Somon Air 737 Business Class In 10 Pictures

Hello from Dubai! After an interesting week in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, we took the three hour flight from Dushanbe to Dubai yesterday on Somon Air. Tajikistan has two main airlines — Tajik Air, the state owned airline, and Somon Air, the private airline. While I’ll have a full trip report soon, I’ll share my initial thoughts on the experience in this post.

The interesting experience started at Dushanbe Airport. I’m used to airports where most people don’t speak much English, but nobody at this airport spoke more than a few words of English, which made communicating a struggle. I’ve also never been through as many security, passport, and immigration checks as here. There was security to get into the terminal, then another check to get to check-in, then another baggage check, then immigration, then another security check. What a rigamarole.

The airport has a lounge, though business class passengers don’t get access to it. It doesn’t belong to Priority Pass, but rather can only be accessed by paying $40. It’s strange to me that Somon Air doesn’t have a lounge at the airport for their business class passengers. Instead the lounge was just empty. It’s a long story, we didn’t pay for access, but due to a language barrier we at least got to see the lounge briefly.

On the plus side, the airport has a new terminal which is a nice enough place to sit.

As far as Somon Air goes, we flew on their “flagship” 737-900 (the airline has six 737s, and two 737-900s with the signature Boeing interiors).

The business class cabin had a total of 16 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration. I loved the bright colors of the cabin, though the seats were showing their age.

The flight attendants working business class were friendly, and they had no issues with us taking photos (unlike on Uzbekistan Airways). Service began with drinks and mixed nuts with raisins. I found it to be a fairly nice setup for a regional business class product.

For dinner there was the choice between chicken and fish. I had the fish, which was… not great. It was served with cheese, chicken, and ham as a side, two pieces of bread, and a muffin for dessert.

On the plus side, the (powdered) coffee was at least served in a nice cup.

Overall the crew was friendly and attentive, and constantly offered drink refills.

Somon Air has both power ports and personal televisions in business class. However, apparently “the license is finished,” so neither works. I can see them not wanting to pay for in-flight entertainment, but not even having functioning power ports? Really?

Fortunately the inflight magazine was a goldmine for entertainment. I had to read it cover-to-cover, it was that interesting. Somon Air’s CEO is a former Air Force pilot and Delta pilot. Oddly he has only ever worked in flight operations, yet somehow ended up as CEO of the airline, which is an interesting career progression.

In terms of the magazine’s entertainment value, check out the interview with Somon’s head of inflight service, especially the last part:

The one other noteworthy part of the flight was that the pilots were very clearly smoking. We counted at least four times where they did so. When we confronted the flight attendants about this, their response was “our pilots don’t smoke at all.” Mhm…

Bottom line

Overall Somon Air struck me as a well intentioned airline. The flight attendants were friendly, cabin fairly nice, food edible, etc.

This is by no means a world class airline, but then again, it doesn’t have to be given that Dushanbe isn’t a terribly competitive market. I do wish they had a lounge in Dushanbe and that the power ports worked, but otherwise I can live with the lack of entertainment and not so great food.

Comments

  1. Ben,

    I love the blog, but give the smoking stuff a rest. What I mean is, you are putting the FA’s is a difficult position and they aren’t ever going to do something anyway.

    Just my two cents.

  2. Ben, why do you still travel to the middle east? You said you drew the line at north korea for their abuse of that american, but the middle east is no different. Why do you fund them?

  3. I think the “good looking” part is a slight misunderstanding due to the translation to English. I’m thinking it was more like “well-groomed” or “professional appearance.” I could be wrong, but judging by the context of the article, I think that’s what it was actually trying to convey.

  4. jh: Why shouldn’t he? the middle east is not especially gay friendly but i don’t think Ben and Ford will organize a CSD there – so they are not in danger.

    While i went to the DPRK last month (and never felt threatened in any way) i wouldn’t go there as an US citizen. I know that Ben has a german passport but right now it’s just not worth the risks. Wait until things have calmed down a bit.

