Nigeria is generally perceived as a country where everyone is money conscious and so, money rules the day. Lagos being the business hub of Nigeria is not let off. Unlike some other states were a majority of the population takes on jobs mainly to fulfill dreams and pursue their passions, the key motivation for workers in Lagos is the wage and the addition that comes from extra ‘hustling’. Passion, vision and dreams only comes after the money has been made, so, people only render regular services when there is fiscal incentive, and excellent service in the occasion of a bonus or tip. Consequently, tipping has become the only way to get things done commendably.
While some might argue that this notion is one of the many typecasts associated with the state and country, there are not enough facts to dispel the already wide-spread conjecture. Tipping is expected by everyone: policemen on the road, waiters at restaurants, porters at hotels, taxi/cab drivers, baggage handlers etc. Most agonizing is the tipping tradition at the Lagos airports. Lagos has the busiest airports in the country (Murtala Mohamed Airports -MM 1 and 2), and everyday myriads of travelers are seen flocking in and out. Most of these travelers usually do not wear pleasant smiles on their faces as they have to endure endless tipping to ensure they get a smooth travelling experience.
For those travelling out of Lagos, It usually starts from the parking lot. To get a good parking space, you have to tip the coordinators with a smile and maybe even pleasant small talk. If you don’t, they would most likely park you somewhere so far from the entrance that you have enough time on the trek to regret not tipping them. Next are the luggage handlers. There are designated carts to help you move your luggage from the car to the departure lounge, however, aside from the fee you have to pay to get one, you would be expected to tip the airport staff attached to the cart to help you load the cart, follow you to the ticket stand and possibly move it to the check-in counter. At the ticket stand, the tipping is inescapable. The airport staff who are meant to direct and assist you, expect you to tip them for any assistance given, and usually even negotiate on the amount before assisting you. On getting to the check-in counter, depending on how much luggage you have, you would be asked to weigh you luggage. After that, you have to stay a while at the waiting lounge for your flight to be announced. Even at the waiting lounge, some officials without being asked help you out with the stamping processes and even advise you on what entrance to sit close to, so that you can queue easily when you hear the announcement of your flight. These Officials also expect to get a tip.
For travelers coming in to Lagos, it is almost the same routine, from the arrival lounge to pick up point, there are different airport officials who solicit tipping for different reasons. Sometimes these officials work as a group and share a large tip from the traveler in the end, while some officials attach themselves to one travel and assist the traveler through various points and receive a large tip at the end. Whatever the case, the traveler ends up tipping, and quite largely too as these airport officials get offended when they are handed paltry sums of money. Most would prefer being tipped in foreign currency such as the US dollar, Euro or British Pounds
Whereas the tipping tradition at the airports might seem like a huge problem, most people who live in Lagos are not bothered by it. They rather encourage it as they see it as a means to achieve quick results. They argue that the decision to tip is quite optional, but then its advantages make it imperative. In countries such as USA, it is compulsory to tip, and they go as far as factoring the tip into your bill (mostly at restaurant). Unfortunately though, the workers do not remember you the next time you visit, and they treat you like every other person. In Lagos however, you tip what you want and how you want, but when you do tip, not only do you get expedient service, the workers mark you and are willing to offer quick and prompt service next time. Some even go as far as giving out their numbers to ensure you get their help next time. Again, the tipping tradition is justified with the fact that these officials get paid very sub-standard salaries and need these tips to live above minimum wage. In this regard, tipping should no longer just be a form of courtesy- to show that you appreciate and respect the service of the person serving you, but also be a medium through which the recipients can receive financial assistance.
No matter the reasons given to justify tipping tradition at the Lagos airport, there are still heavy cons to the dilemma. Things becomes especially difficult for young or low-budget travelers who have actual need of assistance but do not have enough cash to tip accordingly. Again, expatriates who are not well acquainted with the tipping tradition, find it overwhelmingly absurd and get the bad impression that in Lagos, things only get done once the pocket is involved.
To help you survive the travails of tipping at the Lagos airports. Jumia Travel, Africa’s No. 1 online booking portal has these 7 valuable tips:
• Ensure you have lots of change when travelling via the airport
• Giving the tip before the task most times speeds up the service
• Do not engage officials who try to negotiate before assisting.
• Discreetly tip by putting the money in their hand
• Do not feel obligated to use the services of the airport officials. It is okay to say ‘No’ and go through due processes on your own. You should however prepare your mind for the length of time you might take to complete each process.
• Always collect the number of the official you tipped as it comes in handy next time. They will respond faster when you call before arrival.
• Sometimes, the best tip to leave is something other than money
Nkem Ndem | PR Associate at Jumia Travel