A ray of hope in the darkness of European flying, sitting on the ground at Prague’s Ruzyne Airport – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
No matter where in the world, when you fly economy on a small turboprop, you likely are not going to have high expectations. This will just be some basic transportation to get from point A to point B. I was shocked when I recently flew an Air Serbia ATR-72-500 from Prague to Belgrade.
Often, flying in Europe can be an even-less-pleasant experience than flying in America. When I landed in Europe, after my not-so-stellar international experience, I said to myself, “I bet you Air Serbia can beat this.” And they did!
Stunning livery – airberlin Saab 2000 operated by Darwin Airline/Etihad Regional – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Recently, airberlin commenced flights between Prague and Berlin-Tegel, and I was fortunate enough to be on-board the inaugural service.
The flights are operated by Darwin Airline/Etihad Regional using a 50-seat Saab 2000 aircraft. It was a new type for me having only previously flown on the Saab 340. The Saab 2000 is one of the fastest turboprop aircraft in commercial service, with a maximum cruising speed of 413mph.
I was curious to see what the Etihad Regional product would be like, and if it would live up to the Etihad mainline economy class experience.
airberlin has scheduled three daily return flights on the route. If we look at the route from a P2P (point-to-point) perspective, three flights is a lot, given the numerous train and bus connections linking Berlin and Prague, in about five hours. The justification from airberlin for the three flights per day is that Prague-Berlin will act primarily as a feeder service for their mainline European and long-haul international networks. All the flights are time strategically to connect, in particular with long-haul flights New York and Moscow.
flydubai Boeing 737-800 landing in Prague – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
FLYDUBAI ECONOMY CLASS FLIGHT REVIEW BASICS:
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Departed: Prague (PRG)
Arrived: Dubai (DXB)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Economy Class
Length: About six hours
Airline flydubai is one of the fastest growing low-cost carriers (LCCs) in the Middle Eastern region. Since commencement of operations in 2009, flydubai’s network has grown considerably and today they operate to over 83 destinations with a fleet of more than 45 Boeing 737-800s.
Flights to Prague commenced in December 2014 and, at present, Prague is the furtherest destination that flydubai operates. I decided to book my next trip to the UAE with flydubai, as their fare was by far the cheapest. Fares on the Prague-Dubai route start at US$230 for a round-trip (including checked luggage and a meal).
Not a bad view on the way to Dubai – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
As this was an LCC and a relatively long flight on the 737, I decided to pay the extra US$20 each way for an exit row seat, which was well worth it. One criticism I have is that at present, flydubai only offers on-line check-in on flights originating from Dubai; this means I had to check-in at the airport, something I have not done in a very long time.
Korean Air’s A380 visits Prague for the first time – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Yesterday, Korean Air premiered their Airbus A380 to Prague on their regular scheduled flight from Seoul. I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to welcome the aircraft to Prague.
This was the third A380 operation to Prague since its introduction to service. The first was a Lufthansa bird, which came to Prague for crew/diversion support training, and then Emirates last year on a medical diversion.
A special viewing area set up for the event in the adjacent gate – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Korean Air presently operate eight A380’s in their fleet and they deploy them primarily on their key routes to Los Angeles and Hong Kong; this one-off flight to Prague therefore came as a bit of a surprise. The reason behind this aircraft substitution (in lieu of the regular A330/B777 mix on the route) was due to a major EU technology conference in Hanover and the requirement for a large business class cabin.
Korean Air operates the least-densely-configured A380. The lower deck consists of 12 first class seats and 301 economy class seats with a generous 34-inch pitch. The upper deck is all business class, with a 94-seat cabin -this is by far the largest business class cabin on an airliner (mixed-class) to date.