Video Report Golden Myanmar Airlines - Y5 505 - Yangon to Mandalay - ATR 72-600Air KBZ 7704 - Nyaung U (Bagan) to Heho (Inle Lake) - ATR 72-600Myanmar National Airlines UB455 - Heho to Yangon - ATR 72-600 (XY-AMM)
Hello A'netters. This trip report consists of the three domestic flights we encountered in Burma (Myanmar) -> Yangon to Mandalay; Bagan to Heho and then Heho to Yangon. All on ATR 72-600s and on three different domestic carriers. There will be a separate report on how we reached Yangon and back to London On BA and Cathay Dragon. 1. Yangon to Mandalay on Golden Myanmar Airlines
Whilst travelling around Burma, we needed to reach Mandalay from Yangon. There are a lot of overnight coach and train options, but given the time constraint, flying seems to be the best option for us. Flying, domestic Burma, is somehow monopolized amongst a few domestic carriers who run the daily routes between Yangon, Mandalay, He Hoe and Nyaung-U (Bagan), and have similar flight timings.
From the usual suspects, I chose the most affordable one and it also had a decent timing option. Even the cheapest ticket set me back around $100 per head! Quite significant given the distance and the general cost of living in Burma. That being said, there are not too many options that enable you to reach from Yangon to Mandalay within an hour so had to cough it up.
The booking process was simple and the online booking process was a breeze. All passengers details (passport and phone number) entered, paid using an international credit card and I was all done in 15 minutes. All domestic flights in Burma include a generous 20 Kilo baggage allowance along with a light snack on board. Most of the airlines fly fairly new ATR's on these routes with a few exceptions who fly the larger B737-800 on certain times of the day. Golden Myanmar Airlines - Y5505
Route: RGN - MDL
Flight Reg:XY-AJM; Delivered to GMA on May 2014
Aircraft Type: ATR 72-600
Flight time: 11:00 - 12:25 (11:31 - 12:52)
Actual flight time: 1Hr 21 Min
Distance: 330 Miles
Load: 100% load
4th Feb 2019
Booking details: Booked on www.gmairlines.com website for a total of $683 for 6 adults and 1 child tickets (Inclusive of 20 Kg check in allowance and snacks)
My Log book: 1st Flight on Golden Myanmar Airlines/ 1st flight on ATR 72-600 / 190th Total overall flight
Day before the flight, OCI was not possible. So will be checking in at the airport.
Once at the domestic terminal, I had realised that I had made a mistake in entering the details of our group. I had entered my mother in laws name twice and missed out on adding my sister in laws details. Yikes! But it was quickly resolved by paying Name change and no show fees of $30.
Arriving at Yangon Domestic terminal
Yangon Domestic terminal
Packed and ready to go
Check in desks for Golden Myanmar Airlines (GMA)
The domestic terminal is quite a nice place to be. Spacious and not many people around.
Full flight today to putao via myintkyina and Mandalay. It was quite a unique experience to fly with an airline with only 2 aircrafts in their fleet. Flying them once, allowed me to travel on 50% of their fleet!
Heading towards security
FIDS at RGN Domestic
Surprisingly a very nice place to be; airside at RGN Domestic terminal
There is our ride to Mandalay, actually it has just arrived from its morning Mandalay run
Time to board
Being bussed to the aircraft
There she is, up close and personal
Seating on this ATR
View from our seat -> the complete fleet of GMA
Disembarked at 11 17 and roared towards the yangon skies at 11 30. Flight time of 1 hr and 20 min announced.
Snacks box served on the flight. The chicken bun was surprisingly tasty and my nephew even commented it was the best meal he had ever had!
Bye Bye Yangon (For now)
Cabin view after take off
Snacks on this sector
It was a turbulent free Flight into mandalay. Landed at 12 50 and out of the airport by 13 10.
At Mandalay Airport
Baggage collection at Mandalay
Exiting the airport
Very ornate terminal building Verdict
Apart from a slight delay in the flight, this flight was perfectly acceptable. I really enjoyed the uniquness of flying on a niche airline and the on-board service was very good. A perfectly acceptable way to get from Yangon to Mandalay. 2. Bagan to Heho on Air KBZ
During the progress of our trip, we realised the road travel is not the best idea when you are travelling with your family, especially if they are older people and children involved. It was not too bad, but our trip from Mandalay to Bagan (4 hours) made us realise that we would be wasting a lot of time on road if we stuck to the original plan of also driving from Bagan to Inle Lake. Instead decided that we would fly from Bagan to Heho.
