PieterBoth From Mauritius, joined Jan 2010, 85 posts, RR: 0 Posted (5 years 2 days ago) and read 14487 times:
So, this is my 2nd attempt to post my 1st trip report, hopefully the photos appear this time
After some years following this website, I decided to sign up, I hope this first trip report is interesting!
Route: Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU) – Ivato International Airport (TNR)
Airline: Air Mauritius
Flight Time: 1h55
Air Mauritius, the national carrier of Mauritius, has 5 flights per week to the Malagasy capital, Antananarivo. Usually this flight is operated by A319 equipment, however, for some reason my flight turned out to be on one of MK’s six A340-300s which was a nice surprise.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is the official name for Mauritius’ main airport which is known simply as Plaisance (and was the official name until renamed in honour of the first Prime Minister of the country).
The Airport has undergone renovations in recent years, notably the arrivals area and departure lounges. The Airport receives a large amount of widebody traffic, being served by MK, BA, AF, GJ, HM, SS and EK, as well as by regional carriers such as UU, MD, SA and MN. A new project was announced in 2009 for the construction of an impressive looking new Terminal 2 by Aeroports de Paris:
Anyway, back to the flight… at MRU, once you enter the terminal building to check-in, there is no going back. Thus, only travelling passengers can enter the Terminal – friends and relatives have to say goodbye outside. Once inside the check-in hall, you then have to place all your luggage (hand luggage and hold-luggage) on to the security screener. Needless to say, as MRU is a long haul holiday destination, and with the Mauritian penchant to carry everything including the kitchen sink, almost everyone has huge suitcases to load onto the scanner. The result is usually a long queue trailing in the hall, and this time was no exception. Once scanned, I went over to the check-in desk. Air Mauritius has Economy check-in desks and Premium check-in desks. This was the first time in my life I was not travelling in Economy (ok, except for BRU-EMA on BD, but not counting that as the whole ERJ is supposed to be business on that route and they charge through the nose for it as well). Somehow work had booked a Business ticket for me, I’m not sure how or why, and I only realized when I got to the airport Check-in was swift and I then proceeded through immigration. Again, like the luggage scanning prior to check-in, the need to fill in forms and whatnot leads to lengthy queues at the best of times when going through to the departure lounge.
Once through, I wandered around the duty-free shops which sell the usual last minute souvenirs like dodo toys, Mauritian tea and rum, smoked marlin and every kind of holiday niknak you can think of. There is a nice view of the apron and the runway too. I decided to go to the Air Mauritius lounge, called the Amédée Maingard Lounge. I had used the BD lounge in BRU before, and also the AF lounge in CDG (I had gone to the desk to ask if they could put my Flying Blue points on my card as I had forgotten to ask at check-in, and the guy said I could use the lounge Anyway, out of these three lounges, I have to say the Air Mauritius lounge was the best. It was calm, had walm colours, really friendly staff and the food was good (Mauritian cakes, fruit, every kind of drink etc). I really wanted to take some photos, but was a bit embarrassed
When the flight was called, I left the lounge to the gate. This is another problem in the current terminal building at MRU. When there is more than one long haul flight departing (and this happens regularly), the departure lounge becomes very crowded. Boarding can also be a bit random with passengers generally congregating standing by the gate. I finally said goodbye to my beloved Mauritius and boarded my transport to La Grande Ile. I was very excited, as this was the first time I had turned left at the aircraft door It turned out the flight was very full in Economy, but in Business there were 4 of us! I was greeted by a Flight Attendant who offered to take my bag and put it in the overhead cabin, and asked if I would like a drink. The seat pitch was very good, and the seats were very comfortable. However, my seat did not seem to recline (I think it was broken?) But as there were only 4 of us in the cabin, I just changed seat.
This was my 4th time travelling on Air Mauritius, having previously flown MRU-ZSE-MRU on the ATR 72-500, MAN-MRU-MAN on B767 and LHR-MRU-LHR on one of MK’s legendary B747SPs back in 1989 when I was a kid.
