After a deliberate thought I thought of writing this blog. Last year in December 2016, I alleged of trying the low cost airline Fly Dubai because of its cheap fares and services that could be add on by making a small fee like selecting your preferred seat and luggage weight upon a small fee payment. The option is not bad and highly recommended especially for its fares value. However, my first experience with the airline was not all that merry and I just returned from the most frustrating experience with that I’ve ever experienced. From beginning to end, it seemed like there was nothing but issues. I began planning my trip on the Fly Dubai website, and booked a trip for one-way economy and a return trip in business class. Sounds simple enough, right? My experience from there was anything but simple! But I’ll be honest that the issues were limited to Karachi Airport and Royal Airport Services only.
Well, to cut the long story short, after booking my ticket online through Fly Dubai’s official website, instead of paying through my credit card, I decided to pay my fee in cash at Jinnah International at the Royal Airport Services office. When I got to the office they demanded that I pay PKRS 34600 rather than 28800 which I was quoted on the website. Apparently the online price didn’t include taxes, so I was hit with a price that was much higher than I expected. I refused to pay such an exorbitant price and walked out of the office a little confused. I checked the website again and was able to purchase the same ticket for a net price of Rs. 28800 including all fees and taxes. I don’t know whether the Royal Airport Services office was lying or misinformed, but I sure am glad I decided to check the website again! The rest of the days went smoothly until the day of my departure arrived and I headed towards the Karachi International Airport three hours earlier on December 6, 2016 to catch my 10:30 AM Fly Dubai flight # FZ0334. After getting into the check in counter, the staff gave me a hard time despite my visa being marked “OK to board”. I had to go back to Royal Airport Services and back again, and when I got into the line they then informed me that I needed 3 photocopies of the passport and visa attested by the Royal Airport Services! Which airline in the world asks for photocopies of a passport? Luckily, I travel with plenty of extra copies of the passport and visa just in case a need may arise. To my dismay I went out of the airport again to the Royal Airport Services and luckily the officer there on duty didn’t demand any payment for the additional attestations, and I was able to get things situated.
Once I got back to the counter, they asked for three copies of my ticket. It seemed like they needed three copies for everything! I only had two copies and demanded to see a station manager, and eventually the attendant gave in and continued processing my check in without further hassle for demanding three photocopies of any other document. If that wasn’t enough, the attendant then began to give me a hard time because I’m overweight. He explained that I wouldn’t be able to have the seat I booked and paid for in advance an extra US$ 15/- just to get the desired bulkhead seat, and I was furious. That was the last straw. I wanted to complain in writing, but decided against it. Who knows how many mouths this guy had to feed? I bit my tongue and eventually worked out a situation where I could board and sit in my assigned seat. I asked to see the duty manager who turned in to be a sweet guy and sorted things for me but I am pretty sure the way he was defending the guy on counter, he would not say a single thing to him, but anyways.
Thankfully, once I was inside the aircraft of Fly Dubai my situation was a lot more pleasant. The service level was unexpectedly high, and the quality of meal was not bad, although as I said that these services are either prepaid at the time of booking or you can pay during the flight. The meal is not expensive either for around US$ 15/- you can buy a sandwich and a drink. Besides, the airline allow you to bring your own meal as well, so if you love MacDonald’s Fillet o Fish you just grab it! I had prepaid approximately US$ 15/- for the bulkhead seat and bet it had double the leg space as compared to many of the full cost airlines (If you decide to get the bulkhead seat in flight you might need to pay around US$ 30/- so it is better and advisable to do so at the time of booking at half the cost). The staff was also very courteous and ready to help.
I wanted to return a day early and it was a breeze to get it set up. The business class representative on phone assured me I didn’t need a million photo copies of every
different thing and document, she also apologized for the behavior I received at Karachi Airport and when I got to the airport I was able to walk on through with just my passport and a boarding pass on December 11, 2016. The dedicated business class check in counter made the process swift and the business class lounge of Fly Dubai is better than many café’s. Comfortable bistro style seating arrangements, wide variety of buffet and unlimited cold and hot beverages with fast speed Wi-Fi would make your wait for the flight worthwhile. When I was ready to board, there is a dedicated Business Boarding Gate, where I was asked to be at 20 minutes before my flight would depart by the staff of the lounge. A separate bus would then take the business class passengers from this gate to the aircraft to board.
Once inside the aircraft, there is a significant difference between the business class cabin of Fly Dubai and other airlines that I have flown with but nevertheless, the business class cabin is not bad at all (although I would rate it as an economy premium plus with extra comfortable seats with more cabin space). I noticed that the seats are very much comfortable and spacious with a built-in lumbar support, generous recline and extendable leg-rests, and probably an Italian leather seat that provided me the perfect opportunity to relax. Sit back and enjoy a movie on the 12.1-inch built-in touchscreen, (A service that you need to pay for in economy class and would cost around US$ 15/- or if you need to prepare for an important meeting, or charge your phones or tablets, then all business class seats are equipped with a power supply for your laptops and phone chargers. The good part is only 12 business passengers are accommodated in a business class cabin, and the cabin crew offers a personal and friendly service. The meal served is not bad (A proper three course meal is served whereas in economy you are required to pay for your meal) and to keep passengers refreshed a selection of soft and hot drinks were served throughout the flight.
I guess the moral of the story is that I wouldn’t mind traveling Fly Dubai again but this airline really needs to fix its staff at Karachi airport and they really need to take into notice how Royal Airport Services in Karachi are charging an extra fee in the name of fake taxes!