TM 315: Maputo to Johannesburg
As part of a recent vacation in South Africa and Mozambique, I was booked on South African Airways flight from MPM to JNB that turned out to be operated by LAM Mozambique Airlines. LAM is the flag carrier of Mozambique and has undergone significant upgrades over the last few years in order to support its country's booming economy. The have re-branded themselves, upgraded the fleet with new Embraer 190 and Bombardier Q400 aircraft, and launched new flights to Luanda and Nairobi and soon Lisbon.
The International Terminal at the Maputo Airport is brand new, opening in December 2010 after many delays. The Chinese-built terminal is a great improvement over the former Marxist-era terminal but I really was not particularly impressed. It thought it was very sterile and generic with all of its glass and marble; nothing about it really screamed “Welcome to Mozambique.”
Airport Entry and Lobby
I arrived at MPM at 1530H for my 1730H flight. The check-in for TM315 has just opened at 1524 so there was a short queue. I had my baggage plastic wrapped since the service was only 100 Meticais ($3). When I tried to check-in with the agent he could not find my reservation. He eventually had to call the LAM sales office (the check-in staff are not LAM employees) and they sent someone over with a copy of my reservation and he was able to issue my MPM-JNB boarding pass and check my bags to JFK.
I passed passport control without any problems but I was shocked at how lax security was in MPM. The entire terminal only has one metal detector (that must be horrible when the TAP flights are full) and the staff didn't seem to care much if it went off or not. I forgot my mobile phone was in my pocket and set off the detector but I was just waived through once I showed the security officer my phone.
Photo © SkyMember
My plane to JNB, C9-EMB "Chiloane"
After wandering around the 3-gate terminal for about an hour my flight was finally called to board. For some reason the staff did not use the loudspeaker and just decided to yell at the top of their lungs in Portuguese. Through passengers from Pemba were boarded first and then the rest of us.
TM315 had a crew of five. Two expatriate pilots, a male Mozambican purser, and one younger male and one younger female Mozambican F/A. I came to realize later on in the flight that the male FA was the purser's son as they looked almost exactly alike except for the 20 year age difference. I was greeted at the door by the purser, who checked my boarding pass and directed me to my seat.
Winglet shot. The younger FA was not as evil as he looks in the Pic.
LAM's seats were very comfortable with at least 33 inches of seat pitch. LAM's E90 has the exactly same interior configuration as Air Canada's (minus the PTV's) with 9 business class seats and 84 economy seats. Each seat had a paper headrest cover and a safety card and a copy of LAM's Indiço
magazine in each seat back pocket. The flight was about 75% full.
The flight pushed back on-time and after a Portuguese and somewhat indecipherable English safety demonstration we taxied to the runway and took-off. The climb out was very turbulent but smoothed out after about 15 minutes. The service on this flight consisted of a small snack and beverage. The “Flamingo Club” snack box consisted of a small Chicken and Mayo sandwich and a full sized chocolate bar (it was in Arabic, so I cannot tell you what brand).
The inflight entertainment consisted of reading the Indiço magazine and watching the Purser and a very arrogant DYKWIA European passenger in 18A basically get into a fight. The argument was all in Portuguese so I'm not sure what it was about but I could tell the passenger was being very rude and condescending by his tone and body language. At one point, the passenger stuck his finger in the Purser's face but the Purser handled it well by just walking away; unlike me who probably would have pimp slapped the guy after that. The Indiço magazine was interesting because it has a bizarre article where they interviewed random people in the Maputo and Johannesburg airports about their thoughts on LAM. Almost every single one of them said LAM is an mediocre airline and they need to be on-time more often. I was very surprised LAM actually printed that!
As MPM-JNB is only a 45 minute flight, we were descending into JNB before I knew it. We touched down at 1830H and were on the stand at 1837H, 7 minutes late, but acceptable. LAM uses remote gates exclusively at JNB so we deplaned via stairs and were bussed to the terminal.
On the stand in JNB.
Overall, I would say I had a good experience on LAM. They have to be losing money on the MPM-JNB route as the fares are extremely low. LAM has been having 0 ZAR and 10 ZAR plus tax airfare sales regularly since the entry of 1time into the market but I commend them for upgrading their product in the face of competition not moving down to the competition's level.
Their FA's could use a remedial English course but that was the only fault that I found. It was clean, comfortable, and on-time. LAM is one of the up and coming carriers in Africa, I am looking forward to seeing them expand and prosper in the upcoming years.