Out on the tarmac, there was another MK A340-300 at the gates and an EK 777 parked remotely.
There was also a UU ATR 72-500 and an MK bird in the hangar.
Leaving MRU, you always pass Lion Mountain and fly over the Blue Bay Lagoon and Ile aux Aigrettes, a nature reserve.
Once we had taken off, the flight attendant who had greeted me came round with a menu for lunch, which offered a choice between tuna and chicken. When he came around again with the food, I chose tuna, but got a very apologetic response that they were out of tuna. Which was a bit surprising as I was only the second person served, so I guess they only had the chicken option loaded. The food was good, and the flight attendants came round with drinks top ups. We shortly flew past Ile de la Reunion, and I could see the peaks of the island.
After lunch, as there is not much to see out of the window between Mauritius and Madagascar except deep blue sea, I had a read of MK’s magazine, checked out the map, and listened to some music on the IFE. As it’s a short flight, there were no movies shown. The music channels played a variety of Mauritian, Malagasy, Reunionnais, African, Indian, French and English language music.
At last, I spotted the east coast of Madagascar.
The views of Madagascar from the air are truly awesome.
As we began our descent, you could see the houses in the suburbs of Antananarivo.
We eventually landed at Ivato Airport, the country’s main international airport.
There was an Air Madagascar 737 on the tarmac, as well as an MD 767 at the hangar, and some smaller MD ATR aircraft (the ATR seems very popular in the Indian Ocean with MD, MK and UU operating them – I wonder why?)
There are no airbridges at TNR, so it’s straight onto the tarmac and a walk into the terminal building. I went straight to collect my luggage at the carousel. The baggage reclaim area is small, so with a large flight was very crowded. Having already passed through immigration, on leaving the baggage reclaim area, I again had to show my passport and open my hand luggage to the police officers standing at the exit into the Arrivals hall. The Arrivals hall was very busy, but I spotted the hotel minibus driver. We waited for some other passengers and then walked to the minibus. Our suitcases were whipped off us by ported before we had the chance to say ‘no thanks’. I’ve never seen so many porters in my life.
The ride from Ivato the the hotel in the city was about half an hour, through rice paddy fields and suburbs. Arriving from Mauritius, it’s a drastic change!
As I was here for work, I was in meetings for most of the week, but managed to take some walks around the city during my lunch breaks and in the afternoon after we had finished. Antananarivo is a beautiful city, built on several hills, meaning you have to be fit to walk around, especially in the heat. There are some stunning views from the area around the Queen’s Palace of the city and the surrounding region. Public transport is not the greatest, mostly comprising of ‘Taxi-bé’s’ (basically 8 seater minibuses that cram as many people as possible through the back door).
The historic Queen's Palace:
Amazing views over Antananarivo:
...note the Queen's Palace on the hilltop overlooking the city and the 'Hollywood' style 'Antananarivo' letters on the hillside
Lake Anosy and the World War 2 Memorial:
Taxis are cheap, although the majority are 1950s/60s Renaults (which on one occasion ran out of petrol, and we had to get out and look for another one!). France has close ties with Madagascar and French business is everywhere, Orange, French cars, French banks, Air France...
My flight back to Europe was on Air France’s A340-300 service. The departure is at the ungodly hour of 01:35, meaning getting the hotel shuttle once again and driving through Antananarivo in almost pitch black (the city is not crime-ridden by any means, but at the same time, it’s a bit unnerving travelling in the middle of the night along dark roads). Anyway, we arrived at Ivato, greeted by what seemed to be hundreds of porters once again. The check-in hall was full with passengers for the AF flight, including about 20 young American missionaries carrying their bibles in hand, and the queue was very long to the desks. Even though I was there 2 hours before the departure time, I was still queuing for 45 minutes or so. At the desk, I asked for a window seat, but they had all gone so I ended up with…a middle seat in the middle 4
Once through security, I had a wander around the shops. They were all still open, selling Malagasy chocolate, vanilla, handicrafts, t-shirts etc. The flight was delayed by about an hour, and the departure lounge was hot, and not particularly pleasant (toilets were ‘downstairs’ and not nice). There was a café, full of smokers and not pleasant to sit in either. Finally it was time for boarding. The walk across the tarmac lead to another check of hand luggage just next to the aircraft.
Sorry about the extremeley bad quality of this photo! I was juggling my camera, rucksack and water
Once on board I sat down and fell asleep, waking up for take off and dinner, which I can’t really remember. Then I fell asleep again and woke up again just before we landed at CDG.
Waiting for my connecting flight to MAN. I love CDG's architecture here:
Antananarivo is a beautiful city, and I would love to return to Madagascar and see the rest of the country.
The short flight on MK was great – I would like to try them out long-haul once again (last time was 1999) and see how they are but they are usually more expensive than AF from Europe.
Kiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8657 posts, RR: 13
Reply 4, posted (5 years 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 13581 times:
Glad that you managed to work out the problem with the photos - they added a lot to your TR . I now really wish that I had had the time and the money while I was living in Mauritius to go to ANR . Would you mind adding in the dates of your flights when you get moment ? Thanks .
Moderation in all things ... including moderation ;-)
PieterBoth From Mauritius, joined Jan 2010, 85 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (5 years 17 hours ago) and read 12090 times:
Thanks for all your kind comments!
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 4): Would you mind adding in the dates of your flights when you get moment ? Thanks
hey Andrew, sure, it was just before the political crisis last January. So quite a while ago now. I was wondering, do you know if all MK's A340s been repainted in the new scheme? I know 'paille en queue' has.
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 8): Thanks for sharing, hope we see more in the future!
TheCommodore From Australia, joined Dec 2007, 3141 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (5 years 15 hours ago) and read 11998 times:
Great report. Thanks for sharing.
Glad you got the photos sorted out. Did you use Flikr in the end? My Air Mauritius TR needs to be deleted and re-uploaded as the photo links have failed as well. Aparently recent A.net site maintenance may have something to do with it according to site moderators.
Flown 905,468 kms or 2.356 times to the moon, 1296 hrs, Longest flight 10,524 kms
Kiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8657 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (5 years 12 hours ago) and read 11804 times:
Quoting PieterBoth (Reply 9): I was wondering, do you know if all MK's A340s been repainted in the new scheme? I know 'paille en queue' has.
As of a couple of weeks ago I think only one A340 and the most recently delivered A330 had the new scheme .
Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 11): I find MK's colors to be so classic and timeless. I can't believe they will be changing these!
I have to admit that I was not a huge fan of the old livery , but even less of the new one .... if they were going to put 4 wavy stripes on the fin I would have preferred them to be in the four colours of the Mauritian flag rather than the non-descript reddish-purple that they have gone for . I will admit that to me the revised flowing shape of the Paille-en-queue is better than the very angular version of old - for a bird the old logo looked very unaerodynamic
Moderation in all things ... including moderation ;-)
Antskip From Australia, joined Jan 2006, 936 posts, RR: 6
Reply 13, posted (5 years 6 hours ago) and read 11602 times:
I was also taken by the classic livery of MK - made me think of AI. The new livery is pretty unremarkable. Fascinating report, thank you! - especially for the very positive report and intriguing photos of Antananarivo!
Me too - I always thought it looked boring, but now I've seen the alternative and I take it all back!
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 12): I will admit that to me the revised flowing shape of the Paille-en-queue is better than the very angular version of old - for a bird the old logo looked very unaerodynamic
I actually prefer the unaerodynamic paille-en-queue The new one looks a bit lost on the fuselage ...
And I don't know what the obsession with the red is. It doesn't scream out tropical island to me. I always thought something like Air Tahiti Nui, lots of blue colours, or orange like the seats, would've looked nice.