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bluepoole
Topic Author
Posts: 53
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2005 10:01 pm

Johannesburg to Mauritius on Air Austral, via Reunion

Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:53 pm

Howdy folks!

Last month (December 2016) I went on holiday to the wonderful island of Mauritius. The cheapest airfare I could find was on Air Austral, flying via Reunion. Being an aviation nut, experiencing a new (to me) airport and airline sealed the deal and I booked my return ticket. For those interested, it cost me ZAR8000 (which, at the time of purchase, was equivalent to $570/€535)

The month before (November 2016) I travelled there and back directly on Air Mauritius, which I will perhaps cover in a separate trip report at a later stage.

Now first of all, this trip report is not as detailed as some others here on Airliners.net, and also does not include a lot of pictures. All photos were taken with my iPhone, as I did not take my SLR camera with me. Apologies in advance, but I thought it good to create the report anyway, since there are not too many reports on here covering Reunion/Mauritius, etc.

Flight 1:
Sunday, 18 December 2016
Air Austral, Boeing 737-800, F-ONGB
OR Tambo International Airport (JNB/FAOR) to Roland Garros Airport (RUN/FMEE)
Flight number UU342

We departed on time at 3pm local time, takeoff was from RWY03L and we turned east immediately towards Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Reaching Maputo the flight turned a little more northeast and from there it went over Madagascar, and then straight to Reunion.

The aircraft was tidy and clean inside, and the cabin crew were really very friendly and helpful. I was impressed with lunch – it was easily the best meal I ever had in an economy class of any airline. Although no choice was offered to me, it was of decent quality and taste. The tray consisted of chicken breast (stuffed with spinach) on rice, complemented by coleslaw, smoked salmon, and two bread rolls (cheese and butter were provided too). Dessert was apple crumble pie in custard and the snacks were cheese bites and two chocolate bars.

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Drinks were also offered, once with lunch and a second time later in the flight.

Each passenger received an amenity kit which consisted of a pair of headphones, earplugs, a sleeping mask and a pair of socks.
Air Austral’s 737’s do not have IFE in every seat, but rather monitors that drop from above (one monitor for every three rows). Some comedy series and a movie were displayed, and in the last 30min of flight it switched to the moving map with speed and altitude information.

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The “slimline” seats were not as comfortable as other airlines’ seats I’ve experienced, but they were not too bad...I don't know what the seat pitch is but the legroom was good (I'm 5'7" though, so average length)

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We landed at Reunion Airport exactly 3 hours 30min later (8:30pm local time), on RWY12.

Heading to the transfer queue/security checkpoint, I was last in line. All passengers needed to take their shoes off and the line moved pretty slowly. When it was my turn, the security agent asked me for my passport before I walked through the metal detector, and looked confused. She refused to speak English to me, and carried on in French (which I do not understand). She kept on mumbling something about “Maurice”, so I kept on nodding my head and saying, “Yes, I’m going to Mauritius”...she even turned around and had a conversation with one of the other agents, still looking confused. Eventually, without any further explanation, they let me through and I entered the International Departures.

Reunion Airport...what can I say? The little I’ve seen of it, did not impress me at all. I cannot comment on other parts of the terminal, seeing that I only ever experienced the international departures hall, but I had a few issues with it:

- No place to smoke (I do realize most public places do not cater for smoking, but it would have been nice if a smoking area would have been available – still, this was not too big of an issue to me)
- Only one counter where drinks were sold (queue way too long and moved too slow)
- Vending machines do not accept cards, and no cash machines anywhere to draw cash from
- The free wifi did not work, and nowhere could one ask anybody for assistance
- The hall is too small and feels very cramped
- Staff is rude and not keen to speak English
- No restaurants or coffee shops

I’m sure in other areas of the terminal the problems above are not an issue, but the departure hall should not have these issues anyway, because you could in theory spend a long time there.

Luckily, I only had to spend 30 minutes there, as we soon boarded the same aircraft again for the last leg to Mauritius.