Looking at tickets, the cheapest available was around £65 per head. There were quite a few options and all of them between 8AM and 11 AM. We zeroed in on the Air KBZ option at 9:15. Another opportunity to fly with a new airline, this saving us over 7 hours of drive, compared to a 35 minute flight.
Booked via edreams as they were able to price me a non-refundable ticket which costed me around $170 less than the quoted price on air KBZ website. Speaking of which, it's a completely dated website. It just about works and you can manage to book yourself a ticket, I think. The proof is evident in their flight routing page which still shows their flight schedule since 2013!
But from an airline perspective it must be a 'huge' airline in Myanmar with a fleet size of 7 aircrafts! Air KBZ - K7704
Route: NYU - HEH
Flight Reg:XY-AJW; Delivered to Air KBZ on Jan 2015
Aircraft Type: ATR 72-600
Flight time: 09:15 - 09:55 (09:28 - 10:02)
Actual flight time: 34 Min
Distance: 124 Miles
Load: 56 out of 78 capacity.
8th Feb 2019
Booking details: Booked on www.edreams.net website for a total of $604 for 6 adults and 1 child tickets (Inclusive of 20 Kg check in allowance and snacks)
My Log book: 1st Flight on Air KBZ/ 2nd flight on ATR 72-600 / 191st Total overall flight
Previous day, online check-in wasn't possible.
Day of the flight, experience at the airport was interesting to say the least. Everything was manual here nothing automated. Bags were weighed in manually, baggage tags attached and then manually dragged to the rear of the airport where it was dropped at the side of the aircraft.
The morning burst is a busy time here. Aircrafts usually turn around in 15 minutes after touch down. Our flight for today was a Mandalay to heho flight via bagan.
Arriving at Nyaung U (Bagan)
Domestic airport interiors
Check in desks
Very basic check in desks for Air KBZ
All our bags tagged and ready to be manually loaded onto the aircraft
All other airlines here have a similar setup
Heading to the departure area
I can see our bags loaded here
They allowed me to get my swiss army knife as hand luggage!
Hand written boarding pass, of course.
There are around 9 flight between 8 and 11 am just to Heho. A similar number to Mandalay and Yangon.
There is a flight taking off or landing every 5 to 10 minutes at this time. For this size of an airport quite busy.
Our aircraft from Mandalay arrived early and we were going to be on a 4 year old ATR 72-600.
There was a slight delay in boarding and not sure why though. However, 20 minutes later it was …
…Time to board
An interesting plane spotting opportunity -> VT-VKR; A Dassault Falcon-2000DX registered to the Indian Company GVK Aviation. What was it doing here?
Our ride to Heho
View from our row
More than acceptable leg space
We were airborne by 9:30, 15 minutes behind schedule.
Flight time of 35 minute announced with a cruising altitude of 10000 feet.
Even on this short 35 minute flight they served us a pastry and drinks, to which my wife quipped, even BA do not serve us any complementary snacks on a 2 hour flight. Lol !
Tried my luck with a scratch card. Unlike Ryanair this was free! The first prize being a Ford SUV!
Snack service on this short 30 minute flight
En-route to Lake Inle
Tight galley area
Approaching Heho Airport
Rest of the short hop was perfect -> absolutely smooth and great scenery out of the window. And seats on this ATR was recline able ever so slightly.
Once touched down, Heho airport is a fun place to be. I shall let the pictures and videos do the talking. Long story short, there are no baggage carousel here, instead they just manually place the baggage at the terminal and its free for all!
..And we are here
love the way everything is just basic here, but works well
Waiting for our bags. Who needs multi-level baggage conveyer belts. Pure muscle power here
There, I can see our bags being pulled in the cart
Heho Airport Arrivals
Exiting the airport Verdict
A slightly more polsihed serivce onboard Air KBZ as compared to our previous expernce with GMA. That being said, both of them were perfectly acceptable. Air KBZ was on time and their seats were ever so slitgly better. But for 30-60 minute it is hardly notciable. As long as the price and time is suitable, you should be fine with either of the two airline, so far. 3. Heho to Yangon on Myanmar National Airlines
Our final leg in Myanmar was from HeHoe (Inle Lake) to Yangon. We needed to reach back to Yangon on the 11th morning and we had quite a few options. Golden Myanmar Airlines, Air KBZ, Mann Yadanarpon Airlines and Myanmar National Airlines. All of them were in the range of $90-$110. All of them run a circular route in the mornings (Between Yangon, Mandalay, He Hoe and Nyaung-U (Bagan)) and they all fly relatively new ATR's
In the end I chose Myanmar National Airline as this was the cheapest of the 4 and also had great timings. It also had the easiest website to use.
