Emeka hurried into the airport lounge, his travel bag slung over his shoulder, he headed straight to the counter, flashed a smile and tendered his ticket. He checked his wrist watch, it was 6:45am.
“I’m sorry sir, the flight has been cancelled.” The female passenger Sales officer announced.
The news hit him like a falling building . “What do you mean by the flight has been cancelled? Is this a sort of joke?”
“I’m sorry sir, we got the information minutes ago”. She replied instantly.
Emeka stared down at her with a bewildered expression. “How? …how on earth would you do this? you guys told me to be here by 7am and now the flight is cancelled? You weren’t even decent enough to inform us about the new development. Why was it cancelled if I may ask?”
“I don’t know sir. “ She retorted looking away. Emeka felt a storm rise in her. “What sort of stupid airline is this? I have a meeting for 12 in Port Harcourt for Christ sake. If I had boarded a night bus, I for don reach now?” The roar in his voice alerted other passengers who queued behind him. They learnt about the development, joined him at the front of the counter and added their voices to the chorus of condemnation.
The PSO excused herself and returned with an elderly man who led about 10 of them into an office. He calmly explained that the management of the airline were having internal issues and that had affected their flight’s operation. He collected their tickets and promised to arrange another flight for them as soon as possible.
” Sir pls can you make this very fast? I have a business meeting for 12 pm. Pls, can you sort us out in like an hour’s time. I beg you.” Emeka pleaded. The man nodded in the affirmative.
They trooped out of the room one after the other and occupied the large empty metal seats at the middle of the airport lounge. Emeka checked his watch again, it was 7:40am. Why hadn’t he boarded a night bus or booked another airline? He shook his head, stood up and headed to Soar Airlines’ stand.
“Pls do you have a flight for Lagos to Port Harcourt today and pls what time’
‘A minute pls!’ The ticketing officer tapped her keyboard and mouse and fixed her eyes on the computer. “There’s a flight for 9:30am to 10:40am. There are no first class seats and economy seats, the business seat goes for N51,000”.
‘N51,000?’ He uttered in disbelief and walked slowly to other Airline stands. They all had no morning flights. He returned to his seat slowly and prayed that the alternative arrangement will be in his favour. He picked a newspaper and dropped it instantly, removed his phone from his back pocket, scrolled through the menu and locked it.
After about an hour, the elderly man returned clutching some tickets. “Is everyone here?”
“Yes” they answered in unison.
” We just made an arrangement with Pacific Airlines for 4 o’ clock.”
“4 o’ clock?” they screamed and murmured. “O my God?”. Emeka’s voice roared again. “You guys have succeeded in ruining my day and destabilising my plans. Pls sir, is there any way you can fix us with Soar Airlines, it leaves 2 hours time or thereabout.’
The man apologised again. “We made enquiries about it but there are no economy seats”.
“I don’t mind adding extra cash pls. I just must leave with that airline”.
‘That won’t be possible sir. We are deeply sorry for inconveniences. We regret it’. He distributed the tickets and walked away. Emeka hissed repeatedly and tucked his at the back of his trousers. There was no way he would wait till 4 o’clock. He brought out his phone and dialled some numbers.
“Hi Charles, I need your help Pls can I get about N51,000 from you now. I will return it as soon as I get to PH today. I forgot my second ATM card at home. Pls you’ll get your cash as soon as I land. Pls”
Charles asked for his account no and informed him minutes later that he had sent it through online transfer. 15 minutes after he returned from the ATM point, he called back.
“Guy, I never see alert o and I just checked my balance at the ATM.”
” Maybe it’s the network at your end. I’m sure you’ll get it soon. “Charles replied.
20 minutes later, he withdrew the cash and quickly joined the queue at the Soar Airlines stand again. He got to his turn and announced he wanted a ticket for Port Harcourt.
“Port Harcourt is no more available”. The news came as a bitter blow.
He swallowed hard and begged.”Pls I beg you, I was the one who spoke to you like an hour ago and you told me there were….”
” I know but there’s nothing I can do. It closed 5minutes ago.” she interrupted.
“5 minutes? Pls I beg you with the name of God, this trip is very important to me…”
” Gentleman, passengers are being checked in as we speak. There’s nothing we can do about it. Next customer pls”.
The sadness in his face was unmistakable. The meeting he was to attend was set up to finalise a contract he had been pursuing for months. He was to supply chemicals and equipment worth about N7million to a newly-built hospital in Port Harcourt. He sighed heavily. His eyes were laced with pain. Who misses that kind of juicy deal? He went back to his seat, stood up immediately and told the man sitting close to him he was visiting a nearby eatery.
He had consumed the fried rice he had bought and was about ordering for snacks when a breaking news appeared on the screen of the TV before him.
Everyone in the eatery screamed after reading the caption.
“Port-Harcourt- bound Soar Airline flight crashes15 minutes after take-off.”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or ololade.olatunji@yahoo