“ Country: Tunisia „
On my recent work trip to Tunisia, I flew from Heathrow airport and with the airline Tunisair. Now before this trip I had never flown before with this airline and will even admit that I'd not really even heard much, if anything about them. This is mainly due to the fact that I have never been asked for that airline and the compnay I work for at the moment doesn't have a contract to sell them as part of our packages.
So with this in mind I was quite intrigued as to what they would be like and unsure as to what kind of service they would provide.
The airline itself is the national airline of Tunisia, really the clue is in the name! The airlines colour is white with a motif of an animal that looks like a goat or deer and this is in red. The aircraft was actually set up in 1948 by an agreement with Air France and in 1949 it began operation. The aircraft that I travelled on was a Boeing 737-600 and the aircraft had a business class section at the front and also a economy section which was in a confirguration of 3 seats on either side of the aisle. The seats were the main thing that I noticed once I sat down as first of all the leg room was very good and was equal to that of some of the more well known scheduled airlines. The pitch of the seat was at a very good 34 inches. The second thing was that each seat had it's own TV. Now this isn't out of the ordinary for most scheduled airlines to have these nowadays but what made such an impression was that the TV's were actually on demand in the sense that you could choose to play games, watch films, listen to music or just generally follow your route on the route map. Even my flight earlier on in the year with a much bigger and well known airline hadn't had the full on demand service - this was impressive!
The airline operate out of Heathrow in the UK but, do have other european bases they fly to including france and Italy. The main hub for the ailine in Tunisia is Carthage International airport in Tunis.
The cabin crew were really good both ways - there was a good mix of men and women on both flights and most of the staff spoke Arabic, French and English - a good mix but as the main language of Tunisia is Arabic closely followed by French most Tunisians do speak these two languages anyway! The crew were good at gettting food served and were helpful when asked anything during the flight. The uniform for the staff is navy blue with white shirts and the woman I noticed, were wearing trousers. Maybe this is just standard but I didn't notice any of them wearing a skirt.
The flight to Tunisia from Heathrow toook just over 2 hours and 30 minutes so not very long at all really which makes it an easy flight. The flight was smooth in both directions and the adequate seating did make this even more enjoyable. I would even like to comment on how comfortable I thought the seats were as it really was an excellent aircraft for how enjoyable the journey was in regards to the seats - I only say this because after flying with quite a few airlines that are meant to be the best of them around, it really is a nice change to have a relatively small and not as well known airline provide what the big boys should be! The flight left a little late from Heathrow but, as soon as the gate opened the staff were quick at boarding and it didn't take very long to get going at all. The same can be said on the return as the aircraft was boarded pretty swiftly and was soon taking off.
Food and drink:
Now my big thing with any flight is the food - I absolutly love aeroplane food - yes you may not think it's the best and it's hardly the most practical way to eat a meal with elbows from the random passenger next to you digging into you and the tiny little cups of tea and coffee but there is something about eating on a plane that I love! So I always look forward to my meal and I don't think I was expecting it to be as nice as it was. On the both flights we had a hot meal that included two bread rolls and a desert. Now I didn't eat my desert as the flavour wasn't to my liking but the main meal was a kind of beef stew with vegetables and I really enjoyed it - it was tasty and filling. Now on the way back I was served a meal of fish and as I don't really like fish I wasn't too keen - in fact this was the first time I've been given a meal that I didn't truly appreciate as I even gave my desert to my friend who enjoyed it immensely but, even so I could see it was another filling and adequate meal. Tea and coffee were served in good time and all in all I thought the food was a good thing from this airline and give them a thumbs up! Also all drink is included in the price including alcoholic drinks so overall it is not a bad service at all.
Well overall the flight was pretty good but the only niggle which was such a shame was the on demand TV's after getting so excited by them when we first boarded didn't actually work very well! The games froze and we had to ask the stewardess to re set them which to her credit she did instantly for us. However it just didn't like it and wouldn't play for us! The films would but the sound was not very good - I do believe however that these are only just being introduced as the return flight didn't have them all so once (hopefully) they sort that I would give Tunisair a really good approval for their entertainment system.
I thought that overall this was an excellent little airline - the staff were great in both directions and the food fabulous. The airline do serve duty free too and have quite a good range at the usual kind of prices - I never buy duty free so cannot really say much more than that! However the airline is still relatively unknown as a first choice to Tunisia as a lot of people travelling to this country will fly with a charter airline on a package holiday - however I would say that if you come across a chance to use them please do as I was pleasantly surprised by them and think most others would be too. Prices start at around the £200 mark not including tax for a return fare.
Also published on other review sites.
Tunis Air (Arabic: الخطوط الجوية التونسية) for those that are not familiar with the name, is the flag carrier airline of Tunisia and is rated as a 3 star airline by Skytrax. It was formed in 1948 and currently operates 113 scheduled international routes flying into over 80 European, African and Middle Eastern airports. It has a fleet of around 32 aircraft and since 1961 has been continuously renewing this fleet ensuring that the airline keeps up with the changing demands of its' passengers.
