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Trip Report: Emirates vs. Flydubai

Flydubai Boeing 737-800 at Dubai International Airport. (Photo: aeroprints.com, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

Flydubai is to Emirates like a younger, less favored sibling. A low-cost airline with a singletype fleet consisting of only Boeing 737s, next to a big brother, with an enormous fleet that consists of exclusively Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s. This negative connotation cannot be further from the truth. In the fierce business of commercial aviation, Flydubai is actually to Emirates like a second breath. Cooperation and partnership that had yet not been replicated in the Gulf area. One that gives Emirates the narrow-body component and product flexibility that other airlines from the region need to achieve on their own.

A Blessing, Not a Curse

From a purely internal perspective, Flydubai gives Emirates an edge in regard to network planning and scheduling. It is possible to either open destinations that wouldn’t be able to support even the smaller of the two families operated by Emirates, the 777, or add more frequencies that enhance the product. It is also a way to offer a lower price point to the passengers without sacrificing the Emirates brand.

The decision between the two so-called siblings arose in front of me recently. The schedule was a driving factor when choosing the trip plan. To set off my journey I picked to fly from Dubai International Airport to Warsaw-Chopin on a morning segment with Emirates. It fit me best to fly back the overnight segment with Flydubai. This is a great way to compare the two carriers operating in parallel on the same route. What interested me the most during this endeavor was pure comfort. I wanted to waste the least amount of energy on travel as my trip was short and tight.

A Seat is a Seat?

On flights longer than two hours the seat can make a difference. Flights between Dubai and Warsaw are three times that long. It’s because of that, that I was able to notice the difference. My flights were operated by Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 737-8MAX respectively. Both with two class configuration – economy plus business class. According to seatguru the first of the two offers 33-34″ of pitch, while the other only 30″. This is a metric easy to quantify and verify, but from my observation, there was another one. Flydubai seat is definitely not reclining as much as the Emirates seat. I’m assuming that the lower pitch is partially the reason, but it’s a second issue nonetheless. When choosing between the two carriers on the website I couldn’t notice any difference in price. For this reason, each shortcoming I found felt a little bit like betrayal.

Is Emirates Food More of the Same?

Even though the flight time is very similar, while Flydubai passengers can count on one meal service during the flight, flying on Emirates gets you two. On my segment, the first meal was only a snack, and since it was a morning flight, the options were an egg sandwich or a fruit pastry. The second meal was the main course. It was an early lunch with two options – chicken or beef. Overall I really enjoyed it, and admittedly it was a lot of food. I could save the piece of cheese, the crackers and the oatbar for an even later snack during this flight.

Emirates main Economy meal service (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Filip Kopec)

Flydubai offers only one meal serving per flight, with two options to choose from – one of them veggetarian this time. The portion of the meal is rather smaller than the one offered by Emirates. To be fair though, I would not say that with blinds on my eyes I could tell the difference between Emirates and Flydubai food. It is worth noting that not all Flydubai passengers receive the meal service. If you booked the cheapest type of ticket called “Lite” , you are not eligible for this small luxury. Having bought the Emirates flight operated by Flydubai, there wasn’t such an option though at least with this part of the service.

Flydubai meal service (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Filip Kopec)


Emirates offers one of the world’s best In-Flight Entertainment systems. It is possible to have a peek at their current portfolio through the magazine available on the website. Next to some interesting new releases or the evergreen classics, we can also count on some seasonal offers, like the current Penelope Cruz cooperation. While flying on my second segment with Flydubai, I was hoping to see the same selection of movies and TV series. To my surprise, a dreadful orange box showed up on the right top corner of my IFE – “PURCHASE AED 40 ($11)”. This disappointment was incredibly amplified when after having a look at the digital offering I decided to go to sleep and asked the cabin crew for a blanket. I was politely informed that I could purchase one for myself for 100 AED ($27).

Flydubai IFE screen (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Filip Kopec)

Is It Worth It?

Comparing Emirates to Flydubai on one route might be comparing apples to apples, but such a comparison is definitely not fair to the latter. Flydubai will never play in the same league as Emirates. Having the possibility to book Flydubai flights with a different schedule is already an upgrade over just browsing through the Emirates offer. That being said, we sacrifice a lot for such perk, and I would very much prefer that Emirates clients were in fact treated like full service passengers when given a full service price to pay.

Filip Kopeć
Latest posts by Filip Kopeć (see all)


  • Filip Kopeć

    A passionate aviation enthusiast that started off his career as an aerospace engineer, but found his true calling on the commercial side of the airline business. Now as a finance guy among avgeeks and an avgeek among finance guys, he has experience working in the Revenue Divisions of three airlines. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, but admittedly sometimes is more about the journey than the destination.

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