    Maybe he could sponsor Daniel for Air Koryo business class though?

  5. Senfgnu, doesn’t matter. The middle east kills people that are gay, stand up to the government, get raped, they torture people, they’re no different. Ben needs to wake up and realise this and stop going to the middle east.

  6. The Lounge maybe for government officials.

    And what is wrong with good looking FAs? Do you guys really loved grandmas that much? What a bunch of hypocrite!!!

  7. @jh
    For whatever you said middle eastern has done, american has done much more. Killing (not limited to gay), stand up to govt, rape, etc. They even shoot people!!! Are you saying Ben/Lucky should burn his american passport because of that?

    You need to wake up and get out of the cave.

  8. @jh –

    The moral issues of Ben (and many of us readers) traveling to the Middle East have been discussed ad nauseam. But here we go again…

    Firstly, what do you mean by the term ‘Middle East’? I hope you’re not implying that Tajikistan is in the Middle East. It’s not. I am now curious as to what countries you’re sweeping together under this umbrella term of yours.

    Secondly, there is no justification for comparing North Korea to the Middle East. Actually, your statement that the Middle East and the DPRK are “no different” is absurd and grossly ignorant.

    It’s so easy to judge and condemn other countries without having any idea of what you’re talking about. And I bet you think it makes you look cool and progressive.

    I’m really tired of having to defend the countries of the Middle East from absurdly overly generalized declarations of indignation that are based in ignorance. Just like I’m getting really sick of having to explain that not all Americans support Trump and his view that some Neo Nazis are “good people.”

  9. James, yes, america HAS, that’s history. He can go ahead and burn it, he would probably get treated better abroad.

    Imperator, NO, Dubai is in the middle east.

    All countries in the middle east torture, kill, criminalise etc.

    You guys make me sick for defending him.

  10. Just a heads up, but you better get used to these strenuous security procedures and excessive security if you intend on flying Rwandair, since I was recently in Rwanda and they make you go through about the same amount of security as you had to go through in Dushanbe.

  11. You order fish on an airline based in a landlocked country and expect wonders? Really Lucky – I expected better of you.

  12. @jh
    Look at the news, dear stupid. It is not history. It is happening. And you expect the world to treat you as king and queen because you are american?

    If we get you sick, we hope you die before you procreate. We don’t need another kind of you in this earth.

  13. @scottstlfl hahaha lmao, that was a good one. I also didn’t know what CSD meant but now I know the various uses. I wonder which one they fall into

  14. Guys, Tajikistan is in Central Asia and not in the Middle East. Also, there is no ham on board these flights. It’s a beef product. As far as smoking is concerned – it’s a problem. The product is as it is and will not improve due to a very simple reason – there is no competition in Tajikistan. You can get away with anything and everything if you are in some way related to the ruling elite. The most interesting experience I had was when an immigration official in the CIP Lounge in Khujand (second largest city of Tajikistan) asked me for a bribe because my wife’s documents “were not in order”, although we did go to the immigration office in the city and got all our papers in order. So, even if I paid 40$ per person for the access to the lounge, even though I had business class tickets for the flight (my 2 year old was also charged for the lounge), I still had to pay for some made up problem. My advice is to avoid Tajikistan (this advice shames me as I am a citizen of that country, however, I would rather people not be exposed to such primitive behavior).

  15. @ Lucky
    Thanks for getting back that fast !!
    In fact my question was more about the booking itself than the price because none of the major European OTA seems to be able to secure a booking on Somon Air and their website is inoperative…

  16. @ FFlyerCDG — Yep, actually took me a while to even figure out that the flight existed. I had to book directly through Somon Air’s website.

  17. @Lucky – Kool ! Let’s say their website isn’t always working but you’re the proof it’s working… From time to time :-))
    Again, thanks a lot for getting back.
    Take care and nice travels !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *