Trip Report – Air Arabia SHJ-BOM on a Airbus A320 (Summer 2007)
Hello everyone, since this is my first trip report, let me introduce myself. My name is Aditya Shankar, I am from India (but I have never actually lived in India for more than 6 months). I lived in Dubai for 10 years and now I am currently studying at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Growing up, I used to live very close to the Bangalore HAL airport (back then the international airport) so the sound of airplanes taking off and landing was my alarm clock. Many family members on my mother’s side worked in the aviation industry and with this kind of exposure, it was no surprise that I developed a love towards aviation at a young age.
Since this was back in 2007, lemme remind you that I used use a very basic camera (Fujifilm F460), so the quality of the pictures might not be up to the mark. I got serious about photography around the summer of 2009 when I picked up my first SLR, a Canon EOS 1000D/Rebel XS (which I still use). Hopefully by the end of 2013, I should upgrade to an advanced model.
Since my mother works for Emirates, I usually end up flying Emirates most of the time. I like the airline but I wanted a change, so my dad and I thought of flying a different airline. We chose the new (back then) and growing budget airline- Air Arabia. I was pretty excited because first, I was flying a different airline. Secondly, I was traveling through SHJ airport after a long time, and finally I couldn’t wait to meet my cousins.
June 16th 2007
(I sadly couldn’t obtain the aircraft registration)
I arrived at SHJ airport and boy was I stunned with their transformation, gone were the old concrete façade and in its place was a modern glass building. The airport inside was still small and a lot of spaces near the departure gates were fenced out for construction. But overall, it had a nice modern touch to it. We checked in early so we had a lot of time in our hands. I picked up a coffee and took a stroll around the airport gates. The best part was, at the end of the terminal, there was a huge window facing the runway and I spent some time looking at the aircraft movement – until the departure announcement.
The gate was in the ‘new’ part of the terminal, so it was through an aerobridge. The last time I flew through SHJ, I flew Indian Airlines to BLR and due to the lack of gates, the aircraft was parked at the remote bay. This meant we had to take a bus to the aircraft, (imagine being late for a flight in this situation :P). Anyway boarding was uneventful and fast. As I entered the aircraft, I was greeted by two flight attendants who directed me to my seat. To my left, the cockpit door was open and the pilots were going through their pre-flight procedures. I got to my seat (If I am not mistaken, it was 6B) and my dad was on 6C. A very nice woman who was sitting at 6A, the window seat, saw my enthusiasm and my camera and offered me her seat (Thank you!!! 😀 ).
Having flown in an A320 countless times before (mostly with Indian Airlines), the interior was quite the same, a single aisle aircraft with a 3-3 row configuration. After settling down in my seat, the flight attendants handed us our complimentary water bottle and went on with the pre-flight announcements. Everything went on schedule and soon we were up in the air.
The seats were very spacious and I actually sat ‘comfortably’ (I am 5’11’’ and I have long legs) so even though I am not very tall, I need a lot of space to accommodate my legs. I was never comfortable on Emirates as the seat pitch was small. I have flown Emirates on their long-haul flights to Australia, US and Canada, and I was never comfortable in their economy class. So, a good seat pitch on a budget airline was a welcoming change. There were no PTVs on each seat, but they showed a movie on a common screen (the headphones could be purchased onboard). The inflight magazine was both in English and Arabic and my favourite section in it was at the end, where passengers talk about their experience with Air Arabia and how the low prices meant they could meet their families more often.
Being a ‘no frills’ airline, there was no food served but they could be bought on board (BOB)!!! I was impressed with the onboard menu, there was a variety of sandwiches, noodles and also an Asian Vegetarian meal (AVML). This was accompanied by a range of non-alcoholic drinks, tea and coffee. I bought an AVML and noodles as Mumbai was not my last stop. There was an onward journey (by road) to Pune. Back in 2007, Air India Express hadn’t started their direct connection from Dubai to Pune, so this was the only way to get there.
The aircraft was well maintained. However on this flight, the seat my dad sat on had some melted chocolate on the seatbelt :O We informed the flight attendant, and she just put some tissue paper on the messed area. Apart from that Air Arabia was definitely above my expectations of a budget airline. They had everything required during the trip (some of them for a small fee of course) namely; in flight magazines, inflight entertainment, good food, which was heated before being served and above all, comfortable seating with a good seat pitch. I would not hesitate to fly with Air Arabia again.
So, that was my first trip report. Again I apologize for not noting the aircraft registration. Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoyed the report and do feel free to comment.
Until my next report……Happy landings!!!