Air Arabia, the low-cost airline from Sharjah, has been around for a decade or so. The objective was to provide affordable flights, for the frequent visitors and people working here from over 100 cities of 34 African, Asian and also European countries. There are flights from 14 cities in India! The entire fleet of 30+ aircrafts are A320-200s and the insides are quite cheerful and comfortable.
A basic return flight from Mumbai to Sharjah currently costs just about INR 13000.
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Sharjah from Mumbai, to witness the 7th edition of Sharjah Light Festival.
Any initial interaction with an airline starts with their internet support. I was able to do web check-in quite easily, about 15 hours before the scheduled departure. The user interface was quite clean and I had to key in just three pieces of info. One could opt for a suitable seat at this point. In a few cities in the UAE, one can also do city check-in including bag drop and avoid carrying luggage to the airport.
My own ticket had 30KG baggage pre-booked from and to India. It is always better to pre-book baggage than to pay at the airport, as it is much cheaper. Hand luggage is free as long as it is up to 10KG.
At the airport, the check-in counters open 3 hours before the flight and in Mumbai there was one counter for baggage drop for those who had done on-line check-in. That was good for me as I was perhaps the first person in that counter. 🙂 The staff was courteous and ushered me on in a few minutes after handing me my boarding pass.
The first four rows are special rows and can be booked on paying extra AED70 for first two and AED50 for the next. I was on the first row which had good legroom. On the return journey I was in row #5 and I was most surprised at the more than adequate leg room. Air Arabia boasts of one of the largest seat pitch of 32 inches in their economy seats, instead of the standard 28” in many other airlines. No more knocking of my knees on the back of the seat ahead.
Meals can also be pre-booked and there are several options. I had booked Dosa for breakfast and Vegetable biryani on the way back for dinner. Considering the challenges of storing, reheating and serving, the food was ok. The Sky Café takes care of all those who want to order food during the flight.
While even water is for sale up there, the crew took kindly to a passenger needing water to swallow his pills and served him a glass. The best alternative to not buying water in the flight is to buy on ground or better still fill up a bottle or two. The security was kind enough to allow me (and others too) to carry water bottle inside.
Both my flights were on time and on the return journey we landed even before time! The baggage services were quite fast. At Sharjah airport, owing to the huge crowd, baggage had arrived even before we cleared immigration.The inflight entertainment was via a screen belting out comedies. I was also told that there was an effort called Fun-On-board that encourages talents of the passengers on board to come to the fore on the aisle. It was not on our flight but I thought that was a great idea.
Over all I had quite a comfortable flight and communication with crew was not a problem as the crew spoke many languages including Hindi, Arabic and English that took care majority of passengers’ needs.
Note: My visit to Sharjah was made possible by Sharjah Tourism and Air Arabia.
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