Flight 2:
Sunday, 18 December 2016
Air Austral, Boeing 737-800, F-ONGB
Roland Garros Airport (RUN/FMEE) to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Airport (MRU/FIMP)
Flight number UU130

We took off from RWY14 and headed straight for Mauritius. This flight was very short, 26min in total. Drinks were served very quickly, only water and fruit juice were on offer. It was a different crew in the cabin but they were also very friendly and helpful.

Since I did a lot of sightseeing in Mauritius the previous month, this second trip was focused on relaxation, most of the time there was spent on the beach – either at Grand Baie, Pereybere, La Cuvette or Belle Mare. We also went on a catamaran trip with Oceane, that departed from Black River and visited Crystal Rock & Ile Aux Benetiers.

Famous Cap Malheureux Church in Pereybere
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Crystal Rock
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Belle Mare beach
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Grand Baie
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Flight 3
Sunday, 1 January 2017
Air Austral, Boeing 737-800, F-ONGB
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Airport (MRU/FIMP) to Roland Garros Airport (RUN/FMEE)
Flight number UU103

Leaving 8:30am local time, we already had to be at the airport at 6:30am, that meant leaving the resort where we stayed at 5:00am already, so we got up at 4:30am – not so easy when you celebrated New Year until 2:00am!

I had a bag with two photography studio lights as cabin luggage. When it went through the X-ray scanner, the agent was worried about it and called his supervisor. She came around, very friendly and professional, and took me aside. She swiped it for drugs and after finding everything in order, she sent us on our way. We had a good chuckle about it – they are only doing their job and it is not a common item to have as hand luggage.

Corsair 747 arriving on stand
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Take off
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The flight was delayed for 30min but boarding was soon finished and we took off from RWY14 again, turning towards Reunion and climbing like a rocket. A snack was served (packet of two shortbread biscuits) and water & fruit juice was served again. We landed on RWY14 at Reunion 34min later.

Upon arriving at the transfer security point entrance, we found a set of closed doors. One of the other passengers picked up the phone next to the door and let the agents know we’re there – they took a full 10min to arrive. They should have expected us – and this did not help to improve my opinion of Reunion Airport.

The bag with studio lights raised concerns again and I had to unpack it completely before putting it through the X-ray scanner. All was fine and I entered International Departures, where the wifi still didn’t work, and the queue for drinks was still too long. In my humble opinion, the departure hall needs to be upgraded.

Flight 4:
Sunday, 1 January 2017
Air Austral, Boeing 737-800, F-ONGB
Roland Garros Airport (RUN/FMEE) to OR Tambo International Airport (JNB/FAOR)
Flight number UU341

Our flight was only a few minutes late, and soon we boarded the plane again. Takeoff was from RWY14 and we were on our way to Johannesburg.
Lunch was not as great as the first leg of my journey two weeks ago but it was still decent – chicken cubes in mustard sauce, carrot salad, salmon pate and bread rolls were on offer, with a strawberry mousse type of dessert, as well as pretzels and chocolates.

We came in over the African continent by Maputo again, and landed in Johannesburg on time after a flight time of 4 hours. I need to mention again that the cabin crew was very friendly and professional.

I would definitely recommend Air Austral to anyone – the cabin crew is friendly, the food is good and their airplanes seemed well maintained. Their IFE is not as good though. Next time I go to Mauritius, I would try to fly direct – to avoid Reunion Airport and to save time, because the extra time to transit through another airport can become tiring, especially if one is physically tired already.

I hope you enjoyed the report, and please feel free to ask any questions!
Aircraft types flown on: A319, A343, B727, B732, B733, B734, B735, B738, B744, DC9, MD82, DH3, DH4
 
PieterBoth
Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:49 pm

Re: Johannesburg to Mauritius on Air Austral, via Reunion

Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:11 pm

Hi nice TR! Mauritius looking resplendent as ever! I also flew to MRU once via RUN (from CDG) and had the same impressions of the airport in St. Denis - it got very crowded when there were 2 flights to Paris at the same time and very limited catering and I remember very hard uncomfortable seats...that was seven years ago and I don't think there's been much of an update since then. I wonder why the French have not done anything given the amount of money they put into Reunnionais infrastructure. I know MRU is probably much busier than RUN in terms of traffic but the difference between the two airports is massive (MRU being much better).
Glad you liked Air Austral! And cool to see they are still handing amenity kits out.
There's a nice behind the scenes documentary (in French) made by Reunionnais TV on Roland Garros airport in Reunion:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elLQ29a14-k
 
