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When it comes to traveller reviews, how are regional airlines faring?

Airlines around the world were listed in the Travelers’ Choice Awards recently, with the top spot going to Singapore Airlines, beating carriers in the Middle East, including Dubai’s very own Emirates Airlines and the UAE’s capital’s Etihad Airways.

In fact, only 2 carriers from the Middle East made it into the top 10, with Emirates coming in at number 3, behind Air New Zealand.

Being a customer-related experience survey ranking, the Awards measure the quantity and quality of airline reviews and ratings over the past 12 months. So, AMEinfo took a look at what some customers are saying about our region’s carriers on review site Skytrax to see if we can find out why they didn’t make the grade.

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This Dubai-based low-cost airline came into operation in 2009,  and codeshares with Emirates, announcing 16 additional codeshare destinations at the end of last year. The combined network is expected to reach 240 destinations by 2022.

While this partnership – by and large – seems to have proved a hit with customers, purely FlyDubai journeys have left passengers turning to review sites in their droves, citing ‘uncomfortable’, ‘uneventful’, and ‘service-less’ trips

Airfares are, however, relatively cheap.

Skytrax user P Davey said: “The worst airline I have ever flown, the seats were unbelievably small and tight.”

N Abdi said that there is: “No TV channels, no entertainment unless you pay to watch TV.” He also said: “This so-called Budget airline had low quality and zero service!”

There was something that travelers happily agreed on, however: the “plentiful” and “delicious” food. Good to know, seen as customers have to pay for this on top of their airfare.

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Gulf Air 

Bahrain carrier Gulf Air is deemed as mediocre when inflight; many people took to Skytrax to bemoan the canceled flights and lack of alternative flight options made available.

Gulf Air, however, was one of the airlines to go against Trump’s decision to ban electronics on Middle East airlines, which won them some fans. But Rohith Jawardene said that “flights have limited to no entertainment options,” which cost him more.

Air Arabia 

Sharjah’s Air Arabia is good overall, with only one caveat:  Amine Saidi, Max Klaine and many others reported that “the plane didn’t land where it should,” “a 3 hr delay and finally touch down in Hahn instead of FRA.” In addition, its customer service is reportedly below par, “We called them, but the customer service crew did not speak English,” wrote one disgruntled passenger on Skytrax.

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Etihad Airways

The UAE’s national carrier Etihad Airways fares a little better, with a largely positive overall sentiment. However, a couple of reviewers have stated their bad experience with this airline.

S Richards said: “I was forced off a flight I had tickets for months earlier. Typically, airline companies will ask for volunteers to take another flight. In this case I had no choice in the matter. Secondly, airline companies will usually re-book customers on comparable flights. They didn’t”


While Emirates made the top 10 on the Travelers’ Choice Awards list, coming it at number 3, thanks to its largely celebrated customer service, fleet and dining options, some customers still felt it could do better.

Some travellers reported a bad customer experience, such as Vincent Chan who said: “The cabin crew’s attitude seemed to be too proud (we think self-absorbed) to serve the customers.”

Another reviewer called O Anderson said: “They talk only when they have to instruct guests. I did not hear a thank you, a welcome, a sorry, even when they forgot to distribute food and beverages to us hungry people.”