ycp81 From Singapore, joined Jun 2006, 347 posts, RR: 0 Posted (5 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 6320 times:
My 1st TR of the new year! My last flight in 2012 and first flight in 2013 would be on a seldom flown and reported airline, Myanmar Airways International. A month ago, I was searching for cheap flights to Bangkok over the New Year period but most budget airlines were selling flights from the mid S$200s to more than S$300, when I chanced upon Myanmar Airways International (MAI), offering daily flights on the SIN-BKK route at a very low price of S$240 all-in! A very good deal considering MAI is supposed to be a full-service carrier. Apparently, other than the daily RGN-SIN-RGN flights, MAI has also restarted the RGN-BKK-SIN route, offering 5th-freedom flights on the SIN-BKK-SIN sectors. MAI has also leased 2 A320s from BH Air of Bulgaria to operate the new flights and launch additional flights. It is not everyday that one has a chance to fly on MAI and so the flights were booked in no time!
MAI does not offer online check-in service at the moment and so check-in has to be done manually at the check-in counters at Terminal 1. Even though the flight is listed as operating to Yangon via BKK, in actual fact the flight is terminating in BKK and would only operate onwards to RGN on the same flight number the following morning from BKK. It appears that MAI has launched this route solely to cater to SIN-BKK vv passengers. However I am not sure how MAI can be competitive with only 1x daily flight on the route. Guess MAI would compete on price.
There were 4 desks opened for check-in, but all were almost empty. According to the check-in agent, the flight was very light. Surprising, considering that quite a number of Singaporeans would fly up to BKK for the new year. Guess MAI needs to do a lot more promotions for this flight!
Boarding pass, printed on SATS generic card.
Did some spotting after clearing immigration. Thai A346 also flying to BKK, 15min before us.
2 Scoots here! Big brother SQ taxiing pass.
Jetstar A320 at gate C11.
My flight landed from BKK slightly behind schedule.
Turning into Gate C13. LZ-BHH, which is leased from BH Air, would be operating the flight.
30 December 2012
Myanmar Airways International
Singapore (SIN) - Bangkok (BKK)
LZ-BHH (leased from BH Air)
Went to the gate about 30min prior to departure. Judging by the number of pax at the gate, the load on this flight was really low! The flight should not be more than 50% full.
A shot of LZ-BHH at the gate.
Boarding was soon announced by row numbers, but was soon free-for-all with the low load. Was welcomed at the door by a Burmese MAI female purser (dressed in orange traditional Burmese MAI uniform), a male MAI crew and a Bulgarian BH Air crew. Later on, I learnt that the BH Air crew is mainly to oversee the safety aspects of the flight. There were a total of 5 Burmese MAI crew (3 ladies, 2 guys) and a BH Air crew on the flight. Pilots were also from BH Air.
This leased A320 is fitted in an all-economy 180 seats layout and was used previously by IndiGo. However the cabin is still very well-kept and fresh. Seats are all in blue cloth upholstery.
Initially I was assigned at seat 15F. View from the window.
Legroom at row 15. Not too generous, but slightly better than budget airlines. However the design of the seat ensures that my legs could be stretched under the seat in front.
Bulgarian translations. Interesting.
In the seat pocket were Mingalabar inflight magazine, duty-free magazine, safety card and an airsick bag.
Still waiting for everyone to be onboard.
Crew distributed refreshing towelettes while waiting for pushback.
MAI refreshing paper towel.
10 minutes prior to departure, doors were closed and welcome announcements were given in only English. There would be no Burmese nationals on this flight as the plane would be night-stopping in Bangkok. Interestingly, the purser sounded suspiciously Singaporean... Later I learned that she used to work with Jetstar Asia. No wonder the Singaporean accent. Flight time announced as 2hrs and safety demonstration was performed manually. No inflight entertainment gadgets on this plane. Load was definitely less than 50%.
We had a very long taxi to Rwy 02C for takeoff today. Passing the closed Budget Terminal. The aircraft parking lots are now used as remote bays.
Still climbing. We cleared the rainy clouds just shortly after departure.
Seeing the emergency seat row at row 13 was occupied, I immediately moved over right after the seatbelt signs were switched off. Luxury!!
More Bulgarian translations.
Immediately after seatbelt signs were switched off, the crew came down the aisle with a trolley of newspapers with choices of Straits Times, Bangkok Post, and a few other selections. This would be the only "inflight entertainment" apart from the inflight magazine. Immigration forms were handed out too. For passengers who require pillows/blankets, these were also available upon request (I found out about this only on the return flight) but the pillows/blankets were collected back towards the end of the flight.
Next up, the main event aka meal service. A full meal would be served on this flight along with a selection of drinks. 2 carts rolled down the aisle with 2 crew manning each cart. Meal service was efficient, in fact too efficient, as the crew seemed so hurried even though the flight was very empty. It felt as if the crew were trying to serve a meal on a SIN-KL 30min flight!
