Introduction: One “Stan” At A Time
Review: Wingtips Lounge New York JFK Airport
Review: Uzbekistan Airways Business Class 787 New York To Tashkent
Review: Hyatt Regency Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Review: Uzbekistan Airways Lounge Tashkent Airport
Review: Uzbekistan Airways Business Class A320 Tashkent To Dushanbe
Review: Hyatt Regency Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Review: Dushanbe Airport Lounge
Review: Somon Air Business Class 737 Dushanbe To Dubai
Review: Saudia First Suite 777 Dubai To Riyadh
Review: Saudia Business Class Lounge Riyadh Airport
Review: Saudia First Suite 777 Riyadh To Los Angeles
Somon Air 105
Dushanbe (DYU) – Dubai (DXB)
Wednesday, August 16
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Seat: 2A (Business Class)
Upon boarding through the forward door we were greeted by two young and friendly flight attendants. Somon Air’s business class cabin consists of 16 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration. I loved how colorful the cabin was, the patterns on the bulkhead, etc.
Legroom was roughly comparable to what you’d find in first class within the US, so it was pretty comfortable. However, the seats felt really worn, to the point that I felt like my seat barely had any padding. That’s despite the plane only being several years old.
Between seats was a console, and towards the back of it were two personal televisions.
Underneath and to the side of the center armrest were the entertainment controller, USB outlet, and headphone jack.
And then in front of and underneath the center console were two 110v outlets.
Unfortunately there was just one small catch — none of them worked. When we asked the crew about it, they said “the license is finished.” I can appreciate that they don’t want to pay for an entertainment selection, but at a minimum I wish the power ports worked.
Located on the far armrest was a simple lever that controlled the seat recline.
The tray table could also be removed from the far armrest, and folded in half.
The seat had a small footrest. Personally I prefer a footrest like this to a full legrest, at least for a regional configuration like this.
While the lack of working power ports and entertainment was disappointing, Somon Air does have the Boeing Sky Interior, which is nice.
There was a reading light and air vent at each seat as well.
There were two flight attendants working business class, and they were both professional, even if they didn’t speak much English. We were offered pre-departure drinks of choice. I got the sense that we could order just about anything non-alcoholic. We both ordered water, which was served in glasses.
While the flight seemed to be fairly full in economy, there was only one other person in business class. It was a fairly young woman who seemed pretty edgy. She didn’t seem to be Emirati, though I’m not sure she was from Tajikistan either.
The only unusual part of the boarding process was the guy who seemed to be trying to negotiate for an upgrade. The conversation wasn’t in English, though we heard him say “business business.” He talked to one of the gate agents, then talked to the flight attendants, then paced around the business class cabin while on his cell phone. He ended up being in economy.
By 5:20PM the door closed, at which point the captain added his welcome aboard, informing us that we’d have a flight time of 3hr24min, and that we’d be cruising at 24,000 feet (which didn’t sound right to me at all, but that’s definitely what he said). He said our route of flight would take us over Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran.
At 5:25PM we began our taxi, at which point the manual safety demonstration was done. Once that was complete, the crew walked through the entire plane with a basket of candy.
We had a quick taxi, and by 5:35PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 9.
We had beautiful views of Dushanbe on our climb out, and the views only got better the further out we got.
The climb out was smooth, though one interesting thing was that there was a strong cigarette odor in the cabin after takeoff. Matthew asked the crew about this, and as usual, they pretended they couldn’t smell it, and said “our pilots don’t smoke at all.” This happened a few times during the flight. I guess the no smoking signs only apply to passengers. 😉
I should also note that the cabin was exceedingly hot while on the ground and during the first portion of the flight. We brought this to the crew’s attention, and they said the pilots would make it cooler. Eventually it got a bit better.
10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off. A few minutes later the crew came through the cabin to take our meal orders — “chicken or fish?”
After that we were brought ramekins of nuts and raisins, as well as packaged towels.
We decided to check out their wine selection, so the crew brought out the mini bottles of white and red wine that they had. I had the white wine, while Matthew had the red wine.
I have to say, for a small, regional airline, this is a pretty nice presentation for drinks. The white wine was decent, while Matthew’s red wine was terrible, and tasted like cough syrup.
About 20 minutes later we were brought beautiful Somon Air tablecloths. They weren’t especially clean, but at least they were pretty. 😉
The entire meal service was on a single tray, and was decent enough. Both meals came with the same sides, which included two pieces of (stale) bread, a plate with chicken, cheese, and olives, a plate with cheese olives, and something else (it couldn’t have been ham, though I’m not sure what it was), and then a muffin for dessert.
For the main course I ordered the fish, which was not especially great.
Matthew had the chicken, which was served with potatoes, and seemed to be the better of the two options.
After the meal I ordered coffee, which was served in a beautiful Somon Air cup & saucer. What lovely presentation, even if it was powdered coffee.
The meal service was done a bit over an hour into the flight. The crew was friendly, and constantly checked on us, offered drink refills, etc.
After the meal I checked out the forward lavatory, which was clean but didn’t have any special amenities.
I also snapped some pictures of the business class cabin.
The seats don’t recline all that much. The aisle seat in the below picture is fully reclined.
I spent the rest of the flight working and enjoying the views. Since there was no other inflight entertainment, I read the inflight magazine cover to cover, which was both fascinating and entertaining.
For example, Somon Air’s CEO was a former Delta captain, who somehow ended up as CEO of the airline.
In addition to his note to passengers, there’s an interesting interview with him as well:
This interview with Somon Air’s inflight service senior manager gave me a good chuckle as well:
This story about Somon Air starting flights to Tashkent was a good read as well:
We kept making slight left turns during the flight, I suspect because we were avoiding Afghanistan airspace. As we continued our flight, we had some beautiful views as the sun set, which continued for quite a while since we were flying west.
By 7:30PM local time the seatbelt sign was turned on, and the pilots announced we’d soon be arriving.
By 7:45PM we had a smooth touchdown in Dubai, and then a 15 minute taxi to our arrival stand.
Unfortunately we arrived at a remote stand, and it was quite a long drive from there to the terminal.
On the plus side, it meant we got some great views of our colorful 737.
Somon Air business class bottom line
Overall I enjoyed my flight on Somon Air. The crew was friendly, the cabin was bright, and I felt like the overall operation was pretty professional. However, there are certainly some areas for improvement, including their lack of a lounge at their hub airport, the catering, the lack of power ports, etc.
Furthermore, the company’s management is quite interesting. Who would’ve thought an airline in Tajikistan would be run by a former Delta captain?
I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with Somon Air again.