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
, as well as by regional carriers such as UU
. 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
, 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
on the ATR 72-500, MAN
on B767 and 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.
, 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
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
I hope you enjoyed reading my first trip report!