Tickets were easy enough to book although I could only book a maximum of 6 tickets at a time, which meant that I had to book twice (6 in one PNR and an extra one for myself separately). Nevertheless, 15 minutes later I was all booked and done. Simple!Myanmar National Airlines - UB455
Flight Reg:XY-AMM; Delivered to MNA on Dec 2018 (The newest aircraft in their fleet)
Aircraft Type: ATR 72-600
Flight time: 10:00 - 11:05 (10:20 - 11:20)
Actual flight time: 1 Hr
Distance: 268 Miles
Load: 100 % load
11th Feb 2019
Booking details: Booked on www.flymna.com website for a total of $614.50 for 6 adults and 1 child tickets (Inclusive of 20 Kg check in allowance and snacks)
My Log book: 1st Flight on MNA / 3rd flight on ATR 72-600 / 192nd Total overall flight
We reached Heho airport with lots of time to spare. Once again all manual baggage handling facilities over here. Although the baggage tags and boarding passes were all printed this time. It depends on the airline and Myanmar national airline seems to be one of the biggest carriers in Myanmar and hence we get upgraded service of printed boarding passes.
Heho Airport Departures Terminal
9 check in bags please
Yup, all here
It's a busy time at Heho airport. There were back to back ATR's parked here whilst we were there, including the entire fleet of Golden Myanmar airlines.
Heho Airport departure area
Doesn't look like an airport, does it?
The entire fleet of GMA here, at Heho
Our aircraft from Mandalay landed by 9 45 and we were boarded and disembarked by 10 15 and airborne by 10 20. Flight time of 1 hr and 10 minutes announced.
This aircraft interior looked the best of the 3 carriers we flew on this trip. It was spotlessly clean and the faux leather seating was very comfortable. The aircraft was kept at quite a cool temperature.
Time to board
ATR 72-600's galore
Love the Livery
Lovely leather seats on this aircraft
Very comfortable seating on this aircraft
Reading material on board
This was yet another full flight to Yangon.
I really liked the uniform of the crew on this flight. Very classy and elegant.
Once on board I realised that this (XY-AMM) was Myanmar national airlines newest aircraft delivered to them on 20 December 2018. This ATR felt a lot quieter whilst take off and cruising. Are there any modifications done to the newer ATR ? This felt like an entirely new aircraft type and the quietness was drastic and quite easily noticeable.
After take-off from Heho
Flying on MNA's latest aircraft
A very well presented snack box for this short hop
This airline was quite noticeable that they are the premium airline in Myanmar. From the printed boarding passes to the faux leather interiors, it just felt a lot more upmarket than the other 2 airline we tried. They even had 3 fa on board as opposed to 2 on the other airlines of the same aircraft type, although the Seats were not recline able on this aircraft.
Snack box and drinks round commenced and was quickly completed. The retrieval of cups and boxes was also done quickly giving us enough time to relax before the final descend. And we Landed at 11 20.
En-route to Yangon
Back at Yangon
Sighted the rare ATR 72-500; the only one in MNA's fleet
Bussed to the terminal
Ah! Finally getting to see some baggage carousel
Exiting the airport
Shuttle bus to International terminal Verdict
Probably the best of the 3 domestic carriers we tried during our trip across Myanmar. Flying on their latest aircraft might've helped along with having 3 FA's as compared to 2 on the other airlines. The seats were much better and the entire experience felt a bit more upmarket than the other two.
But TBH, for such a short hop, it does not make too much of a difference. As long as the price and time suits you, you would be fine with any of these 3 airlines in Myanmar. Perfectly safe and acceptable way to get around when in Myanmar
That concludes this edition of the report. Another report on how we get to Yangon and back to London soon. Hope you liked this one. Comments and feedback welcome.
Until next time, happy and safe flying.
Adios! Sights during our trip
Chauk Htat Kyi Pagoda sleeping Buddha
Ngar Htat Gyi Pagoda
Sunset at Yangon
Mandalay Palace by night
Boats on the Irrawaddy river
U-Bein Bridge sunset
Sunset at Bagan
Sunrise at Bagan