Aircraft swap nightmare: Flydubai in economy and business class

Jun 24, 2022

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Flydubai is a low-cost carrier owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates and provides competition to the UAE’s other major airlines, Emirates and Etihad. The airline operates from Dubai to 102 destinations across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.

In 2017 Emirates signed a codeshare agreement with Flydubai, allowing passengers of both airlines to book seamless travel on the two carriers, giving them dozens more convenient travel options. With Emirates an incredibly popular airline among our readers, we wanted to see how Flydubai would compare to its bigger aviation brothers.

We planned to fly on the newer Boeing 737-MAX sporting modern lie-flat seats in business class and comfortable seats in economy.

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It was not to be.

Although we booked on the 737-MAX, a last-minute aircraft swap meant the five-hour-and-48-minute flight was actually operated by an 8-year-old Boeing 737-800 from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW). On this particular flight, Liam was assigned business class and Nicky flew in economy.

As the video highlights, an aircraft swap can lead to a significantly worse cabin configuration with outdated seating, particularly in business class.

Watch the full video below:

Need more? Read on for a breakdown of our individual experiences aboard Flydubai’s Boeing 737-800.

Economy — Nicky Kelvin

Seat: 6F.
We paid: 700 pounds (about $856).

It was a great experience flying out of Dubai Airport’s Terminal 3 on what is a low-cost-leaning airline. Not all Flydubai flights depart this terminal, so I was lucky to have more of a full “Emirates-style” experience on the ground.

The service on board was friendly, the food and beverage offerings were sufficient and complimentary options were offered.

It wasn’t all great, though. There were long queues to check in and a remote gate was used. That was before the long and hot coach journey to the aircraft, with a prolonged wait at the bottom of the stairs before we were allowed to board.

The aircraft swap meant I was left with a hard, uncomfortable, older seat lacking in modern inflight entertainment and charging.

Business class — Liam Spencer

Seat: 1C.
We paid: 1,353 pounds (about $1,654).

My Flydubai business ticket came with access to the Emirates Business Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport. The space was enormous and included multiple dining options along with a Champagne bar.

The food served on board was extremely tasty. I opted for the grilled fish steak with potatoes and spinach, followed by an apple crumble with honey-infused cream. This was the only part of the onboard experience that felt premium, though.

The aircraft swap meant I was given a dated and less comfortable seat. I had no privacy whatsoever and the seat itself felt far more like a premium economy product. I was expecting a throne seat with a lie-flat bed and this couldn’t have been further from what I received.

In addition, the inflight entertainment screen was fairly small and slow. There was no amenity kit to speak of. I only received a bottle of water, a pillow and an economy-level blanket. This was disappointing for a six-hour flight costing more than a thousand pounds.

Featured image by The Points Guy.

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