On offer today were either Chicken with potatoes or Fish with rice. The drinks on offer on the cart top included orange juice, coke, "Myanmar"-branded beer, water (bottled, not airplane) and coffee/tea. Not sure if any wines or other soft drinks/juices are available.
My meal tray. On the meal tray were also a jelly dessert and drinking water. I had an orange juice and a beer to go along.
Contents revealed. The meals seemed catered from SIN, judging from the drinking water packing.
Chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables. Tasted very "airplaney".
Fish with egg fried rice and vegetables. This choice was delicious!
"Myanmar" beer and a jelly dessert. The dessert was not satisfying enough.
The brand of beer that was served.
After distribution of trays, crew came down with the cart again to offer coffee/tea or more drinks top-ups. I had a tea to end the meal.
Overall, MAI crew service was average. Definitely not up to SQ/TG standards but still acceptable. Other than the "Jetstar-trained" purser, the rest of the MAI crew seemed very reserved, with minimal interaction with passengers other than the necessary. The sole Bulgarian BH Air crew only assisted with the clearing of meal trays towards the end of meal service. Meal trays were collected barely 45min after takeoff. Nothing much else to do except browsing the inflight magazine. Looks like MAI is looking at expanding their network further in the near future, including SIN-CGK and SIN-Mandalay routes!
After the meal service, the crew remained in the galley mainly for the rest of the flight, only appearing to check on seatbelts when the seatbelt signs came on. Not sure about their response to call-buttons as no one seemed to press it. The set of crew would operate 3 sectors today, RGN-BKK-SIN-BKK, night-stop in BKK, and operate the final BKK-RGN sector early next morning.
View of the clean and tidy cabin from the rear.
Empty emex row at row 12.
My only form of entertainment, watching the clouds go by....
Soon, we started our descend into Bangkok. Cabin was secured halfway through the descent and we headed towards the airport from the south.
Not much of a hold as it was not the peak period and we landed at Rwy 01L at 1717hrs BKK time, 15min ahead of schedule. A Tiger and a SQ flight from SIN also landed within 5 minutes before us. Wow, that made it 4 flights from Singapore (TG/TR/SQ/8M) within 20mins! Apologies for the fogged up window. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nG0oU5zB3Q
As the plane would be night-stopping in BKK, we parked at a remote stand and had to be bussed to the terminal. Not that I minded!
Waiting for disembarkation.
Just exiting the plane.
Down the stairs.
Chance to catch some planes from the tarmac! A unique Russian airline, Orenair (Orenburg Airlines)!
Vietnam Airlines A321
ANA, BA and El Al resting before their flights later in the evening.
Thankfully, there were no queues at immigration and I was through within 5 minutes!! A record for me at BKK!
However still have to wait for luggage though.
Myanmar Airways International still have quite a long way to go to match the standards of the major Asian carriers. As a young and expanding carrier with high ambitions in the near future, it has mainly achieved the basics of a full-service carrier but would have to do more to improve its service offerings (such as IFE, better quality meals and amenities, more responsive crew, better frequent-flyer programmes) and change the public perceptions of the airline (my colleagues were going "Are you crazy? Eeww!" when I informed them that I would be flying MAI) so that it would achieve similar status as the major airlines i the region. Other than that, MAI is certainly an interesting airline to fly on and is definitely value-for-money!
My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 2512 posts, RR: 13 Reply 1, posted (5 months 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 6064 times:
Nice to see what MAI are like...kinda what I expected. Full service without the 5* staff.
Quoting ycp81 (Thread starter): It appears that MAI has launched this route solely to cater to SIN-BKK vv passengers.
Hmm, a lot of longhual airlines have dropped this tag on over the years. Clearly, MAI think that they can get better yields out of it than other airlines have, or are a better use of plan than flying out of RGN. Good luck to them!
abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 4919 posts, RR: 55 Reply 3, posted (5 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5119 times:
Thanks for putting up this report as there is a dearth of MAI reports out there. Anyways, I think it is acceptable for the stage length, though I agree on your assessment of the chicken meal option . Will be interesting to see how their expansion holds up.
ycp81 From Singapore, joined Jun 2006, 347 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (5 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 4307 times:
4 nights in Bangkok and my first short getaway in 2013 has ended. The return MAI flight departs at such a not-so-good timing of 1140am as MAI operates only one flight a day on the route. The plane, which seemed to be based in BKK, would depart early in the morning as 8M336 to RGN, which is a continuation of the previous day's SIN-BKK sector, and return to BKK as 8M335 and then continuing to SIN after a 1+hr stopover in BKK.
Arrived at the airport about 1.5hrs before the flight, to find all 4 MAI check-in counters almost empty. Looked like it would again be a near empty flight! Check-in was handled by Thai Airways ground staff and was efficient.
Asked about the load, with the check-in agent replying that it was very light. So I tried my luck and requested for seats at Row 13, the emex row, and was immediately allocated seats there! Score! Again, boarding pass was printed on a generic pass stock.
03 January 2013
Myanmar Airways International
Bangkok (BKK) - Singapore (SIN)
LZ-BHH (leased from BH Air)
Through security and immigration, which was not too bad, and proceeded into the terminal. We would be departing form Gate F1 today and so was not too long a walk. The plane had already arrived back from Yangon and was being prepared for the flight. Boarding gate was almost empty and I barely counted 30 passengers.
LZ-BHH would again be operating the flight today.
Boarding was called shortly, as usual by rows, but ended up as free-for-all due to the very light load. I estimated probably only around 50 pax on the flight. There appeared also to be a small number of transit pax from RGN. Walking down the aerobridge, Mandala and KLM were parked beside.
Again welcomed at the door by a MAI purser. The sole BH Air Bulgarian attendant was again the same lady as on my inbound flights. There were also 4 other MAI crew. 2 guys and 2 ladies, each lady in their blue and green MAI uniforms respectively, not sure what the blue and green coloured uniforms stands for. Rank? I am quite sure the orange uniform is worn by the purser. Proceeded to my seat at row 13 again and enjoying the wonderful legroom!
Interestingly, no crew member came over and brief on the use of the emergency exit doors at the 2 emex rows unlike other carriers that operate A320s. This was also noticed on the previous flight.
At the gate and waiting for the last passengers.
Welcome announcement was given by the purser, followed by distribution of wet towelettes. Burmese announcements were made on this flight as there were a small number of transit passengers from Yangon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIdpL5J9WoI
Pushing back 5 mins ahead of schedule with safety demo performed manually. The BH Air attendant made the safety brief announcements. This was followed by Burmese announcement by the MAI crew.
Taxied to Rwy 01L to takeoff. TG's A346, also bound for SIN, took off 2 planes ahead of us.
Climbing along the coast to our cruising altitude of 37,000ft.
Lunch is served!
Again, 2 carts used, with 2 crew members to a cart. Service today was not as rushed as on the previous flight.
2 choices offered. Fish with noodles or chicken with rice. The meal tray again came with only dessert and water. Catering was done by LSG Catering in Bangkok.
The fish with noodles option with orange juice and beer.
It tasted average! Not too bad, but not something to tempt the tastebuds with. And portion could be bigger.
Chicken with rice option. Not any better but sufficient to fill the stomach.
A very creamy cake for dessert! Nice!
After the first round of meals and drinks, crew came round again with second round of drinks offering and coffee/tea. I had a coffee.
And again a third round of drinks during tray collection. The captain also came on with some information about the flight. Again, meal service was completed within 45min after takeoff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXZDKlfnDPg
Cruising at 37,000ft. It was very cloudy.
Made the obligatory lavatory visit. Rows of empty seats at the rear of the plane.
Lavatory only had the basics. Nothing more. But it was clean.
Newspaper trolley parked at the last row, with a diverse selection available.
Cabin from the rear.
Seat pitch at the last few rows.
With nothing much else to do, I took a quick nap and when I woke up, we were already starting our descent along the coast of Peninsular Malaysia
Made some turns to avoid the storm clouds.
The descent was rather bumpy with sudden clouds as we flew through the clouds.
Changi spotted! The earlier TG A346 could also be seen landing on the runway.
Lionair B739ER waiting to be pushed back and TG A346 which had just landed.
Air Asia in a special livery!
Parked at D30, one of the nearest gate to immigration.
With its service offerings, I think Myanmar Airways International would be classified under a 3-Star airline. It might not win any awards as yet in the near future, but is certainly a decent enough airline to fly on. Hopefully this trip report would give you an idea of the offerings onboard one of the more "exotic" airline in the south-east asian region, Myanmar Airways International. Thanks for reading and your comments are much welcomed.
Yep, MAI crew still has a distance to reach the standards of 5* carriers.
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1): Hmm, a lot of longhual airlines have dropped this tag on over the years. Clearly, MAI think that they can get better yields out of it than other airlines have, or are a better use of plan than flying out of RGN. Good luck to them!
Guess this route might be seasonal to take advantage of the holidaying crowd. According to the crew, the flight is usually quite full duing the school holiday period. Their flight definitely could not cater for the business travellers.
Quoting debonair (Reply 2): Yeap and it is brilliant to read from such "exotic" airline too!
Guess this is only the 2nd or 3rd review of MAI here.
dirktraveller From Singapore, joined Jan 2011, 224 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (5 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 3211 times:
Thanks for showing us MAI, an airline that isn't really often being featured in A-net TRs. Seems MAI offers a decent service for the route, although it is not comparable to others serving SIN-BKK route like TG, SQ, or maybe CX.
Quoting ycp81 (Thread starter): Looks like MAI is looking at expanding their network further in the near future, including SIN-CGK and SIN-Mandalay routes!
Their route expansion seems really interesting, hopefully they open up that SIN-CGK route soon. Maybe then I would stand a chance to experience MAI.