Dubai trip with FlyDubai: My Experience, Review

I’d never flown FlyDubai before. It is a budget airline, started in July 2008 by the Dubai Government. FlyDubai is said to be greatly supported by Big Brother Emirates Airline. Recently I got to fly them and this post shares my experience.

Dubai was on my radar since long. But the return tickets were in the range of 15-20k whenever I checked, so I had to keep Dubai on back-burner. (in 20k I can go all the way to Japan/Australia or Beijing and come back, so it wasn’t making sense to spend so much to go to Dubai which is just 4 hours away.

Recently while scanning on FlyDubai’s website, I spotted a return ticket for 12000 INR, which was really tempting. So without much thoughts, I booked  a quick trip.

Booking process was smooth, but there was one trick I noticed- while there was an offer which includes 20kg baggage and slightly cheaper rate, website defaults it to regular fare which is bit expensive and doesn’t include check in bag. One should be careful to select best deal. Besides the amount shown on website, a convenience fee of Rs 350 was added. It will be fair if Flydubai can default to cheapest fare- else many would miss out on the free luggage and few rupees cheaper special offer.
While AirAsia allows web check-in 14 days prior to travel, flyDubai opens web check in only 24 hours prior. but I could select a window seat in row 7 without paying extra during web checkin- most airlines charge for seat selection these days- including jet airways, except for some seats in the back or middle.

FlyDubai Add-Ons
20kg bag costs around Rs 1400 one way. This amount is at par with what Air Asia charges for same weight. But as stated above, keep an eye for special fare which includes free baggage.

Meals:
Meals are to be bought at extra cost as FlyDubai is low cost airline. Prices are reasonable- refer in-flight menu images below. But meals cost between Rs 400 to 600. (Air Asia offers pre-booked meals for Rs 200 approx)
Above: Pre-book options
Below: Menu inflight

Airport Experience
In Chennai FlyDubai operates from one of the cheapest gates- in old terminal. In Dubai FlyDubai operates from Terminal 2, which is budget terminal. No complaints- service was standard and decent.

At Chennai airport a staffer was cross checking if passengers have collected right bags or not. Good.

Flight Experience
I walked in to the gate after few minutes of boarding commencing. There were 3 rows- I wasn't clear which row is for which zone/seat numbers. Usually airlines place a placard announcing the same. Anyway I sat for few more minutes and joined one of the queue when only few more people were left.

Quick look at Business Class Seats


Economy seats were fine- nothing to complain. Check this post for FlyDubai's new 737 Max 8 Aircraft Economy and Business Class seats.

Leg room was Ok. The entertainment is chargeable. There's a credit card swiping slot for you to pay and use. WiFi is also available for purchase- USD 10 for whole flight. However I couldn't shut down the entertainment screen-it wasn't responding to any touch or buttons. Not sure if I missed something- having the white screen glaring at me was an irritation.

I slept through during most of the journey as it was an early morning flight.


There were some allegations on the net that FlyDubai and Emirates staff are overworked and underpaid- while I didn't dare asking a direct question to the crew, from what I observed they were comfortably relaxed and didn't appear stressed.

In Dubai, FlyDubai Operates from terminal 2, which is not the most luxurious. But it was closer to my relative’s house, so lot more convenient for me.

Upon arrival, Emirates displays status of various connecting flights. No such info was shared in FlyDubai.

Safety:
In its 9 years of operation, FlyDubai had only 1 major crash and full body loss- in Russia, during May 2016. Otherwise airline has a decent safety record.
In India FlyDubai flies to Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Kochi, Delhi and Lucknow. Some airports like Chennai, get only 3 flights per week, not daily. This is the reason sometimes FlyDubai will not even appear as an option if you check on MakeMytrip. Check directly on FlyDubai website for better deal.

Visa Assistance:
Fly Dubai can process your Dubai Visa if you've booked your tickets with them. The fee was INR 5750. We had to go to their office in mount road with lots of documents, but processing was quick and we got visa the second day. This fee is a bit cheaper than what other agencies charge, but you'll have to physically go to their office whereas others like Musafir can process it completely online.

Loyalty point: I got some 766 reward points for my Chennai-Dubai return trip. Now the struggle will be to redeem it before it expires. OPEN members get extra 5% off, as per their website.

On-time performance: My onward flight had a minor delay-15-20 minutes, return flight was perfectly on-time. Even if take off is delayed by a few minutes, pilots usually make it up in flight time, by flying a bit faster. As per flightstats website, FlyDubai Chennai- Dubai flight never had a major delay or cancellation.
FlyDubai flies to a total of 104 destinations worldwide. Their fares marginally cheaper than full service airlines. Though I don’t find their fares as attractive as AirAsia, I will keep an eye on FlyDubai for a few possible trips to Middle east/Africa/Europe destinations. Stay tuned to Airlineblog to follow the latest deals and updates, so that you can travel for lot lesser.

Damaged bag Experience:
This happened with a friend of mine, Rutavi Mehta who runs Photokatha.in while flying Mumbai-Dubai on FlyDubai recently. Her bag was delayed at the terminal on arrival and finally when it was delivered, it was in damaged condition. Refer photos below. As of now airline hasn't offered any explanation or compensation for the damage.
Update: In this case FlyDubai facebook team has responded to the concern and we hope to see compensation materializing soon.

Update 2: FlyDubai has provided a new bag of same brand and slightly smaller size, hence we consider the issue resolved.

A bag changes many hands while it flies to its destination- check in counter staff, baggage handlers at origin airport, transit airport (if applicable) and destination airport, security & customs officials and so on. It is hard to pin the blame on specific team, though we expect airlines to be overall responsible. Most airlines won't have any compensation policy for delayed/damaged bags- passengers should factor the possible abuse the bag will go through- be sure to select a sturdy bag, ask for fragile sticker to be added or get it bubble wrapped for added safety. Travel insurance also helps.

It was great to see their lineup of 737s at Dubai Airport's terminal 2. Overall it was a good experience I would say. Though I wish they take me much longer distance for less, given that FlyDubai has cheaper access to fuel. (Air Asia can take me all the way to Japan n back in 20k- wish Flybai can do the same- may be to Russia or somewhere in Europe/Africa n back. Best I've seen is Chennai-Egypt for 24k return. I am sure they can do lot better. If I can spot similar cheap deals I will make few more trips. 
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Check these photos of Dubai from air, clicked from my Window Seat

6 comments:

  1. helpful informative post, your travel diary thanks for sharing with us

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great that you managed the tickets.
    Dubai is in my list. Hope to visit by next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. They have flights from Hyderabad- you can try... Dubai has many events and exhibitions all through the year- you can try attending a few

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