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flydubai vs Air Arabia

Not all budget carriers were created equal.

 

Flydubai flies to nine destinations from Dubai: Beirut, Amman, Damascus, Alexandria, Aleppo, Djibouti, Doha, Khartoum and Baku. There are plans for more destinations within a four and a half hour radius of Dubai, but they haven't been announced yet. Give them it time, the airline has been operating for less than six months.

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The airline has two hubs, one in Sharjah and another in Casablanca. Since we're looking at flights from the UAE, we're focusing solely on flights from Sharjah for this Brand to Brand article.

Air Arabiya from Sharjah flies to 48 destinations, including Aleppo, Syria, Chennai, India and Athens, Greece.

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The price of a ticket on flydubai is inclusive of a 10kg carry-on, but if you need to take substantial luggage with you, you'll have to pay an additional AED40 for a suitcase weighing up to 32kg. It's an addition AED100 for a second bag. We called the service center to ask if passengers could take a third bag, but the call attendant could understand the question. We'll leave it up to you to find out.

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The price of your ticket is inclusive of one suitcase weighing no more than 30kg, in addition to one carry-on no larger than 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. The airline does not specify the maximum weight of the hand baggage on its website.

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Terminal 2 is nowhere near as glamorous as Terminals 1 and 3. The terminal is small, not as crowded, and boasts a handful of shops and eateries. It's clean, but it's nothing special.

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Sharjah International Airport has recently had a facelift, but in spite of all the shiny chrome and the marble, it remains a down market affair. The restaurants look dismal, the waiting area is overwhelmed with men and women sleeping everywhere and the toilets double as shower stalls (we're not kidding).

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There is no entertainment, and the carrier intends to keep it as simple as possible to keep costs down. There isn't even a common TV screen. There is only a 'Shop Dubai' magazine that contains the duty free shopping brochure and the food menu.

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Air Arabia shows a selection of Egyptian and Indian movies or sitcoms on its common television screens. The movies are nothing to get excited about, but they're better than nothing.

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With Christmas and New Year's Eve fast approaching, UAE residents are scrambling to get good deals on flights. Since we're planning on going to Beirut, we checked out the airline's fare to the Lebanese capital: a return flight to Beirut, leaving Dubai on December 24 and returning on January 2 costs AED1,690, excluding checked baggage. Not bad.

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A return flight to Beirut, leaving Sharjah on December 24 and returning on January 2 costs AED2,424. Whatever happened to paying less and flying more?

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Applying for a visa for a relative can be a costly affair. Kipp recently shelled out over AED700 for a month long visa for a relative (in addition to putting a AED1,000 deposit), and it hurt. If you buy a ticket on flydubai for a relative, however, you can apply for a visa through their office. You'll need a sponsorship letter, a salary of at least AED4,500, a photo of your relative, a copy of their passport, a completed application and a ticket on flydubai. It takes three to four working days to process the visa, and it costs AED295 for a month long entry permit.

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You can apply for a visa for a friend or relative through Air Arabia, but the process is convoluted. The following are the requirements: a salary certificate; a copy of your passport (your residency visa must be valid for at least six months); a photocopy of your labor card (must be valid for at least six months); a cash deposit of AED2,500 and a cheque deposit of AED5,000 per person (both are refundable); a copy of your labor contract; a trade license (if you have one); a copy of your marriage certificate (for a visa for your spouse); two photos of your guest; your guest's passport copy; a completed application; and a fee (although we can't figure what it is because it isn't written anywhere on Air Arabia's website and no one's picking up at the call center).

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Air Arabia wins, despite its extortionate prices. Since when did a budget airline charge so much for a short-haul flight?

 

9 Comments

  1. Abhilash on November 29, 2009 9:19 am

    I got 2 persons return flight ticket to india (Trivandrum) on Air Arabia costs AED 1550 only.

     
  2. Juby Kuruvilla on November 30, 2009 5:06 am

    Air arabia is operating very professionally , they keep the time , good service . I havent get the chance to fly in flydubai because they are not operating to Kerala

     
  3. Nabeel Al Wazzan on November 30, 2009 10:21 am

    I'd rather fly Jazeera, however Emirates is still a great carrier, and to Lebanon, I would choose MEA with its elegant A330s or new A320s. They have nice programs on board, good menus and beautiful hostesses

     
  4. John J on December 1, 2009 7:31 am

    I have tried both…Air Arabia has got the destinations….but the seats are cramped…and u feel and experience low cost flying…. On the other hand, I was on Fly Dubai yesterday….amazing on-board service…lotsa leg space…and u feel you are on a premium airline…juts u need to pay for your food and drinks!! :)

     
  5. Abdul Rasheed on December 8, 2009 5:31 am

    I like Air Arabia for multiple reasons, Air Arabia is operating very professionally, and they are punctual, good service too. … Moreover the prayer ( Dua) just before the departure is giving me more pleasure and safe journey- Thanks to the Managements and keep it up.

     
  6. Zuz on December 14, 2009 11:26 am

    I haven't tried fly dubai … but will think alot before considering it because they have to many hidden cost and policies. Air Arabia … tried it - one of my favorites budget airline ( compared to Bahrain Air & Jazeera aiways) one cost including everything except food and away you go !!

     
  7. Anand Nair on December 21, 2009 7:02 am

    Its Air Arabia. !! Who Set the standards in the industry, pioneer in LCC and the CEO with his team had set bench-marks, resulted in happy share holders , else fly dubai would not have followed suit.

     
  8. naj on December 22, 2009 9:47 am

    i have tried both and , although both are reasonable, i would vote for flydubai for being on time, in addition to the brand new machines and more freindly staff and lower cost overall. very good choice for a weekend get away. i just bought my beirut ticket for 310 AED all inclusive after new year! is nt it awesome fare?

     
  9. naji on December 22, 2009 9:54 am

    nabeel, i agree with you, the MEA 330s are gorgeous but what about the bad attitude of the hostesses on MEA? they make me feel they own the company or they are taking me for free.. i have heard that from many people already so my best pick to lebanon and to everywhere else would be…… Emirates…

     

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