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Marhaba, Air Arabia

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.

Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa's first and largest Low Cost Carrier (LCC)
Close View of A320 Air Arabia

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.

Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa's first and largest Low Cost Carrier (LCC)
Fleet of 36 A320-200.

Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa's first and largest Low Cost Carrier (LCC)
A View of A320 Air Arabia

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.

Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa's first and largest Low Cost Carrier (LCC)
Seats marked Reserved are actually paid seats. First two rows AED70 and Row 3 and 4 at AED50 per set.

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.

Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa's first and largest Low Cost Carrier (LCC)
Pitch length of 32 inches gives enough knee room.

air arabia, the Middle East and North Africa's first and largest Low Cost Carrier (LCC)
Vegetable Biryani for dinner

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.

Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa's first and largest Low Cost Carrier (LCC)
A fleet of 36 A320-200

Note: My visit to Sharjah was made possible by Sharjah Tourism and Air Arabia.

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22 thoughts on “Marhaba, Air Arabia”

  1. We have never heard of this airline before – thanks for sharing this information. It sounds like you had a great flight, and that they provided outstanding customer service. I appreciate that you included so much detailed information. We will certainly have to keep this airline in mind 🙂

    1. Thanks Marissa. It has been around for some time now. However their operations were predominantly in the Arab region. For the last some years or so they have started ops in North Africa and India too.

    1. Of course there is nothing wrong with Etihad. More choices are always good for the travellers. Also, this being a low cost airline, does give a good competition. 🙂

  2. I have heard of it but never flown. Great prices! I also love the good legroom since I am quite tall. Since I am not a big fan of airline food, it is ok if they are not going to charge me for the same:) I think I must try to Air Arabia during my next trip to Gulf.

  3. I was not familiar with this airline at all but it seems to be like all the others, nickel and dim you for every little thing. I liked reading this review. I never thought about reviewing a flight before and it was very informative. Well done.

    1. Thanks Melody. Yes Isn’t it? 🙂 . There are always two parts to airline experience. One is what services they provide and other is how you perceived their services.

  4. Like so many others commenting, I’d never heard of this airline, but if the flight’s on time it works for me. I have to say that rice dish looked delicious as well. We need more low cost airlines, as long as they’re safe of course.

  5. Thanks for introducing me to an airline I have not heard of. It’s interesting that they charge for water, but that seems to be the trend, a fee for everything once you are on the plane. Great tips!

  6. It looks like a great airline and it seems you had a wonderful experience with them. I really like the extra legroom space available. I would definitely consider traveling with them

  7. Great post. How much is INR 13000 in CAD or USD? The Vegetable Biryani looks like a lot of food for it to be plane food and the plane looks pretty comfy. It’s a beautiful bird for sure!!!

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