Corporate Flight Attendant Training 101 – Nigeria
This is a post by guest author Dietmar Duller, founder and course leader of Training Solutions. Dietmar was asked to contribute to this blog because of his expertise in business aviation flight attendant training in Europe, the Middle East, and Western and Northern Africa. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Dietmar’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.
Flying into Nigeria certainly presents a challenge for most corporate flight attendants due to issues such as cultural differences and language issues. Therefore, being prepared ahead of time and knowing what to expect with regards to vaccinations, safety and security, in-flight catering, and cultural differences is helpful.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. What vaccinations need to be obtained before flying into Nigeria?
There are different types of vaccinations one needs to consider when traveling to Nigeria. Below is a list to refer to:
Polio injections are a must. If you stay in Nigeria for a period of 28 days or more, Nigerian government officials may check if you have been vaccinated against polio when you exit the country.
Injections for Hepatitis A and B, as well as for yellow fever and typhoid, are also recommended for most travelers, especially if you intend to travel to rural areas.
Malaria and other illnesses are also common; therefore, it is necessary to talk to a specialist to ensure that you are protected against any possible illness. You might also want to obtain and carry with you the “International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis,” which will contain all the dates of your injections.
2. What safety and security measurements need to be considered when flying into and in Nigeria?
Before even flying to Nigeria, you should ensure that you have adequate medical insurance which covers all expenses in case of any accidents as only basic medical services are available in many cities.
Public transport should be avoided at all times, and secure transportation (car and driver) is recommended. Also, many hotels offer cars for hire with a driver.
Only take small amounts of cash with you, and do not wear expensive watches or jewelry at any time.
Avoid public places which are insecure, religious, or congested, including markets and other large gathering locations, whenever possible.
Passengers often fly with large amounts of luggage, and frequently with many pieces of luggage in the cabin. Ensure that the emergency exits are always accessible.
Security information which was valid two years ago is likely no longer adequate, so it is important that you constantly follow news reports and be aware of any developments. Familiarize yourself with these tips for business aviation security planning.
It is advised to take a mobile phone with you at all times.
Using common sense is important. Never provide anyone with information about the flight or give out any details either before or after the flight.
3. What are the challenges when flying in Nigeria?
Being able to provide VIP service despite the lack of infrastructure in the area is often a big challenge.
Hygiene is an issue, and corporate flight attendants need to be strict with hygiene measures – especially regarding catering personnel and airport staff.
Plates, glasses, and cutlery should never leave the aircraft as local handling companies may have very different standards with regards to cleanliness and hygiene.
As many items are not readily available in supermarkets, it is suggested that you stock items you often need. Whenever your aircraft goes to countries with a wider range of goods available, you should stock up on everything, including food and beverages, cleaning items, perfume, etc. It’s important to remember to check with your 3rd-party provider or ground handler on any restrictions pertaining to items you look to bring onboard with you. Many countries may be strict on what is permitted, and any items deemed restricted will likely be destroyed.
Supermarkets in Nigeria often have electricity failures, so it’s not recommended to buy refrigerated items from them. Most supermarkets have generators, but they do not always start running right away due to diesel saving measures.
Improvising is the key to success, and being creative is crucial.
4. What are the catering issues in Nigeria?
Be proactive and pay several visits to the caterer you have chosen to work with. Check the kitchen for cleanliness and hygiene regiments, discuss menu options, send pictures and recipes, and write feedback. It’s important to show caterers pictures indicating how meals should be presented, including everything from how fruit should be cut to packaging details. It is also recommended that you show websites and menus from established aviation caterers as examples of what you are looking for.
Caterers in many cases may be late with deliveries, and delays will often not be proactively communicated to you. Sometimes catering can be hours late despite your effort to explain the importance of being on time.To mitigate this, my recommendation is to provide an earlier-than-needed delivery time.
Dry ice is not available in most parts of Nigeria, and catering companies generally do not have cooling cars. Catering companies often transport food to the airports using their own vehicles, sometimes even on motorcycles.
Make sure to ask for invoices prior to or at the time of delivery, and check them for correctness.
Cash payments are often the only option unless a contract is established with the caterer or your 3rd-party provider, and only hotels accept payment by credit card. Ask your 3rd-party provider or local ground handler if they have a pre-vetted or preferred caterer.
5. What are the cultural differences in Nigeria?
The greeting process is important, and it is considered rude to rush this. Smiling and showing that you are genuinely interested in meeting people is vital. Questions about a person’s health and the health of their family are common.
Nigeria has a hierarchical society, and a family’s honor is influenced by the family members’ actions.
Family relationships are important, while seniority, social standing, and recognition are achieved through having large families.
Older people are given respect as their age and position are believed to give them wisdom. Often the oldest person makes the decisions that are in the best interest of the family.
Both good communication and being humble are important, and getting to know the people you are working with will only make your job easier and more rewarding.
If you have questions about this article, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.