Maybe you're crossing to the bustling megalopolises of the UAE for a business meeting off-the-cuff, or is it that you need to hit Doha to dabble in some real estate? Perhaps it's pleasure that's got you flying the skies of the Middle East, with the sun-kissed beaches of the Israeli coast, the rolling deserts of Dubai, and the oases towns of Saudi Arabia beckoning from afar? Well, whatever it is, travellers hitting this enthralling part of the world this year would do well to read on, because we at Hopper have consulted the acclaimed Skytrax World Airline Awards to create a lowdown of the best budget airlines in the region's skies.
It looks as though Flynas' fresh rebranding program of 2013 has worked wonders, with the carrier now enjoying a place amongst the top five airlines in the entire of the Middle East region. Aside from a range of budget fares to destinations from Egypt to the UAE and Jordan, this one also offers some truly bespoke services, like chauffeur-driven transfers courtesy of Careem cars, special flights for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, and business ticket options for travellers in need of extra legroom and flexible flights.
Whether you're a loyal member of Up's Matmid frequent flier program or just a casual holidaymaker making use of the carrier's hops in and out of the Middle East to cities in Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Germany, then the chances are you've experienced this one's excellence at first hand. Voted into a respectable fourth position here, this Israel-based airline touts an 'Economy Plus' class on all its Boeing 737-800s and a buy-on-board catering program on all connections over two hours.
The first privately owned Kuwaiti airline to grace the skies of the Middle East and now the second-largest carrier coming from the tiny little country on the edge of the Persian Gulf overall, Jazeera Airways has risen since its launch in 2004 to a position of real prestige. Not only was the flier elected the third-best in the region overall by passengers taking the Skytrax survey last year, but it has also been a nominee in the World Travel Awards category for leading low-coster and best cabin crew!
Hailing in from the lesser-known emirate of Sharjah, this budget carrier come long-haul operator goes north to Russia, east to India, west to Morocco and all around to a whole host of Middle Eastern cities besides. Its fleet is made up entirely of Airbus A320-200s, all loaded with the services of the carrier's Sky Café, duty free shopping opportunities galore and even arguably the most wholesome entertainment offering in the air today: the so-called 'Fun Onboard' program, which encourages travellers to join in with quizzes, talent shows and the like!
Now with a great big line-up of more than 80 destinations across the Middle East, Asia, North Africa and the Eastern Bloc, FlyDubai are certainly one of the most prolific low-costers currently criss-crossing the deserts and dunes of the region. Apparently they are also the best too, touting a first place on Skytrax's line-up here, along with a shiny new fleet of Boeing 737s and dedicated business class cabins complete with 42-inches of seat pitch, 12.1-inch HD entertainment screens and Italian leather upholstery throughout. Nice.