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Air Malta LGW-MLA-LHR  
User currently offlineSignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 2992 posts, RR: 8
Posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 9268 times:

Air Malta LGW-MLA-LHR

Background

My mum offered my wife an I, for our Christmas present, a short break somewhere, the only stipulation being that it had to be somewhere that neither my wife nor I had been before. As well as not being too expensive! We've both travelled extensively around Europe, and didn't want to stretch her financially to a long-haul destination, so we settled on Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean. Tons of history, some very nice beaches, cuisine, and pretty towns.

Outward - 07/05/08
KM117 LGW-MLA
9H-AEQ
A320

I started off by checking in online, to pick our seats. One difficulty was that the online checkin didn't allow both seats to be checked in at the same time. So I checked in first, saw that I'd been allocated seat 10A. Not knowing where my wife's seat was, I found a few empty seats in her preferred area, towards the front on the right side. I moved to 9F, then found that she had been allocated 10B, so moved her to 9E. I also sent a mail from their website confirming the gluten free meal for her, that I had requested on booking. (A positive response was received within 30 mins - impressive customer service!)

We left from Norwich on a train bound for London. As we had different arrival and departure airports, we just took a ticket to Liverpool St Station, and then took the tube to Farringdon, using pay as you go Oyster. Annoyingly, the ticket to LGW from Liverpool St was £14, whereas one from Farringdon was only £8.90 (plus the £1 Oyster tube fare). Only thing was we had to exit the station only to reenter! The next train to Gatwick from Farringdon was quite full, so we ended up sitting apart from each other. It had been a while since I last used LGW (LGW-JER on BA, North Terminal - used the huge taxi-bridge!) so was pleasantly surprised to see the Air Malta checkin desks and bag drop almost immediately in front of the station entrance! We dropped our bags and decided to get a drink. Headed upstairs to the "Gatwick Village", landside shops and catering outlets. We stopped at Starbucks for a sandwich (for me) and a cake (for my wife) - they do sell gluten free sandwiches, but of their range of 2 I've only ever actually seen one, the egg and cress one, in one branch, and today they didn't have any either. So my wife had their new GF orange cake.

We then went through the security checks, all very easy and hardly anyone in front of us. The shops were quite busy though - everyone seemed packed into the concourse area. We bought a couple of books then headed out to the gate. Our gate was right down the end of the corridor - about 400m of travelators to walk along! We passed an Air Transat A330 on the way (which I later watched pushback and depart). Our aircraft was already at gate, and there were a lot of people sitting around waiting for boarding. Ours was the only aircraft departing from this group of gates, so they were all on our flight.

At this point we noticed that the average age of the passengers was quite a bit higher than on many other flights I've been on! It is known that Malta is a popular destination for retired holidaymakers. Boarding was done by rows, so we were some of the last to board. All done very calmly, none of the rugby scrum you get on Ryanair! We made our way on board and settled down. I'd say that the load was approx 95% - hardly any empty seats. I picked up a copy of the Times of Malta to read onboard. On pushback, whilst the safety video was being shown, my wife remembered that her mobile was still on, and in her daypack in the overhead locker - so I (being in the middle seat, she took the window) clambered up, and took it out of the bag for her to switch off. Managed this by contorting myself into an "S" shape around the overhead locker, and around the chap in the aisle seat.

We taxied for quote some time, to the other end of the runway, and soon we were airborne. Takeoff was quite smooth, and we quickly reached cruising altitude. Then the meal service started. As a full service carrier, Air Malta still serves a hot meal on flights over 3 hours (including London at 3h05m). There was however, no choice in the meal. You can also take one alcoholic drink - any more are chargeable. The meal was stewed beef, with rice and runner beans, it was rather tasty, and the meat was very tender. The steward gave my wife her gluten free meal - chicken filet with potatoes, beans and tomato (with some rice crackers on the side, instead of a roll). She was very impressed with it, compared to other airline meals.

The stewards on the flight all seemed to be male, and did their job professionally, but without any extra touches. I hardly saw them smile, but they probably had an early start with the early flight that morning out of MLA. We passed over Paris, down France then just off the west coast of Italy, before crossing over Sicily before approach. I got a couple of shots of the north of Corsica through gaps in the clouds. Approach was over Gozo, then down the length of the island - with a clear view of the Mosta dome. We landed ontime, and taxied to the terminal. There are no air bridges at MLA, so we all walked across the tarmac to the terminal. After passport control, we waited for our bags (some of the passengers seemed very impatient to get their bags back, and we witnessed some sharp words between passengers bumping each other with their trolleys). We exited, and had our taxi driver waiting with a sign with my name on - a first for me!

Return - 11/05/08
KM100 MLA-LHR
9H-AEI
A320

After a really nice break in Malta, it was time to head home. The flight was due to depart at 07.15, so the shuttle company arranged a hotel pickup for 04.15! We checkout out and went to the dining room for an early breakfast (they had a limited selection for early risers) and someone else there asked if I was Mr ...! I replied that I was, it turns out he was the taxi driver due to take us back to the airport, having a bite himself. We had a light bite (I had tea and a croissant, my wife coffee and some ham and cheese) before we left. This driver didn't seem as good as the other one - maybe because of the early start, be we were drifting over the road, narrowly missed perhaps the onlt other car about on a roundabout (this was 4.30am!) and he was reading text messages on his phone.

