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Making connections at LOS - avoid it if you can

Making connections at LOS - avoid it if you can

 
Old Feb 24, 12, 11:49 pm
  #1  
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Making connections at LOS - avoid it if you can

Earlier this week, I flew SA from MPM to JNB to LOS and then connected to CO from LOS-IAH (and then from IAH to SAN). I am writing about my experience to warn others about the hassles they may have to go through to connect at LOS to get onto the CO flight from LOS to IAH. If I have to do this over again, I will avoid connecting at LOS at all costs.

For my recent trip to S Africa and Mozambique, I cashed in some CO miles for a C class ticket to MPM (with a stopover at CPT). I was initially excited that on the return trip, I got seats on the JNB to LOS to IAH connection, since I thought that the long flight from LOS to IAH would be optimal for uninterrupted sleep (as opposed to the SA flight from JNB to IAD that makes a stopover in DKR), and this connection would allow me to get back to SAN by noon time so that I could still go into the office to work in the afternoon.

But after having made this journey earlier this week, I told myself I will never connect through LOS again - if I have the choice. And here is why -

1. For US passport holders, a visa for Nigeria is needed just to transfer through LOS. (I suppose this is only fair since citizens of many countries have to get a transit visa for the US if they are flying from abroad to the US and then connecting to another country)

2. Your luggage may not be transferred automatically at LOS. When I checked in at the SA counter at MPM for my flights, the SA agent tagged my bags all the way to IAH (thru JNB and LOS). When I asked her specifically if I will have to pick up my bag at LOS, she told me that I would not have to. While I was going through transit at JNB, I asked another SA agent at the transfer counter at JNB if I would have to pick up my bag at LOS. Once again, I was told that my bag will be transferred onto the LOS to IAH flight automatically. After arriving at LOS and going through immigration there, my friend and I decided just to look at the luggage conveyor belt just in case. Was I glad we did - our bags were right there on the luggage conveyor belt, having been off loaded from the flight from JNB to LOS. Had we not looked at the conveyor belt and picked up our luggage at LOS, I am sure we would never see our bags again.

3. I had to "bribe" my way out of Nigeria essentially. After going through the metal detector on the departure level, one of the security personnel started looking through my carry on luggage, and demanded cash from me. I was not bringing anything illegal onto the plane. She asked me for $100; I ended up giving her $60. $60 was not much, I know, but it was just a totally unpleasant experience. I know that corruption/bribery are everyday occurrences in other countries. I wonder if other travelers have had similar experiences going thru LOS.

I have made international connections through at several different countries before, and this experience going through LOS was by far the most unpleasant one. For those of you who are cashing in your miles and finding award seats going through LOS, don't rejoice too much. Be prepared for hassles going through LOS!!!
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Old Feb 25, 12, 12:23 am
  #2  
 
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Sorry to hear about los. Ridiculous
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Old Feb 25, 12, 12:45 am
  #3  
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Sounds like you got bad information on your baggage. Good that you were pro-active about checking the carousel.
That said, I'm perplexed why you would connect through LOS without doing some basic research first?
If you had called the Nigerian embassy or checked online, you would have found out straight away that a transit visa was required.
Barring that you could have checked FT ... in the Africa forum, there's this thread on Lagos http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/afric...1-nigeria.html Post #44 says you need a transit visa.
Also, if you had done some checking in advance (including reading that thread) you'd have found that Lagos is not the easiest city to navigate, in more ways than one. That also should have given you pause.
All-in-all, sorry to hear you didn't have a good experience. But with a little advance preparation you could have avoided the visa issue and more than likely chosen another connection point, including ACC (UA non-stop to IAD).

Last edited by UAPremExecflyer; Feb 25, 12 at 12:46 am Reason: added UA
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Old Feb 25, 12, 9:08 am
  #4  
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I agree that I should have looked around on flyertalk prior to my trip, so that I could psychologically prepare myself better for connecting at LOS.

I did do my minimum homework - I did check the Nigerian Embassy online prior to my travels and got a visa for Nigeria before I left the US. But even that was a hassle - one has to pay a fee to the Nigerian Immigration Service online, and then make a payment to the Nigerian Embassy in DC separately.
I wonder what would have happened if I had showed up for transit in Nigeria without having a visa in my passport! When I checked in with SA at MPM (for my flights to JNB and LOS), the airport agent did not bother to check if I had a Nigerian visa. I suppose I probably could have bribed my way thru the immigration service at LOS - but at what price?!?