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11725Flyer
Posts: 1388
Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 4:51 pm

Re: Johannesburg to Mauritius on Air Austral, via Reunion

Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:12 am

Wow. Incredible pictures. It makes me want to book a trip there as soon as possible.
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1863
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: Johannesburg to Mauritius on Air Austral, via Reunion

Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:57 am

I flew on Air Mauritius from Johannesburg to Mauritius and the food on Air Austral is 10 times better than on Air Mauritius.
I paid $470 from Johannesburg to Mauritius to Durban.

Weather question: We stayed in Mauritius from October 20th to 29th. The ocean was cold and we only swam 3 days out of 9 in the ocean. The weather seemed to get better around October 26th. How was the weather in December? When is the best time to go? Thanks.
 
PieterBoth
Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:49 pm

Re: Johannesburg to Mauritius on Air Austral, via Reunion

Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:17 pm

lychemsa wrote:
How was the weather in December? When is the best time to go?


I was there in December/January and the sea was nice and warm. But for me, I only go early in the morning or in the late afternoon; during the day it is too hot.
Though of course each person has their own temperature thresholds for swimming (for me Oct is fine), Nov - Mar is probably the time when you are most sure of warm water to swim.
You should also take into account which coastline you are swimming (the east is windier and therefore will feel colder in the water). The north's waters are calmer and therefore feel warmer, but the beaches are 'busier'.
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1863
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: Johannesburg to Mauritius on Air Austral, via Reunion

Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:55 pm

We were told December is too hot and humid and January to May it rains a lot in addition to the humidity. In hindsight we should have gone mid November.Thanks.
 
bluepoole
Topic Author
Posts: 53
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2005 10:01 pm

Re: Johannesburg to Mauritius on Air Austral, via Reunion

Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:14 am

From my side, when I was there in November the weather was quite nice. December was hot and extremely humid though. I've also been told that January onwards sees a lot of rainfall.

So would also agree that November is a good month to visit.

Generally the water is warm, especially in December, but we did experience cold water here and there. One morning in December we went to Trou Aux Biches' public beach and the water was warm...then we moved to Mon Choisy beach not far from there...it was a matter of minutes...and the water was cold!
Aircraft types flown on: A319, A343, B727, B732, B733, B734, B735, B738, B744, DC9, MD82, DH3, DH4
 
JAGflyer
Posts: 3577
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2004 5:31 am

Re: Johannesburg to Mauritius on Air Austral, via Reunion

Sun Jan 29, 2017 3:50 am

PieterBoth wrote:
Hi nice TR! Mauritius looking resplendent as ever! I also flew to MRU once via RUN (from CDG) and had the same impressions of the airport in St. Denis - it got very crowded when there were 2 flights to Paris at the same time and very limited catering and I remember very hard uncomfortable seats...that was seven years ago and I don't think there's been much of an update since then. I wonder why the French have not done anything given the amount of money they put into Reunnionais infrastructure. I know MRU is probably much busier than RUN in terms of traffic but the difference between the two airports is massive (MRU being much better).
Glad you liked Air Austral! And cool to see they are still handing amenity kits out.
There's a nice behind the scenes documentary (in French) made by Reunionnais TV on Roland Garros airport in Reunion:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elLQ29a14-k


Very interesting documentary. Thanks for posting it.
If you flew today, thank a Flight Dispatcher!
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1863
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: Johannesburg to Mauritius on Air Austral, via Reunion

Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:32 pm

The coldest water was indeed at Belle Mare in the east coast. Trou au Biches was more bearable and Le Monde was the best.
 
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CollegeAviator
Posts: 553
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:55 am

Re: Johannesburg to Mauritius on Air Austral, via Reunion

Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:19 am

Very nice and interesting trip report, thank you very much for sharing!

4 flights in a row on the exact same aircraft - wow! The avgeek and registration nerd in me would certainly be really sad :P

Lovely lunch on the first flight!

Pity about your experiences at RUN... I hope some of it solved, sometime... :(

LOVELY pictures from Mauritius!

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