DALLAS — The largest aviation gathering in the Middle East, the 2023 edition of the Dubai Airshow, is just one day away. This event will bring together airlines, manufacturers, media, and potential customers from around the world to unveil the latest developments and announcements in the commercial, private, and military aviation markets.
With over 1,400 exhibitors and an expected attendance of more than 80,000 visitors from various backgrounds, there has been a significant increase in traffic to Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates. Passengers from all continents have considered various travel options to reach Dubai International Airport (DXB).
While flying with UAE flag carrier Emirates (EK) is the most popular choice among visitors to the airshow, Airways presents an alternative experience with FlyDubai (FZ), its sister airline that focuses on destinations in Europe, Asia, and Africa, operating a fleet of full-Boeing 737 aircraft.
To get to the Dubai Airshow 2023, we have chosen Milan-Bergamo Airport (BGY) as the starting point. BGY is one of the five cities FZ serves in Italy and offers a potentially more affordable option compared to the Emirates’ twice-daily service from Malpensa Airport (MXP). Additionally, choosing BGY allows passengers to have a more comfortable and less crowded journey from Italy’s second-largest city.
The Bergamo Business Class Experience
Milan-Bergamo Airport, the second-largest airport in the city, is renowned for its popularity among low-cost European carriers. It serves as one of the largest bases for Ryanair (FR) on the continent and has a significant presence of other low-cost carriers, such as WizzAir (W6). Interestingly, FZ is currently the only airline that offers regular business-class flights from this airport.
As business-class passengers on the airline, our ticket includes access to the Hellosky Lounge. We had the opportunity to experience the peaceful and relaxing atmosphere of the lounge. While the food and beverage options were standard and not particularly diverse, the comfortable seating and quiet environment made it conducive for passengers to work or wait for their boarding time.
Flight FZ1572 departs from Bergamo Airport at 22:55 local time and arrives at DXB at 08:10 the following day, also local time. These flights are operated by Boeing 737-8 aircraft, which are available in two different configurations.
The specific aircraft assigned to our flight, registered as A6-FKE, features a two-class layout with 162 economy-class seats and 12 business-class seats arranged in a 2-2 configuration.
A Seat with a Nearly Flat Recline
Upon first glance, the Business Class seat is impressive and lives up to expectations. The staggered configuration of the seats in the same row provides enhanced privacy while still maintaining a comfortable flow for passengers. The legroom is generous, and the seat itself is spacious.
However, it’s important to note that the 2-2 layout in the Boeing 737-8 does not offer a lie-flat bed in Business Class. In the redesign of the premium cabin, FZ made the decision to forgo this significant feature on long-haul flights in exchange for a small increase in capacity, adding just two more business-class seats.
Despite this, the recline function on the new cabin allows for a comfortable position, enabling passengers to rest during long journeys.
FlyDubai offers an inflight entertainment system with a 1080p 15.6-inch screen. The selection of films is extensive, encompassing not only American movies but also Arabic, Russian, Israeli, and Indian films. However, it’s worth noting that only a few titles were new or recently premiered in cinemas.
Missing Features on Board
In terms of additional features, alongside the 15.6-inch screen, there is one USB port and another USB-C port for charging devices. Additionally, there is a Bluetooth wireless headphones connector, which is a unique feature that enhances the inflight experience, allowing passengers to connect their headphones and enjoy a movie-like atmosphere.
If passengers do not have their own headphones, FZ also offers noise-canceling headphones that can be connected to the Inflight Entertainment (IFE) system on the left side of the seat.
However, the biggest drawback is the absence of Wi-Fi service. Unfortunately, there is no option to purchase Wi-Fi, and although the flight crew and maintenance have connectivity, passengers are not permitted to remain connected during the flight. Given the advancements in technology and the relatively young age of the aircraft, this absence of Wi-Fi on our FZ flight is quite disappointing.
On the other hand, storage space within this seat is extremely limited. There is minimal room available for storing personal documents, and finding a secure spot for a laptop or personal item is challenging, as there is no space under the seat in front.
Good Meal Selection, Fresh Products
During the boarding process, the flight crew offered a welcome drink with three options: apple juice, orange juice, and water. Approximately 15 minutes after takeoff, hot towels and dinner menus were distributed to passengers. These were the available main meal options for the Bergamo-to-Dubai route:
- Chicken Crépe: A creamy herbed chicken filling wrapped in a delicate crépe, served with fresh broccoli and carrots
- Prawn Linguine: Linguine pasta served with prawns in a rich tomato sauce and accompanied by sugar snap peas
- Mushroom Risotto: A flavorful mushroom risotto made with cauliflower rice and served alongside fresh green beans
The dinner service began with a small bag of peanuts and a choice of beverage. The main meal was then served, accompanied by a garden salad and a chocolate cake for dessert. The food impressed me with its excellent texture, taste, and notable freshness of the ingredients.
Arrival at Dubai International Airport
Following a total block flight time of 05:40 hours, our flight FZ1572 landed at DXB on runway 30L. After taxiing to the western ramp near Terminal 3, we disembarked the aircraft and were transported by bus to the business class concourse for customs clearance, utilizing the Emirates fast-track facilities.
Although FlyDubai is technically based at Dubai’s Terminal 2, due to limited space, certain flights, particularly those with a significant number of Business Class passengers, operate out of Terminal 3, which is Emirates’ main hub.
Consequently, customers have the privilege of enjoying all the premium services provided by the parent carrier, including fast-track customs and security procedures, as well as access to the expansive Emirates Business Class lounge at this concourse.
What are your impressions of the FlyDubai Business Class experience? Were you expecting these services from the sister airline of Emirates? We would love to hear your thoughts on our social media platforms and stay tuned for the latest news and announcements expected to be revealed at the 2023 Dubai Airshow.
Featured image: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways