KLM 737-900 (PH-BXT) at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, ready to take us to Prague, with a 737-700 (PH-BGW) taxiing behind
Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij is not exactly a household name in most of the world, but its initials “KLM” and sky blue branding and livery are easily recognizable. I had a quick visit to Amsterdam before moving on to Prague this past spring, so flying on the national carrier of The Netherlands out of its homebase was the most obvious choice.
As I’ve pointed out numerous times, the European concept of business class (some better service, but the same seat as in economy, just with the middle seat blocked) is never worth it on personal trips, especially for a short flight blocked forÂ 90 minutes gate-to-gate. Â Addtionally, flying KLM (being a member of SkyTeam) meant flying outside my alliance, so no priority anything nor lounge access.
What could possibly go wrong?!
AvGeeks in Action – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
The 1st of July, 2015, marked the fifth anniversaryÂ of Emirates services to Prague. To celebrate this achievement, Emirates substituted an Airbus A380 on the Dubai to Prague route, which is normally served by a Boeing 777-300ER. I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to the event. The occasion was celebrated in true Emirates fashion, with a large PR event and cocktail reception, as well as an aircraft tour and an opportunity to photograph the arrival from the tarmac; an opportunity any AvGeek among us will gladly partake in.
This was the fourth visit so far of an Airbus A380 at Prague. The first wasÂ a Lufthansa A380, followed byÂ Emirates (for a medical diversion) and Korean Air (check out that story here). Unlike the previous events, there was much marketing and social media hype about the Emirates A380 – I guess this can be attributed to the strength of the Emirates brand image within the Czech Republic. On the day of the event, for those not fortunate enough to have access to the media/VIP event, Emirates handed out free hats and various other promotional itemsÂ to all who came to view this spectacular aircraft, no matter what side of the fence they were on. Well done, EK!
Stunning livery – airberlin Saab 2000 operated by Darwin Airline/Etihad Regional – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Recently,Â airberlinÂ commenced flights between Prague and Berlin-Tegel, and I was fortunate enough to be on-boardÂ the inaugural service.
The flights areÂ operated by Darwin Airline/Etihad RegionalÂ using a 50-seat Saab 2000 aircraft. Â ItÂ Â was a new type for me having only previously flown on the Saab 340. The Saab 2000 is one of theÂ fastest turboprop aircraft in commercial service, with a maximum cruising speed of 413mph.
I was curious to see what the Etihad RegionalÂ 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 aÂ lot,Â given the numerous train and bus connections linking Berlin and Prague, in about five hours. Â The justification from airberlin for theÂ 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
FLYDUBAIÂ ECONOMY CLASS FLIGHTÂ REVIEW BASICS:
Aircraft:Â Boeing 737-800
Departed:Â Prague (PRG)
Arrived:Â Dubai (DXB)
Stops:Â Non-stop flight
Class:Â Economy Class
Length:Â About six hours
Airline flydubai is one of the fastestÂ 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 thanÂ 45 Boeing 737-800s.
Flights to Prague commenced in December 2014 and, at present, Prague is the furtherest destination that flydubai operates.Â 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.
The one and only Czech Airlines A330 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
In May of last year Czech Airlines (CSA) took delivery of their first (leased) Airbus A330-300 aircraft from Korean Airlines. The sole purpose of this aircraft delivery was for Czech Airlines to re-enter the long-haul market on the Prague-Seoul route. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be booked on this aircraft from Prague to Seoul in Business Class and wanted to share my flight experience.
CZECH AIRLINES PRE-DEPARTURE
Being a non-schengen flight, the departure was from Terminal 1 at Prague Airport. I arrived about three hours early; it was interesting to see that Czech Airlines had dedicated check-in for the Seoul flight, with two dedicated business counters. My bag was priority-tagged and I was on my way to passport control within five minutes of arriving at the airport.Â The security check takes place at the gate for all flights originating from Terminal 1.
After clearing immigration, I made my way to the lounge. The lounge itself was quite modern and well planned out, with numerous phone/device charging stations. It would be nice to see the addition of some hot meals/refreshments, as only cold sandwiches and salads were offered.
Boarding commenced 30 minutes prior to departure. The load today was completely full in economy (majority of travellers were Korean tourists returning home) and only 3/18 in business class. There were two jetways available for boarding.
The empty Business Class cabin on my flight to Seoul. Photo – Jacob Pfleger.
ONBOARD THE CZECH A330-300
Once onboard the aircraft, I was greeted by the purser and escorted to my seat. As the aircraft is an ex-Korean Air bird, the interior and layout is identical to their A330-300â€™s; the only difference with this one being the paint scheme on the outside is that of Czech Airlines.