Video Report Air Arabia - Mumbai to Urumqi via Sharjah - G9407 & G9270 Background
The next part of this trip was for me to get reunited with my wife and my in-laws in the northern part of the old silk route in Urumqi. It is not a well traversed route and didn’t have too many options to choose from.
Looking at the time and convenience the Air Arabia option, via Sharjah, seemed the best bet. It did mean that, I had leave to the airport at an odd hour, given my flight departure time of 04:55.
Never been on Air Arabia before and had not heard too much about them - good or bad. I reckon they are quite mediocre, but given they are in competition with the big ME carries, this may not be all that bad.
I opted for the one above the 'Basic' ticket which was 20 AED more for food (Sandwich and water) and a generous 30 Kilo check in baggage allowance.
This is the fourth installment in this series of reports.
1. Virgin (on a rare A340-600) to Dubai -> for a quick 7 hour catch up friends
2. and then onward to Bengaluru on Jet Airways via Mumbai
3. India Domestic -> Bengaluru to Mumbai
4. A strange routing -> Mumbai to Urumqi with Air Arabia via Sharjah!
5. Urumqi to Bishkek on Air Astana via Astana.
6. Finally return back to London from Bishkek on Turkish via Istanbul
Thanks to GCMap.com (My entire trip routing)
Routing for this trip report Air Arabia - G9407 & G9270
Route: BOM - SHJ - URC
Flight Reg:A6-AOT; Delivered to Air Arabia on Aug 2017
A6-AOH; Delivered to Air Arabia on March 2015
Aircraft Type: Airbus 320-200
Seat: 22A, 5F
Flight time: 04:55 - 06:20 (06:32 - 07:31) 09:15 - 18:10 (09:31 - 17:50)
Actual flight time: 2Hr 29min & 4Hr 19 Min
Distance: 1190 and 2204 Miles
Load: 100% load and 111 Passengers on the URC flight.
Price: AED 1900 (~£368) (Airarabia.com)
31st Aug 2018
My Log book: 1st & 2nd flight on Air Arabia / 41st & 42nd flight on Airbus 320-200/ 172nd and 173rd Total overall flight
Online checking in the previous day : "If you are flying from Sharjah, online check-in will be open 24 hours prior to departure. If your departure is from other airports, online check-in will be open 12 hours prior to departure time."
Checked in 6 hours before the flight. It worked well and seamless.
At the airport baggage drop was strictly been monitored for online check in passengers which I thought was quite good. Got to know that I am the only passenger from here connecting to Urumqi. Also been told that flight delayed due to delayed incoming flight.
Immigration and security were fairly quick. Once at the duty free Area, had about 3 hours before departure.
Walked around seeing the beautiful walls at the airport. I have a lot of content in my video. Then found a quiet spot near gate 45 and snoozed for a couple of hours.
The aircraft finally landed at 5 30 with boarding commencing by 5 45 and complete at 06 10.
Beautiful Mumbai Airport
Check in desks for Air Arabia
Duty Free at BOM
The beautiful 'Wall' at BOM
The 'Other Wall'
Plane Spotting at BOM
Trying out the 'Rubbish' Loyalty lounge
Heading towards the gate
At the gates
Our ride to SHJ - A year old A320-200 First impressions.
Aircraft was very clean and smelled fresh. Crew on board were a bit grumpy but I soon realised it was due to the type of passengers on-board this aircraft. Quite a few low wages and low skilled workers onboard. They were quite unfamiliar with the concept of flying. To be fair to the crew, they helped where possible and were very proactive.
Air Arabia ground staff (operated by NAS) seem to be a capable bunch at Mumbai airport. They did manage to turn around the aircraft in about 40 minutes. Announcements were made in Hindi, Arabic and English.
Not much in terms of announcements from the cockpit. And IFE was non-existent expect for the just for gags playing in a loop on the overhead monitors.
Rest of the flight was uneventful and slept for an hour or so before landing. One of the smoothest landing I've ever experienced. Did not realise when the wheels hit the tarmac. Complemented the pilot.
On board the aircraft
Neighbours at BOM
Great leg space
Reading material on board
View from my seat
Plane spotting during taxiing - Air Mauritius - A340-300
Taking off from BOM
Cabin view after take off
Descending into UAE
Where does this road lead to?