We arrived at the airport at around 4.45, before the checkin opened for London. Already the airport was busy, with flights to Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, and the BA flight to Gatwick. We had to check in manually at the desk, as we didn't have net access at the hotel (or rather, there was no printer to print out the boarding passes). Fortunately we were allocated seats on the right, by a window, but a bit further back - 16E and F. From the checkin zone in MLA, you pass through security then go upstairs to the departure lounge. We went to a cafe, and had some coffee (wife) and juice (me). There's even a Playmobil shop there - apparently there's a factory on the island. One thing to note at MLA, there is a smoking area in the departure lounge - or rather, outside! Next to the cafe, there's an outdoor terrace with a few tables, large umbrellas and fences blocking you in! You can just about see part of the apron from there, but not much, as it is at the side of the building, set a bit back from the main apron. We had to pass through passport control to get to the non-shengen gates. Here there was a small duty free shop and another cafe, but we just waited for our boarding.

On being called, we found it was a bus boarding gate, so we dutifully boarded the bus. When it was full it set off. It seemed like it was driving to the ferry terminal, it took that long to reach the aircraft! We passed other Air Malta A320s, and a pair of Saudi Cargo MD-11s. It should be noted at this point that it was very windy, and for the last few days up to gale force 7-8 (we'd had a boat trip cancelled). We all boarded and took our seats. You may recall earlier that my wife sat by the window - she does this as she gets terribly airsick.

Now, when the plane started its takeoff roll, I noticed that the wind was directly from the side - a strong crosswind. We started off, and we could feel the sideways movement whilst accelerating down the runway. The sideways jerking movement was getting stronger, then we took off - quickly gained height but there was plenty of turbulence. My wife was starting to feel quite ill. The breakfast service started, scrambled egg, beans and a hash brown. My wife's was scrambled egg, bacon and broccoli! She didn't eat anything except the fruit salad, and that came back up later... I had her bacon.

By this time she was feeling very bad. We had a barf bag full, and the purser came over - she was incredibly kind, and understanding. She took the bag and gave us some more, offered water, and then said "please wait one moment"... she came back a few moments later and asked if my wife would like to lay down. She said sure, it may help, so they went together to the last row of business class (that was empty). As much as I felt for her, I spent the rest of the flight looking out of the window.

Towards the end of the flight, my wife came back. She was looking much better, but still not 100%. We approached from Kent, we could see the Dungeuoness power station, flew due west to the south of London, then did a 180 near Reading, and came in for a textbook landing on 09L. The taxi to Terminal 4 was quite long, and we had to wait for ages for a previous flight to vacate the stand. During this time, I noted the BA 777, this time tailless (!). I also got my first real life glimpse of the A380, in Singapore Airlines colours, from across the runway! We eventually pulled onto stand, and disembarked.

The route from stand to passport control in T4 is a bit of a maze, including over a road bridge. We noticed spikes on the window ledges, to deter pigeons - and some round balls of fluff on them. Does anyone know if they are dead pigeons that landed too hard, or other random stuff (rags etc)? We waited for ages for our bags, but they eventually arrived, and we headed to the tube. On arriving at Liverpool St Station, we noticed that the Norwich train was replaced by a bus between Colchester and Ipswich, so rather than pfaff around there we got some lunch at M&S (salads - they do some very nice ones) and got on a Cambridge train that left shortly afterwards, and changed there for Norwich.

Conclusions

Overall, I was very impressed with Air Malta. A new fleet, and very professional staff - to the extent of being extrememly friendly and helpful on the return leg. All this for £78 each return, tax included, made for a bargain trip! (was about £5 more than Ryanair or Easyjet, but included meals and better timed flights). I wouldn't hesitate to travel with them again. Another question about the carrier though. In their magazine, they have their "Direct destinations" list that includes New York (Newark) daily, but they only have A320s - is this a codeshare? Who flies the route? Thanks.

Thanks for reading, comments welcome!

signol


Flights booked: none :(
12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSemsem From Israel, joined Jul 2005, 1779 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 9068 times:

I loved Malta and Gozo. Flew on Alitalia. Thanks for the report. Wanted to fly on Air Malta but I had a free ticket on AZ.

User currently offlineJamman From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 142 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 9041 times:

Great Trip report, sounds like Air Malta are still doing a good job, I've flown with them back in the 90's and it was a good service on the old 737-200's.

Quoting Signol (Thread starter):
New York (Newark) daily, but they only have A320s - is this a codeshare?

Air Malta have agreements with Delta, Northwest and Virgin Atlantic for connections.



Phoning it in from a place with no phones.
User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8492 posts, RR: 55
Reply 3, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 8812 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Nice report, thanks.

