I live in Goa – this is the first thing I told them when I received an invite from Sharjah Tourism. ‘Oh Yes, we know. Air Arabia flies direct from Goa to Sharjah’ – they said. I almost jumped out of my chair. It sounded like a dream come true – when was the last time I flew to an international destination without a transit at Mumbai or Delhi. The joy of reaching the destination i.e reaching Sharjah in this case, in one flight was too good to be true, even if the both onward and return flights were early morning and midnight flights.
Small Town Connectivity – Air Arabia
Jaipur, Nagpur, Trivandrum, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Kochi – some of the names I heard in boarding announcements while waiting for boarding my midnight flight from Sharjah airport. It almost felt like I am at a domestic terminal and flying a domestic airline. I later figured out that Air Arabia flies to 13 different cities in India and 88 different cities across Gulf, Middle East, Africa, India, Russia & Eastern Europe.
13 Indian Cities that Air Arabia flies to are – Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Goa, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Calicut, Kochi, Trivandrum. Coimbatore & Chennai.
You have to live in a small town to know the joy of having a direct flight from your city. We waste a day on either side for an international flight. For me it is a tiring exercise to sit at the airports or airport lounges – there is nothing much you can do. Your body is screaming for some rest.
While looking at the coverage of Air Arabia – I figured out quite a few destinations on my wish list that they fly to. Since, for me, flying with them means taking one less flight and saving a lot of time & money, I know I am going to fly them more often.
Hubs of Air Arabia
Being a budget airline, Air Arabia follows a hub & spoke model for its operations.
Sharjah is, of course, the master hub for them. Other smaller hubs include Ras-al-Khaima, Amman in Jordan, Alexandria in Egypt & Casablanca in Morocco. They are probably the only airline to have 2 hubs in their home country – UAE.
Air Arabia – A budget Airline
Air Arabia is a budget airline and uses A320 planes. The seating is 3X3 but there were ample leg space and the seats were not at all cramped.
Being a value airline, the ticket you buy comes with no check-in luggage allowance though you can still carry 10 kg as hand luggage. You can buy the 20 kg check-in luggage allowance for just AED 10 i.e. roughly Rs 200/-. For more than 20 kgs, you can buy 30 Kgs luggage allowance for AED 100.
Flying from Goa was a delight. It is a small airport with limited international flights. I had checked in online, so I only needed to drop my baggage. It took me less than 10 minutes to do it. Immigration took 10-12 minutes – there were about 15 people ahead of me. The lines moved swiftly. There were a lot of tourists who were returning using Air Arabia. I, as an Indian, was in the minority. Boarding was quick and we landed in Sharjah before time.
For more information, do check out their website.
Read More – My first impressions of Sharjah
My flight had no in-flight entertainment unit on the seat. There were some panels hanging – I only saw the flight announcements and safety instructions. Safety video used children as instructors – which was kind of cute.
My vegetarian meals were pre-booked on the flight. On the Goa-Sharjah flight, I got two Masala Dosas with Chutney & a cup of tea. There was no water provided, although it was available to buy. On my Sharjah-Goa Air Arabia flight, I got vegetarian Biryani and the portion was quite large. I managed to finish only half of it. Biryani came with a bottle of water. My personal opinion is that water should be provided to passengers. Probably comes from my Indian sensibilities.
Air Arabia staff was quite professional yet friendly. No, they had no idea that I would be writing this review, so I was treated like any other passenger – which is how I like it.
Everything in the flight went smoothly.
The immigration queues at Sharjah Airport were long and I had to stand in a queue almost for an hour. Surprisingly, Sharjah airport had no free wi-fi connectivity for passengers. At the departure terminal, it was available for 25 AED for half an hour, but at arrival, I did not see any such possibility. Sharjah airport is one of the simpler airports I have seen though a lot of things are automated like an automated immigration on departure – all you have to do is a Retina Scan.
Overall, besides my joy of direct connectivity, my experience of flying with Air Arabia was pleasant.
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