Remote stand parking at SHJ
Being Bussed to the terminal Transit in Sharjah
The worst transit experience by far. No signage, lack of information, rude staff, confused passengers, missed connections, no Wi-Fi, no shopping, nothing to eat and drink. Need I say more? Glad my first flight was delayed so even lesser time for me to remain in this abomination they call an airport. More rants about my transit experience in my video. It was no wonder I was asked not to shoot any videos as it would be evident that would only be a negative video.
Boarding commenced 45 minutes before departure. And in true Chinese style a stampede commenced. Kudos to the ground staff to manage the crowd to the best of their ability.
The boarding gates, keeping in theme with the airport, made no sense. Gate 20,6 and 21 grouped together. What?!?!?!
Anyways, post boarding gates and passport checks, we were boxed into a waiting area for 10 minutes before being herded onto a bus to our remote stand aircraft.
The solitary Duty free shop
At Gates 21-6-20
Waiting area for Gate 21
Upon entering the aircraft had a chat with the very approachable and professional lead purser, Ayesha. The crew do a return trip on the same day with an hour halt in Urumqi. Isn't that above the legal limit? That's a 2 x 5 hour block time flight. I was surprised. What surprised me even more was that a flight to China, with 95% Chinese tourists, the crew could not converse in Mandarin!! Only English, Arabic, Urdu and Korean!
This flight gets interesting by the minute.
Flight time of 4 hours and 16 minutes was announced by the captain.
Our ride to URC
Boarding in the sweltering heat
The first 4 rows of this flight is for an extra charge and I am not sure why. However, since they were vacant, the Chinese tourists were trying to hog them and were constantly told to go back to their respective seats. This is going to be fun. Lol.
The excitement started as soon as the flight took off and even before the seat belt signs were off, one of the passengers bolted towards row 4. Urgh. When will they learn.
There was supposed to be Wi-Fi streaming on board. But for some reason it wasn't working on my android phone. However, my neighbour, who had an iPhone, it seemed to be working well.
My neighbour was a lovely Chinese lady who was the tour leader of one of the 3 tour groups on board. She was a great neighbour to have giving me insight of their tour. She was well prepared with her food items and it had a lot of items to eat. Hers was a 38 member group for a 13 day tour across Moscow and Dubai. All flight via Sharjah on air Arabia. Being the leader of the tour group, her booking included a meal which she was kind enough to give me as she already had more than what she could eat. Bless her. Zhang nam was her name.
Post take off and after reaching cruising altitude, the crew sprang into action serving us food and drinks. My chicken sandwich which I had pre ordered was a bit rubbish but the meal given to me by Zhang was very good.
Meal on this sector
Post lunch I went in for a nap for an hour.
After waking up was chatting with the super friendly crew and had a very good experience speaking to them. It's quite a tough route for them given the time frame so a bit of friendly banter was a welcome break for them. Spoke to them about their future A321 neo routing, their work culture and other bits and pieces. They seem to be a very friendly group and seemed to have the right chemistry working as the unit. More on them in my video.
They also shared the secret of how to access the sky time Wi-Fi on an android device. You got to access it via Google chrome.
SkyTime worked well
With the lovely crew on board
Rest of the flight was uneventful in the nicest possible way and we landed 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
Exiting Urumqi airport is quite an interesting experience. It was unique in 2 ways, 1. For a Chinese airport, the staff were extremely polite and spoke very good English and 2. this might be the airport with the most intense security I had experienced. Numerous passport checks and I even had an IRIS scanner, not sure the purpose of that. As a matter of fact, security throughout Urumqi seems to be a bit OTT. Asking for my id when I enter malls, as an example.
Tien Shen Mountains near Urumqi
Parked at URC
Thank you Air Arabia for a great flight
Arrivals at URC
Baggage collection at URC
Exiting the airport Verdict
I think air Arabia is a true LCC product on board. Even water is not served for free and must be bought. And they only accept credit card for more than 10 AED which is inconvenient. That being said, their hard product is very good. Exceptional leg space, 30 kilos baggage allowance and comfortable and clean aircrafts. Their sky team Wi-Fi service is an added bonus on slightly longer sectors.
Their soft product is between very good to exceptional. Had a very good experience with the crew and time flew by.
Overall would gladly fly with Air Arabia in the future. I would just have a bottle of water with me.
Thanks for reading and hope you liked this section of the report. A few more in the pipeline to end this series.
Until then happy and safe flying, adios!