“Should we stop and get something to eat before the flight?” I asked my travel companion Bert. It had been a long journey from the Novotel Myat Min in Lake Inle to Heho Airport in Myanmar for our flight to Yangon.
We did enjoy a delicious a-la-carte breakfast rather early at the hotel, eggs, bacon, fruit, croissants – we indulged in it all before we headed off on the first part of the journey to Myanmar’s capital Yangon by longboat and then taxi to the airport.
Always arriving early, we headed down to the Novotel’s private pier 10 minutes before our pick up at 6:50 am. Our Longboat captain (must have been no more than 17) was there having a snooze. He quickly took our bags and loaded them up for the Journey to the town of Nyaungshwe. We boarded with better balance than the previous attempts on this narrow craft.
Around 40 minutes later we arrived, but having to jostle for a position at one of the piers, saw us moored next to another boat being loaded with tomatoes bound for nearby villages. Thankfully our clever captain carried our bags across the other boat and up the stairs to the street, his well trained balancing act hardly making a ripple in the water. Next we were into our waiting taxi for the 1 hour drive, on winding roads, to Heho Airport.
It was just as we drove through the township of Heho and were seeing the signs for the airport that I’d mentioned getting something to eat before the flight. Although the small stall of local snacks outside the airport looked intriguing, we decided to abstain from such purchases and headed inside.
As we walked into the small terminal, an Air Bagan employee came rushing over to us and took our suitcases and wheeled them back to weigh them on the ‘old skool’ scales. The cheery fellow then took our tickets and had us checked in and presented us with our boarding passes and tagged our bags to Yangon all within mere minutes – such service!
We’d taken a couple of flights in Myanmar by now, so the ink-stamped, nameless boarding passes with no seating assignments were of no surprise and we had them checked by immigration before we went airside.
After security, we waited at the boarding area where one could wander outside, airside and be an avgeek, taking pictures of the departing aircraft.
There was a slight delay with our incoming aircraft which had flow from Mandalay. The passengers from that flight disembarked, those who were continuing onto Yangon reboarded first and then we were invited (by megaphone) to board the flight and find our seats.
As like all flights in Myanmar we’ve taken so far, embarkation was first via a short walk across the tarmac and then through the rear stairs of the ATR72-500. Air Bagan’s fleet is made up of the aircraft variant, in fact it seems all domestic airlines in Myanmar operate either the ATR42 or the ATR72-500 or -600 series.
From the rear entry, we walked to the front of the cabin to find a couple of spare seats together, most people filled from the back and being the ones who had boarded here in Heho as opposed to those that had been transiting from Mandalay, we were quite far up the front. As soon as we were seated it was a quick taxi and departure for the 2 hour fight to the nations capital.
It was a good thing we didn’t buy anything from the shop, we didn’t need too. Almost all flights, no matter the length come with some sort refreshment. On this sector, one of the longer ones, we were offered a soft drink, then a tray of snacks, namely a cheesy pastry and a square of layered chocolate cake plus tea or coffee. OK, so I didn’t actually get 2 pastries, but Bert didn’t feel like his at the time. Surprisingly they were flakey and crisp and the cheese – um cheesy…. The cake was the best part though seriously moist and yum. I washed mine down with a cup of tea and bert a coffee.
We landed ahead of time and made our way to a waiting shuttle bus which drove us to the terminal. After some issues of where to find our baggage, we were in a taxi and on our way into the bustling metropolis of Yangon. I really enjoyed the flight and the standards of customer service the airline has and oh we didn’t get hungry, seems you never will when travelling on a flight in Myanmar!