Somon Air is the sole private airline (versus state-owned Tajik Air) in Tajikistan. We flew from Dushanbe to Dubai aboard a 737-900ER, the crown jewel of the fleet. While I’d rate the flight experience as good overall, Somon Air has some issues to address.
I outlined our airport experience in this facetious report on Dushanbe Airport, but omitted the check-in experience. The check-in agents spoke no English. None. Not a word. It was only through hand gestures and eventually a pen and paper we were able to communicate our wishes for seat assignments.
While Dushanbe Airport has a CIP Lounge, Somon Air business class passengers are not given complimentary access. We later found we could have paid $30 for some stale sandwiches and soft drinks, but spent the time in the terminal area instead…where wi-fi did not work.
Finally it was time to board, about 35 minutes prior to departure. No announcement was made. The gate agents showed up from downstairs and everyone assembled to board.
Somon Air 105
Dushanbe (DYU) – Dubai (DXB)
Wednesday, August 16
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Seat: 2C (Business Class)
Somon Air Business Class Seat
Onboard we encountered a rather colorful interior featuring four rows of 2-2 seating. The seat was just like you’d find on a domestic USA flight in the front cabin, perhaps with just a bit more legroom. Recline was manually controlled by a single knob. The seat also included a footrest that folded down from the seat in front.
Ben took these later in the flight:
The seat was worn out and lacked padding, surprising for such a new aircraft. Even though the aircraft was equipped with personal IFE and universal power outlet (both in the center console), neither functioned.
The crew smiled and claimed, “The license is finished.”
Notice the detail on the bulkhead walls as well as the Boing Sky Interior.
Somon Air Business Class Meal
Prior to takeoff we were offered a choice of beverage and opted for water, served room temperature. The cabin was sweltering hot and this is one instance I would have enjoyed some ice cubes.
Even the individual air nozzles did not help, though the cabin eventually cooled once we were in the air.
Candy was also offered before takeoff.
No menus were distributed, but dinner service began shortly after takeoff. First came a packaged towelette and a ramekin containing raw almonds, cashews and raisins. We were offered “chicken or beef” for dinner and also a choice of beverage.
Ben ordered white wine so I ordered red wine just to see what was on offer.
Worst. Wine. Ever.
What do you expect with a wine called “Paris Seduction”?
Ben said his white wine tasted fine, but the red wine was absolutely wretched. It tasted like cough syrup, almost (but not quite) as bad as the “champagne” onboard Uzbekistan Airways.
But look at the presentation. You have to admire the effort. I loved the wine glasses.
Soon after, tablecloths were laid. While I appreciated the silk tablecloths and the Somon Air logo embroidered on, they were dirty. Clearly they were re-used on multiple flights without being washed. Good thing a tray was placed over them.
I think my rolled chicken turned out better than Ben’s fish, but it was not a very good meal. I feared the cold cuts and cheese were highly processed and not real, the bread was terrible, and the chicken was not especially flavorful or warm. But the dill potatoes were fabulous.
After dinner I ordered coffee, which was Nescafe powered. Great cup and saucer, though.
Somon Air Business Class Service
Service was warm and friendly even though the cabin crew did not speak much English. I appreciated very much that FAs were diligent in keeping glasses full and managed not just to force a smile, but seem genuinely friendly.
The cabin was only booked 3/16 (one man aggressively tried to self-upgrade, but ultimately failed) which may have helped, but the crew clearly cared.
Somon Air Business Class Seat Smoking
Every 30 minutes we smelled cigarette smoke. It was 100% unmistakable. Most likely, the captain and first officer were smoking from the flight deck. I asked a FA about this and her response was rather hilarious:
“Our pilots don’t smoke at all!”
So much for this sign…
At least (unlike China Eastern) the smell quickly disappeared.
Somon Air Business Class IFE
With the in-seat power and video monitors turned out, the only thing we had to pass the time was the in-flight magazine. Ben details it here.
I enjoyed an article interviewing the In-Flight Senior Service Manager, Brigitte Wareham the most.
Question: The cabin crew members are the face of the airline. What is expected from them?
Answer: Cabin crew are selected and recruited for their customer relations’ skills. They should love to interact with people and should be warm and compassionate. They must be healthy and able to work under pressure. Last but not least, they should also be good-looking.
Oh, okay. Good to know.
Somon Air Business Class Lavatory
The lavatory was clean but lacked any sort of special amenities.
We left early and landed on time in Dubai. The crew was nice. At least we had a real business class seat rather rather than a blocked middle. The crockery was excellent, the food not so much. The pilots smoked. Yeah, a decent flight overall.
I wish I could compare Somon to Tajik Air, but I’d fly Somon Air again. The cigarette smoke is absolutely annoying though. I hope former Delta Captain Thomas W. Hallam II, who is CEO of Somon Air, will instruct his crew members to refrain from smoking during flight.
Read Ben’s take on the flight here.
Here are a few aerial view from the flight: