Thanks for joining me on this third installment of the TR on my journey to Oman.
If the site’s search engine works properly and if I looked thoroughly enough, then this should be the first TR on WY domestic service on A.net.
The previous part ended with me arriving at MCT. Take a leap in time, fast forward ten days and the guided tour comes to an end, with those returning home along with yours truly taking this flight from Salalah in the southwestern Omani region of Dhofar to Muscat.
Map generated by GreatCircle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz
After a short bus ride from the hotel along in-city plantations of coconut palms, banana and papaya trees we arrived at SLL at about 9:00.
Check-in and security control were a swift affair and soon we were airside. Our guide had made sure that those of us who were not continuing immediately to Germany passed through the domestic id control while those headed from MCT back to FRA and MUC went through passport control here.
I was awaiting this particular flight with great anticipation since it was scheduled to be on an EMB-175 – my first ride on this type! However, on the apron was this…
…and the FIDS showed only one flight to MCT at the time of our scheduled departure. Well, we all had our boarding passes so I came to terms with the fact that we’d be taking this B737-800 instead. There was something that had me worrying though: There were far more people in the gate area than would possibly fit into even a B738. The Eid al-Adha holidays were coming to an end and lots of people were returning to MCT after spending the Christmas-like festivities (or so we were told) with their families.
All of a sudden a flight was called for boarding, but only in Arabic, and a throng of women dressed in mostly black abayas and dishdasha-clad men got themselves ready to walk to the plane. Our guide, however, remained the personified calm and stayed put in the smoking room without loosing his cool. So this was evidently NOT our flight.
Once the gate area had cleared again, there were only several groups of tourists and a few other people remaining and then our flight was called for boarding in both Arabic and English. It turned out that the huge demand had WY sending an additional plane to operate a special flight and our scheduled Embraer was parked hidden just behind the Boeing. What struck me most was how the passengers were separated: locals on one plane, tourists and ‘expats’ on the other.
Airline: Oman Air
STD/ATD: 10:30/10:25 (off stand)
As I couldn’t get a decent full-side photo of our plane, we’ll all have to make do with a couple of photos of sister ships available in the Airliners.net data base (no photo of A40-EC in there yet):
Photo © Roberto Falciola
Photo © Josh May
Since our plane was parked 75 meters away from the terminal, we were bussed from the gate to the bottom of the airstairs.
I can’t get enough of this livery. Can you?
Does this count as an ‘under-the-wing’ shot?
My seat wasn’t too hard to find: last row, left window:
Legroom was decent enough for such a short flight:
Does that include cameras?
While the boarding process continued, the WY B738 parked next to us had left for its flight to MCT and this rare beauty had taken her place on the tarmac – ERJ-175 A40-CX of the Royal Oman Police Air Wing:
At 10:20 boarding was completed and the captain came on the speaker to welcome the passengers and give some information on today’s flight. We would be cruising at FL340 on this 1:15 hour long hop to MCT.
By 10:25 the doors had been closed, the engines started and we were off stand to take the active rwy 25 from which we lifted off right on schedule at 10:30.
Crop plantations within the otherwise quite desertic city of Salalah, shortly after take-off:
A lazy left turn put us on course in a northeasterly direction, initially along the coastline:
These jungle jets are equipped with PTV’s, so there can’t possibly overcome any boredom in flight:
Let’s check out the seat pocket contents:
Once the fasten seatbelt sign had been turned off the cabin crew comprised of flight attendants Laura and Tahar started their service run:
The tray placed courteously on each passengers table contained a hot apple and cinnamon pastry much like the ones you might get at McD’s, a fruit punch and water:
Note the punched-out logo…
…and the subliminal suggestion to try out any of the destinations in WY’s network:
The windows are really huge:
But the view outside was somewhat monotonous at times. The desert must been seen from up close to appreciate all the different details, from this far up it looks dull.
That’s where the PTV with its choice of music, TV programs (the flight was too short to attempt viewing any feature film) and the airshow was a very welcome distraction. Less than halfway to go:
Upon getting closer to MCT the landscape turned more interesting as the mountain ranges came into view and the soil showed some structure:
Top of descent from FL350 was about 190 km out of Muscat at 11:23 while flying along the Jabal Nakhl mountain range.
And soon thereafter we were already abeam MCT:
Coming in on long final and flying parallel to Sultan Qaboos Highway:
Upon seeing the highway and street network nowadays it is hard to believe that just 40 years ago there were just 10 km of hard-surface road in all of Oman.
Landed on runway 26 at 11:45, 20 minutes ahead of schedule:
From our apron position we were bussed to the terminal where our ways parted: the travel group and our guide headed for their connecting flights while I made my way to domestic arrivals, baggage claim and the exit to meet my school friend and his family, who I had last seen 8 years ago while they were living in Madrid.
It was a great reunion and we had a lot of fun over the next 4 days. But wait, there is still more flying to come!