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In summer, I'm flying from Europe to India. A friend of mine told me to avoid overnight flights from Dubai to India, because, as he argues, these flights are prone to unruly passengers, dirty aircraft, and so on. He even mentioned that these flights are called punishment flights by the crew, because no one wants to be on this flight.

So my question is: How bad is the situation really and is it worth to avoid these flights and fly other routes, even if these other flights might be a little bit longer or more expensive?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

tl;dr

It boils down to this:

  • Are you travelling with family/kids?
  • Do you have a flexible budget (able to consider more than the cheapest options)?
  • Are you easily annoyed or frustrated while travelling?
  • Do you have onward travel once you have arrived in India (by road, train, connecting flights, etc.)?

If the answer to any of the above is YES, I wouldn't choose a late night flight.


... these flights are prone to unruly passengers, dirty aircraft, and so on. He even mentioned that these flights are called punishment flights by the crew, because no one wants to be on this flight.

There is some truth to this. Keep in mind that there are a fair number of Indian labourers in Dubai. This group of people is always looking for the cheapest flights between Dubai and their destination in India.

Consider the following factors:

  • Your budget

It all depends on what it is that you can afford. If you can afford to fly business class, you will receive good service on almost all airlines. Bear in mind that airlines like Air India will probably have more rowdy passengers in general and you probably don't want to spend business class fare on such an airline. However, Emirates or Jet Airways will give you good service regardless of the flight times.

  • Your destination

It is relatively easy to find a variety of airline options if you are going to a major city like Mumbai, Bangalore or Delhi. However, if you are going to a second tier city like Goa or Pune, your options are limited to Air India and possibly a couple other airlines.

  • Alternate starting points

Sharjah airport is the closest international airport to Dubai and the airline that flies out of here is Air Arabia (budget airline, popular choice among the labour class). However, you also have Abu Dhabi which has options like Etihad Airways. This one, like Qatar Airways offers good service- it is something to consider if you have a couple hours to spare and want to visit Abu Dhabi.

So my question is: How bad is the situation really and is it worth to avoid these flights and fly other routes, even if these other flights might be a little bit longer or more expensive?

If you are a single traveller, it is easier for you to adapt to noisier and rowdier flights. If you are with family and kids, you probably want to have a more relaxed journey. All in all, I would say that you are better off choosing an airline like Jet Airways or Emirates at a non late night time.

If you don't, it is still just a 3 hour flight. However, if you are not familiar with India and are going there as a tourist, you want to save some energy for what might hit you when you get to India :)

If you are not a tourist and are familiar with India, then you are probably used to rowdy people and should have no extra problems.


Edit: a matter of perspective

After reading the other answer, I feel it important to mention that what some people may think of as unruly and hectic, others may not. It is a matter of perspective. Since the OP mentions that they are originating in Europe, I think it is safe to assume that from a non-Indian tourist's perspective, passengers on some of these flights tend to come across as relatively abrasive.

I can say this out of personal experience- I am a non resident Indian who has lived in Dubai and now in Canada and travels to India once in a while. I find myself losing patience when travelling in India especially after having lived in Canada.

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First, I would like to talk about the punishment flight part. It is a punishment not because it is a flight to India, but because it is an international round trip (or turn around) and because it is at night. So, the crew will have to manage their sleeping time before the flight to be able to wake up late to report for this long, boring international flight with a two hours ground time in the airplane, and they usually will fail to manage the sleeping time before the flight, so they go sleepy and in slightly bad mood. Hence the punishment flight. Same applies for the passengers, they will be sleepy and might be in bad mood if they did not manage to sleep, and usually sleeping in airplanes is not a comfortable thing to do.

Regarding the unruly passengers and dirty airplane parts, majority of the passengers in flights to India are from the laboring/working class who originate from slums or small villages with little to zero knowledge about using airplane facilities in addition to being shy about asking on how to use them. Hence the dirty airplane which is interpreted as unruly passengers by some, because last time I checked unruly passengers are more like violent (verbally, physically, etc.) passengers, and I can assure you that Indian people are the sweetest possible passengers ever.

Bottom line, Go for the flight. If I was given a choice between night and day time flight to India I would pick up the night flight because most passengers would be sleeping and it will be way smoother and more quite.

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+1 for mentioning this point "It is a punishment not because it is a flight to India, but because it is an international round trip (or turn around) and because it is at night." –  R K Mar 12 at 13:33

I have taken these night flights from Dubai to India several times, as recent as a month ago. I did not find any passengers to be unruly or the plane to be dirty. It is true that there are many working class (construction workers, airport maintenance staff etc.) people from India in Dubai and just like everyone else, they try to save a penny when it comes to buying flight tickets. So it is true that you may find these people on the flight but I have never seen anyone getting unruly or rude or annoying for that matter. I mean, who doesn't want to save? I see no reason for anyone to avoid these flights for the reasons mentioned because they are not true. Go for it, take these flights and write about your experience!

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As a frequent traveler to India from UK. I'd consider myself have much experience about flying by both the direct flights and the cheap flights through Dubai (really is not that cheap compare to direct flights but surely you can save some money if you book your tickets quiet earlier).

Working Class Flight ?

Yes, it's 100% true that most of the passengers traveling from Dubai to India are less paid Indian workers but they are absolutely very nice people to travel with them. Even in the direct costly flights I used to see the people behaving very rude to crew members/co-passengers but I have never seen such things in those cheap flights. Contradictorily some of the crew members used to behave partially to some poor passengers by the way they look and dress.

Dirty Flight ?

No, it's not 100% true. But I wouldn't tell I have never experienced. In those flights some of the passengers are quiet new to flights so they may not familiar with some minor stuffs how to use it. But it's absolutely tolerable as a shared user.

Final word

Just try once. Definitely you will travel again in those flights.

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