I did think about the possibility of finding seats on the JNB-ACC flight and then connecting onto UA at ACC, but knowing that the CO BF product is better than the UA biz product, I decided to just give the LOS-IAH flight a chance. At least that flight did turn out to be a very comfortable one, since the BF cabin was only 1/4 filled!
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Old Feb 25, 12, 4:34 pm
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If I have to do this over again, I will avoid connecting at LOS at all costs.
If you read about how much CO had to deal with just to serve LOS in the first place you might have thought twice about it...

The whole place is a big scam..
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Old Feb 26, 12, 8:55 am
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Avoid Lagos at all costs.

The illegal demanding of payment from travellers exiting Lagos is a decades-old scam. Unfortunately, they do have some leverage being in an official capacity. It is condoned higher up the chain as a portion of the proceeds must be shared w/ supervisors or they lose their jobs. It will never go away. People who do regular business there (and especially who have local representative offices) usually can get out w/o having to put up the money. The main targets are infrequent visitors, non-business transit travellers, and tourists.
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Old Feb 26, 12, 11:11 am
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
The illegal demanding of payment from travellers exiting Lagos is a decades-old scam. Unfortunately, they do have some leverage being in an official capacity. It is condoned higher up the chain as a portion of the proceeds must be shared w/ supervisors or they lose their jobs. It will never go away. People who do regular business there (and especially who have local representative offices) usually can get out w/o having to put up the money. The main targets are infrequent visitors, non-business transit travellers, and tourists.
One trick that sometimes works is to ask for a receipt. Tell them you will be glad to pay any fees, but need documentation so you can report it and get reimbursed. If you stick to your demand, they usually give up.

Also, depending on why you are traveling (if business) this is reportable under the FCPA.

FWIW
DLM
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Old Feb 26, 12, 12:19 pm
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Sounds horrifying.

I may have to travel there on business some time this year

But if I do have to go, and something like this happens I'll take dmunz advice and ask for a receipt.
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Old Feb 26, 12, 5:46 pm
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I have worked in Nigeria for 2 years. The only way not to fork over "small money" is to check all your luggage and have absolutely nothing to carry on. Plus after the first check point you can always claim that the first guy took all your cash.
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Old Feb 27, 12, 12:01 am
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Thanks for all the responses. I was quite amused by what everyone had to say! I have to say that I like the strategy of saying that the last guy took all my money - to try to avoid paying those "charges". In my case, I am not sure if asking for a receipt would have made any difference. That security screener who asked for the $100 from me did not even bother to lie about that charge. In fact, she made it quite clear that she was doing something shady. At first, she kept on whispering to me "give me money". I pretended that I could not understand her, but that strategy did not work. When I gave her $20, she asked for $100. I then put $60 in the outermost part of my carry on luggage. She then proceeded to do a very cursory search of my luggage and took the $60 and slipped in under her belt. Kind of lame, in my opinion. If this was all caught on tape, there would have been no questions what she was trying to do. Oh well. I hope she used the $ to buy some good food for her kids.
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Old Feb 27, 12, 1:16 pm
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Originally Posted by UAaddict View Post
I hope she used the $ to buy some good food for her kids.
Um, ya, right

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Old Mar 1, 12, 7:49 am
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Originally Posted by EmailKid View Post
Um, ya, right

EmailKid
What do you suppose she used it for?
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Old Mar 1, 12, 9:12 am
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I would be far more concerned about the ability for someone to bribe their way past the security checkpoint with an improper item in their possession. I remember that for many years, most US airport security checkpoints had a sign that said "The airport in Lagos, Nigeria does not maintain effective aviation security measures."
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Old Mar 1, 12, 11:45 pm
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Very good point, Steve M
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Old Mar 2, 12, 1:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Plane-is-home View Post
I have worked in Nigeria for 2 years. The only way not to fork over "small money" is to check all your luggage and have absolutely nothing to carry on. Plus after the first check point you can always claim that the first guy took all your cash.
What happens if you make sure your wallet is empty? Would they just take some of your stuff then? (Or perhaps something less pleasant?)

I have the idea of telling the second person, "the first guy took $500, but he told me to tell you he only asked for $50". I don't know if that's a good idea though.
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