Just to give you some basic information about the airline itself before i give you my experience of flying with them;
Seat Pitch: 32 inches
Baggage Allowance: 20kg
Business Class: Espace Privilege 38 inch seat pitch
Meals included: Yes
Drinks included: Yes
Please note: Seat Pitch is the distance between a row of seats - the measurement from the same position on two seats, one behind the other - it is NOT the legroom area as some believe. (Taken from Skytrax website).
I flew with Tunis Air on 1st April 2008 and returned on 4th April 2008. I flew out of London Heathrow and into Tunis Carthage International Airport. All of the following sub-headings relate to economy class.
The check-in service both in Heathrow and In Tunis was actually one of the friendliest i have ever experienced. Usually when you check in i find that the staff don't really make conversation, don't really make any effort with you and be quite rude and intimidating but, the staff on the desk at the time i checked in were very friendly. They made me feel very comfortable indeed, made polite, but not forced conversation with me and made me laugh. I was really surprised at how great the staff were.
The flight on the outbound was delayed twice by about an hour. However, when we were finally allowed to board it took no longer than 25 minutes to get everyone on the plane and ready to fly. The staff were very efficient and still maintained the level of friendliness i had experienced at the check in. On the return flight, we boarded on time but we ended up being delayed by about 30 minutes but we weren't told why.
Again, i was pleasantly surprised that Tunis Air, in economy, had individual seat back TV's with on demand services such as TV programmes, latest films not out on DVD yet, lots of music cd's to make your own play lists from and a selection of games for all ages! After take off, the stewardess came round with earphones to plug in....i thought it was wonderful! That is until i realised that the control for the games etc was jammed into the seat the wrong way round so that i couldn't get it out. However, i was informed that i did not need the remote because it was touch screen but i had already selected a game and the screen had frozen. I kindly asked the stewardess to re-set the row and she did so very quickly. I decided to opt for a kid's film, "The Bee Movie" and so plugged my earphones in but.....no sound. I flew with 18 people all together and each one said that they trouble with something on the on-demand service whether it was sound or frozen screens. I was quite disappointed really that with such up-to-date technology in front of me i had to opt for the old-fashioned magazine to pass the 2 hour 30 minute flight away.
Unfortunately, we must have had an older aircraft on the return flight as there were no seat back TV's, although there were overhead screens (1 per 3 rows) but no films were shown. Very disappointing.
Airline Magazine & Newspapers;
There was a selection of newspapers as you boarded the plane but they were all Arabic! The only magazine available was the shopping magazine and there was only 1 available for the row of 3 seats.
Economy Class meals:
I thought the food was really nice! We had beef, vegetables and potatoes on the outbound and seasoned white fish with cous cous on the inbound and i loved it!! You also received a small salad, 2 bread rolls, butter, a piece of cheese and a dessert. You were also served a cold drink and a hot drink! I wasn't too keen on the dessert going out as i wasn't too sure as to what it was...some kind of cake that tasted a little like sesame snaps (if anyone has ever tried them). I looooved the bakewell they served on the way back and i ended up eating my friend's portion as well....ooops!! All in all i would say the food was delicious, served hot and was plentiful.
Staff attitude, friendliness & service efficiency:
The level of friendliness of the staff was impressive; it wasn't forced or false and everything was done with a genuine smile. If anything was requested like a drink or pillow or a problem arose, the member of staff dealing with it was quick, efficient and apologetic if necessary. Considering English is their 3rd language they spoke it very well but there were occasionally a few blank expressions but luckily my French (their 2nd language) isn't that worse for wear and i was able to communicate my needs.
As i have probably expressed quite clearly i was surprised at the professionalism from this little known airline. I was impressed with the staff and their friendliness, helpfulness and efficiency; the food was lovely; the cleanliness of the aircraft was of a good standard and the seats were very comfortable and spacious. The only reason i am not rating Tunis Air as excellent is due the lack of in-flight entertainment. It was such a shame that passengers could not use the latest technology available on the aircraft to make their flight more enjoyable and fun.
I would recommend Tunis Air to anyone!
Tunisiar is a small company with big ambitions. Their single strong point is that they own a very big portion of Tunisian market. This is the result of the major locking of the main Airport to Eurpean based-low cost airlines and the to the fact that it is the main and only choice for locals to travel abroad.
When you do not have serious competition, you sometimes forget to work on your quality. Meals are satisfying but the crew need more training, especially on their communication skills and language skills.
The inflight entertainement is a mere real-time dipslay of the plane's position.
Not a well known or well used airline but well worth using if you are flying to Tunis from Heathrow. First sight of the aircraft does not fill one with confidence, they are using fairly old planes, but at least they are servicable and clean. The staff are aloof but efficient. The main big plus for me is the roominess of the seats, none of this cramped, how many people can we fit in an aircraft, type configeration. It is a schedule flight but used by Panorama and others for package holidays to Tunisia. It must be one of the few short haul services which still has a smoking section. The food is good and the inflight drinks limited but adequate. Thumbs up for some good old fashioned flying