I knew that the flight was going to be an interesting one well before we got close to the trip. Booking domestic flights in Myanmar is a challenge, mostly because their airlines are not linked to any global booking systems. And credit card transactions are not yet possible. Plus, most airlines there don’t have a functional online presence, much less a booking engine on their websites (though it is getting better). We were fortunate that Air Mandalay was at least able to take a reservation request via email. Of course, they wanted us to pay in person 3 days prior to our flight; we weren’t going to be in the country until ~36 hours prior to the flight. Oy.
When we finally made it to Yangon we still had to pay for the flights. Crisp $100 bills were the only acceptable payment method and it involved a trip to their ticket office to complete the transaction. I asked about possibly changing the flights, desperately hoping there was an option other than the 6:30am flight we were booked on. That’s when the agent turned her computer screen so that I could see the options. Apparently they manage all their bookings in an Excel spreadsheet. Wow.
It got even better when we eventually made it to the airport the following morning. At check-in we received our boarding passes for the flight. They were hand-written, with stickers for the seat numbers. It was awesome.
The gate area was packed wall-to-wall. Not an empty seat to be found and flights boarding out of the few doors at the far end of the terminal, but no announcements being made. Instead there were guys walking around carrying signs like these for each flight:
When you saw the sign for your flight you had to make your way through the scrum to the door, had over the boarding pass and walk out to the plane. One of the only advantages of the ridiculously early departure time was the sunrise happening behind the plane as we boarded.
Miss the party seats that used to be found on Southwest Airlines? You can sub in an Air Mandalay ATR for a similar experience if you want.
The flight itself was relatively uneventful. They served a small snack during the flight that was pretty bad.
And they handed out newspapers. This was really one of the stories:
Yeah, not your everyday travel experience. Far from it, really.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.