Awful Air Arabia



Would I fly with them again?

Not unless I had no other option.


Air Arabia logo

Air Arabia is a budget airline headquartered in UAE. You would think anything that comes out of UAE might be halfway decent, but that wouldn’t be a safe assumption. I paid just under $100 for my one-way ticket from Frankfurt to Marrakesh.

Once I arrived at the Frankfurt Airport via the S-bahn, it took a while to get to Terminal 2. You have to walk through the shopping area in the station to Terminal 1, then take the Skyline train to Terminal 2. (I had no idea where my flight was since the Air Arabia website wasn’t showing any flights from Frankfurt to Marrakesh on the day of.) But once I found my booking confirmation, it did say T2 on it, as well as the fact that they open for checking in three hours prior to departure: so early!

After reaching the terminal, I went to check-in area D, thanks to a sign with a list of airlines on it. Another informational sign there listed all the check-in counter numbers for each departing flight. At the counter, only one person was ahead of me, so the wait was minimal. The staff member asked for my seat preference, and she didn’t weigh my backpack, perhaps because their weight allowance is so high (10kg), and they also allow one free checked bag of 15kg. Hardly anyone was at passport control, and I was helped immediately. The guy asked me when I entered Germany, but I don’t have a stamp from that since I took a train from Czech Republic. He did find a stamp for entering the Schengen area at the end of August, so he stamped my passport to indicate my exit.

My boarding pass had gate D52 printed on it, which was a long walk from D1. The airport seemed like a ghost town back there. One airport officer was standing in front of the last few gates in the concourse, but he told me that the Marrakech flight had been moved to D1. That was fast. I walked back towards D1 but camped out in the leisure area where there were a bunch of power outlets. To my dismay, the first six outlets I tried did not actually have any power coming out of them. I ended up sitting next to a guy on his plugged-in laptop before finding one that did work. The wifi is not so great for uploading, though.

An hour before our scheduled departure, I heard the airport announce that all passengers on my flight should go to D2. Yet another gate change… The security check was for gates D1-4, and they wanted laptops, tablets, and liquids out, as well as empty pockets. I had to walk through a full-body scanner, then get the most thorough pat-down in my life. Finally, they took out almost every individual bag inside my backpack so that I could repack them. Fun. At least it wasn’t as bad as the Athens security officers who took individual items out.

After waiting a few minutes at the gate, they announced that we could start boarding and that a shuttle would be taking us to the plane. It was about 30 minutes before departure before we reached it. I suppose there must have been a second shuttle because a small mob of people boarded the plane about 15 minutes before departure. We took off on time, and there was some kind of Arabic prayer to wish for Allah’s blessing for a safe flight after the safety video, which was given by children dressed in crew uniforms.

Arabic on the seats

The man who sat next to me seemed a creepy. When I crossed my legs towards him, he poked the bottom of my right shoe for no apparent reason. The crew didn’t hand out water to the passengers: they seemed to only be selling food and drink. I didn’t have a menu, so I had no idea what anything cost. But what airline sells water? Needless to say, there were absolutely no seat amenities like entertainment or power. At least they didn’t charge for the customs form you need to fill out upon arrival in Morocco. (You need to do the same at the airport when you leave the country.)

Not sure why, but we landed 30 minutes late. Good thing I reserved a taxi: the airport bus in Marrakesh stops running at 21:30.

Written on October 22, 2016