 12:09 pm
Comments:
I am not particularly bothered about the petition, but it's the action.

A guy who was drunk and abusive was better treated and for us though, we must be able to have an affirmative action, not just talking and petitioning, but actually not flying with BA. They already charge too much for the trip to Lagos, yet they throw away courtesy when it comes to the treatment of their Lagos bound passengers.

Please pass the message on and lets not take any crap from BA or any other groups. We are spending our hard earned money. They know we have no unified and cohesive power, hence, they can get away with such
shabby treatment.

If we don't do something, we will continue to live and be treated like second class citizens. Tibet is a small country, but look at the effects those people have on the Olympic games across the world.

Its not about making noise or shouting, its about action.

I sometimes miss the days of student radicalism. Does anyone remember "Ali must go" and all those wonderful student protests, well I suppose we have all grown into bald headed, pot bellied old men with not an ounce of fire in our bellies.

Where is Presky of UI?.
Anyway, we can all crawl back to our PC's and continue to make a living, whilst we and our kids get treated like dirt. So are we going to be Rosa Parks or Uncle Tom?. The answer is in your next action.
 
Get a little bit of revenge on BA - play the Willie Walsh game http://www.globalbagtag.com/index2.cfm
 
Maybe the federal government of Nigeira should complain to BA about the ways it treats its Nigerian passengers. Oh yes just remembered that FGN does not care about its citizens too.
 
If I were in a position of authority I will immediately ban british airways operation in the Nigerian space.The truth here is that one eye for eye no need of any sermon.And until we start to act we will for ever remain the punching bag of nations who understand the psychology of our people towards enjoyment and better life even at the detriment of their personal self respect .Lets all pursue the britons they are our economic woe.
 
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