I did not have a choice of vessel and connecting country in my first journey outside Nigeria to the U.S, because I traveled with a group of business men and women who were organized to attend a conference in Miami, Florida. We were asked to submit our travel documents and paid required fees after we had appeared together at the
U.S embassy in Lagos for Visa interview. The organizers made the arrangement for vessel of transportation. When we were told that we were traveling by Swiss Air and that we would stop over in Zurich before traveling to Miami, I did not have a choice against the selection of vessel, the connecting city and the cost. I thought it was better to travel with the group I would be attending the same conference. I did not know what difference was between traveling through London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Zurich. In my view, all the cities were in
Europe. Arriving in Miami - my final destination – was the most important in my thoughts. I did not see much in Zurich, because we were not allowed to leave the airport before our flight to Miami. Miami was my first travel from Lagos to the West. I enjoyed the seven days in Miami, first because of the group that I belonged along with the programs we attended and the friendliness of the people in the city. I took off from Miami after the conference and traveled to New York in an Amtrak Train when Hurricane threatened the city. There can be no other adventure like traveling in a train from Miami to New York. The journey in a train continued all the way from Penn Station in New York to Flatbush in Brooklyn, from where my host took me in his car to Canarsie area of the borough where he lived.
Unlike my first major journey from Nigeria to the U.S, my second journey was under my control and I chose a vessel of transportation that decided the connecting country. When one travels in a British Airways aircraft, the natural connecting city is London. I had just graduated from college and had my U.S passport, yet I did not have the interest of going to see London. My mind was set to arriving in Nigeria to see my aged mother, whom I saw last 10 years before the time. Another militating factor was that I had just 3 hours to wait at the airport to before connecting my flight to Lagos. However, I saw something of interest at the Heathrow Airport. The airport is big. Moving from the arrival hall after the aircraft had touched down to another part of the airport for a train to connect the departure hall for my flight was interesting. It reminded of an earlier fruitless journey to Dubai earlier before the conference call to Miami about the beauty of Dubai International Airport. When one compares the two airports, one will realize the beauty of competition among advanced countries toward excellence in architecture and provision of convenience for travelers. The British Airways, the Swiss Air and the Emirate Airline offer good services. The Dubai International Airport, Heathrow Airport, John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta are in a class of their own. My return journey from Dubai to Lagos revealed to me that Lagos and Sudan are in a class of their own. The aircraft that flew me to Lagos from Khartoum was almost empty and I felt the noise like an empty drum. I thanked God on touching down safely in Lagos. My return journey from Lagos to New York was the same as my first through the same city. After few hours at the airport, I checked into the aircraft for my flight to New York.
My third travel was like my second, also from New York to Lagos. But during the third travel I did not travel through London. By that you must have guessed that I did not travel with the British Airways. I also did not have complete control over my choice of vessel and the connecting city like in my first travel, but due to a difference circumstance. I received a notice from one of my younger sisters in Nigeria that my mother had passed just seven months after my second journey when I went and saw her. Apart from the devastation the information of
her death caused me, I had lean purse at the time. I also had to plan traveling with my wife. My wife already had a Delta return ticket to Lagos. I was required to purchase a new ticket with a keen sense of management that allied with my lean purse. It meant shopping for a cheap airfare. I called all the airline and I found Delta to be the most manageable based on my purse. The traveling itinerary was hard, having to wait in Atlanta for almost 10 hours before connecting my Lagos flight. I found similarity between the Heathrow and the Atlanta airport. There was almost no difference in my movement at the Heathrow and the Atlanta experience, except for the long hours that I waited at Atlanta to catch my flight, which afforded me the opportunity to see the level of comfort at the airport. On arrival, after I emerged from the train that brought me from New Arrival hall before walking up the escalator to the departure hall in the Concord area of the airport for my flight to Lagos. Airport officials told me I could keep me luggage at the airport and will be issued a ticket, to enable me to go and see the city. But I remained at the airport for my flight, because I was mourning.
If I had a choice, I would not have stayed so long at the airport in Atlanta. I would have paid any airline for a shorter duration of travel. Aside from my long wait at Atlanta, Delta flights were perfect. I felt a greater discomfort in Lagos, where the airport was hardly air-conditioned, in a hot weather that required efficient air-conditioning. The same experience marred the number of days that I spent and slept in Lagos from inadequate electricity supply.