Charles Uzoma Odenigbo, a Nigerian professor of Nephrology, who flew Air France from Canada to Abuja on March 21, 2022, has had his luggage torn open by the airline while on transit, according to SaharaReporters.
The professor, upon arriving in Abuja, realised that one of his boxes was missing and when he complained at the airline’s counter at the airport, he was told that the luggage would arrive in two days’ time.
Originally scheduled to fly to Asaba, Delta State, where he resides the following morning by an Air Peace flight, the medical expert was forced to stay at a hotel in Abuja for two days and bear the cost after Air France officials made it clear they were not going to send the box to his home.
However, when the luggage finally arrived in Abuja and he was notified of it, the situation took another dimension.
The professor realised that the box had been terribly torn open without any note stating the reason for the action.
A complaint letter written to the airline asking for an explanation and apology for the incident was ignored; instead, the professor received a message from the French carrier asking him to send his bank account details for funds to purchase a new box.
Narrating his bitter experience, Prof Odenigbo said, “My nightmare started on reaching Abuja. After everyone else had received their luggage, only three of us were left.
“I was confused. A staff member of Air France approached us and asked for our names. He then informed us that our luggage could not be accommodated on the flight and so were left behind. I reminded him that mine was priority luggage and so should not suffer such, especially when it was only three people affected.
“He appologised and said it will arrive with the next flight in two days. He asked me to fill out a form and gave me a phone number to call for enquiries. I told him that I am a medical doctor and was due to resume duty. I also told him that I had a booked local flight with Air Peace early the next morning since I reside in Asaba, Delta State.
“I told him that several years ago, I had a similar experience with Etihad Airways after returning from Rome in economy class and they brought my luggage right to my doorstep in Asaba. He said that all airlines have been directed by the Nigerian Government not to handle luggage anymore.
“He said the only option I had was to ask a third party to do it. I told him I had no third party and that since it didn’t make sense to fly back to Asaba on Wednesday morning and return on Thursday, I would have to extend my stay, though it would cause heavy disruptions to my schedule. He advised that I could do so and submit my claims on their website.
“I left feeling confused but felt I had no better choice, because some of the things I had in my luggage, I needed to hand out to people who would come to welcome me. I spent two days in a hotel in Abuja.
“On the night I received confirmation that the luggage had arrived, I was so relieved that I didn’t get one second of sleep until 6:00 am (March 25th), when I started getting ready to leave my hotel. At 7:30 am, I was in the luggage room and showed them my papers and to my utter shock, my box was ripped apart in the most wicked way imaginable.
“I asked the attendant the meaning and he said it was done by security in France. I told him that this luggage was checked in Ottawa and then Toronto and in each place, it passed security. Why would the French security do this to luggage?
“A luggage ripped open and left agape this way can have any item planted inside to implicate me. I asked him how I could be sure of the contents, he then told me that he had never seen this degree of destruction on a property, but that they were not staff members of Air France.
“He said the staff of Air France would be back at night. The senior staff member on duty then directed his subordinate to take a photo of the state of the bag and write a report and hand it over to the Air France staff member when he resumes.
“I took my luggage but felt severely humiliated and depressed. I felt I had suffered a severe injustice. When I got to the domestic wing of the airport, they refused to check in my luggage in that state, saying that they could not guarantee the safety of the contents. I then went outside to tape the box all-around before it was checked in.
“French security did not leave any paper to identify who did this. My luggage was pushed to me without any explanatory paper inside. I need the decision-makers in Air France to know the harm their practices are causing people like me. This is what matters to me and I will fight to see that it happens. I deserve feedback from the Air France management on this brutal damage of my baggage and humiliation to a priority traveller.”
An email enquiry sent by SaharaReporters to Air France on the issue had yet to be responded to as of the time of filing this report.