Review: Somon Air Business Class 737 Dushanbe To Dubai

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Somon Air 105
Dushanbe (DYU) – Dubai (DXB)
Wednesday, August 16
Depart: 5:35PM
Arrive: 8:15PM
Duration: 3hr40min
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.

Somon Air 737 business class cabin

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.

Somon Air 737 business class seat

Somon Air business class legroom

Between seats was a console, and towards the back of it were two personal televisions.

Somon Air business class center console

Somon Air business class personal television

Underneath and to the side of the center armrest were the entertainment controller, USB outlet, and headphone jack.

Somon Air business class entertainment controls and power outlet

And then in front of and underneath the center console were two 110v outlets.

Somon Air business class power 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.

Somon Air business class recline

The tray table could also be removed from the far armrest, and folded in half.

Somon Air business class tray table

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.

Somon Air business class footrest

While the lack of working power ports and entertainment was disappointing, Somon Air does have the Boeing Sky Interior, which is nice.

Somon Air Boeing Sky Interior

There was a reading light and air vent at each seat as well.

Somon Air business class air vents and reading lights

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.

Somon Air business class pre-departure drinks

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.

Guy trying to upgrade on Somon Air

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.

Taxiing Dushanbe Airport

We had a quick taxi, and by 5:35PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 9.

Taking off Dushanbe Airport

We had beautiful views of Dushanbe on our climb out, and the views only got better the further out we got.

View after takeoff from Dushanbe

View after takeoff from Dushanbe

View enroute to Dubai

View enroute to Dubai

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. 😉

No smoking?

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.

Somon Air business class dinner service — towels and mixed nuts

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.

Somon Air business class wine selection

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.

Somon Air business class dinner service — wine, nuts, and towel

About 20 minutes later we were brought beautiful Somon Air tablecloths. They weren’t especially clean, but at least they were pretty. 😉

Somon Air business class tablecloth

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.

Somon Air business class dinner service

For the main course I ordered the fish, which was not especially great.

Somon Air business class dinner service — fish

Matthew had the chicken, which was served with potatoes, and seemed to be the better of the two options.

Somon Air business class dinner service — chicken

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.

Somon Air business class 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.

Somon Air business class lavatory

I also snapped some pictures of the business class cabin.

Somon Air business class cabin

Somon Air business class cabin

The seats don’t recline all that much. The aisle seat in the below picture is fully reclined.

Somon Air business class seat recline

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.

Sunset enroute to Dubai

Sunset enroute to Dubai 

By 7:30PM local time the seatbelt sign was turned on, and the pilots announced we’d soon be arriving.

View approaching Dubai

By 7:45PM we had a smooth touchdown in Dubai, and then a 15 minute taxi to our arrival stand.

Taxiing Dubai Airport

Unfortunately we arrived at a remote stand, and it was quite a long drive from there to the terminal.

Arrival stand Dubai Airport

On the plus side, it meant we got some great views of our colorful 737.

Somon Air 737 Dubai Airport

Somon Air 737 Dubai Airport

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.

  1. Welp, I wouldn’t expect a wine named “Paris Seduction” to taste very good anyway. It sounds more like the stage name of stripper in a strip club (not that I speak from experience or anything!) =P

  2. “For the main course I ordered the fish, which was not especially great. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either.”

    I think you need an editor…

  3. LOL. This is currently on Somon webpage:

    Due to temporary fuel shortage at Dushanbe and Khujand airports, Somon Air, effective from 16th of August 2017, until further notice, will be forced to operate majority of its flights with refueling stopovers, which will extend the time of flight and arrival at the airports of destination by one (1) hour.
    This is a temporary measure, and our airline is putting all efforts to restore non-stop service in near future.
    We apologies for any inconvenience this may cause as regretfully this situation is beyond our control.
    We appreciate your understanding and support.”

  4. @Julia agree. @Lucky, for all your hallmark obsessive detail, your descriptions of food and drink are just rubbish. Can you please try a bit harder at this? Thank you in advance!

  5. Flightradar24: They did initially climb to 24.000, later climbed to 26.000 as final. The same aircraft flew 24.000 on the same route 3 days later.
    24.000 is low, with much slower speed and higher fuel burn. However, 25.000 is dispatch limit for single bleed air (engine air used for pressurization) or single pack (pressurization and air condition). Most likely thats what this was, though they did climb to 26.000.
    It is not unusual to dispatch with single bleed or single pack, but normally the plane would be used on short flights, where the time and economy wouldnt be too much affected, but seems like this airline only have two B739.

  6. Was the young woman ‘edgy’ in the sense of ‘being on edge’ or was she ‘cutting edge’? I prefer to think she was avant – garde.

  7. @lucky the following question is asked in all seriousness.
    What are you smoking?
    You write about the padding “despite it being several years old” . What does several years mean in numbers?
    You write about the decor “pattern on the bulkhead etc”
    These glaring gaps aren’t what we’re used to. This report looks like it was rushed out.

  8. Hey Lucky got an idea for a post following from your “Best Business Class” post.. how about top 10 best value business class (or something to that extent)? Keep up the good work!

  9. Good review on a very exotic airline. I like all their branding on the tableclothh, coffee-up etc. Your honest insights are always fun to read. Somon’s livery mirrors the Tajik flag and looks good too (as you also noted – “their colorful 737”).

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