KM sound pretty neat on these 2 flights, meals sound ok too.

Quoting Signol (Thread starter):
Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean. Tons of history, some very nice beaches, cuisine, and pretty towns

- Always wanted to visit here, got any pix you can post?

Quoting Signol (Thread starter):
the shuttle company arranged a hotel pickup for 04.15! We checkout out and went to the dining room for an early breakfast (they had a limited selection for early risers) and someone else there asked if I was Mr ...! I replied that I was, it turns out he was the taxi driver due to take us back to the airport, having a bite himself.

- Good to see the hotel is offering some form of catering for those early departures. Interesting to see the driver already there and eating himself!

Regards

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineGpbcroppers63 From Ireland, joined Jan 2008, 519 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 8739 times:



Quoting Signol (Thread starter):
As much as I felt for her, I spent the rest of the flight looking out of the window.

Spoken like a true a.nutter  bigthumbsup . An absolutely classic line! Really enjoyed the report. KM certainly sound like a good airline. May have to give them a go at some point in the fairly near future.



According to one of my colleagues, my problem is that I'm addicted to travel!
User currently offlineAviationMaster From Switzerland, joined Oct 1999, 2479 posts, RR: 34
Reply 5, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 8718 times:

Nice trip report! Brought back memories from my flight on KM last Summer.

Quoting Signol (Thread starter):
he was reading text messages on his phone

 rotfl 

I guess you had the same taxi driver as I had when I travelled to Malta past July. Although, my driver was reading and texting messages on TWO phones while taking the occasional sip from his water bottle - all of this in a manual car. Big grin


User currently offlineUK_Dispatcher From United Arab Emirates, joined Dec 2001, 2589 posts, RR: 30
Reply 6, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 8010 times:

Interesting report. It sounds like KM are a pleasant airline to fly.

The aircraft you flew out on, 9H-AEQ, is actually back from a recent lease to Etihad Airways. I flew the same aircraft a couple of months ago from BAH-AUH. Being quite a new aircraft the cabin was very neat.



User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26847 posts, RR: 58
Reply 7, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 7969 times:

Hey there nice TR. Its been years since I flew with KM. Its funny because I actually did the same route LGW-MLA-LHR as the times suited me better.

Nice to hear they are still a good airline .

OA260


User currently offlineSignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 2992 posts, RR: 8
Reply 8, posted (6 years 2 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 7620 times:

Here are some pictures...

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=36597&l=b3aa8&id=622281081

[hope that works! It's a public album]

signol



Flights booked: none :(
User currently offline22886 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 404 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (6 years 2 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 7546 times:

hi, great trip report and nice photos too! Looks like we were in Malta at the same time, we probably even walked past each other at some point! I have some of the exact same photos as yours. Tell me about the winds... we also had our ferry cancelled. Originally we wanted to take the ferry to Catania on a Sat 10th May, but that had to be rescheduled to the Tue 13th, the day before our flight, which meant getting the 5am ferry, getting back to Malta at midnight and then getting the 5am flight ...really tiring.

Air Malta sounds good, especially with the hot meal which you don't get on BA in Y, seems they had much better loads too, as both the outbound and inbound flights on BA were pretty empty.

The two Saudi MD-11F's you saw, I also saw one of them whilst in Malta. That one had been there already for a few days due to technical problems and couldn't fly back out, the Saudi cargo flights are quite regular I heard.

Vin


User currently offlineSignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 2992 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (6 years 2 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 7493 times:



Quoting 22886 (Reply 9):

We quite possible did! We spent the day in Valetta on the 8th. The high gardens looking over the Grand Harbour had a podium set up, with Maltese and French flags, and a single policeman there keeping people away rfom it!
We were due to go on a boat to the Blue Lagoon on the Saturday 10th, but it was cancelled, hence the trip on the big car ferry to Gozo.

I'd certainly recommend Air Malta! They state that you get a hot meal on flights over 3h - the London flights are timed at 3h 05m! And certainly almost full, though both were more reasonalble times of the day than your BA flights.

signol



Flights booked: none :(
User currently offlineAirthanet From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2009, 95 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 5959 times:

Hi Signol,

just read your trip report and it looked like you enjoyed the KM service as well - especially the meals.

Where did you stay on the island? did you visit Medina or the showpiece event "Knights of Malta" by any chance?

The Maltese drivers are probably the worst in Europe I think.....

Nice TR!



Recently Flown Airlines: Air Malta (KM), My Travel (MYT), First Choice (FCA), Swiss (LX), Virgin Atlantic (VS), Monarch
User currently offlineSignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 2992 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 5863 times:



Quoting Airthanet (Reply 11):

Hi Airthanet,

We only had 3 days so unfortunately didn't visit either of those  Sad Medina was on our list for the Valetta day but we enjoyed the capital enough to stay there longer!

We stayed in the Riu Seabank on Mellieha Bay. We had one day visiting Mosta and Valetta, one day on Gozo, and the third seeing Mellieha village and St Paul's Bay.

Thanks

signol



Flights booked: none :(
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