Air Travel, Mandalay
I took a couple of different airlines flying to and from Mandalay during the past two trips and they were all decent. The service was good but one airplane seemed a bit on the older side. What I didn't like was having to wait until getting to the country to book the flight and I wasn't able to plan my entire trip ahead of time. I learned that you can book online for flights to Mandalay, and other cities also, on visitmm.com website. I see Asian Wings airline now, which is a fairly new airline. I haven't taken it but I know that they have airbus going to Mandalay from Yangon, so I will try to book it next time. I had a decent agent there last time but it was troublesome to have crisp new bills to pay for it and wait to pickup paper tickets.
. While travelling through Burma I weighed up the best means of transport to the various places that I wanted to visit. Because of the distances and decidedly slow trains and busses, I chose to fly between destinations. This enabled me to have longer visiting times also. I flew with Bagan Airlines from Bagan to Mandalay. I must admit I was a little apprehensive but this airline I found to be all that I didn't think it would be..The planes appeared to be rather new immaculately presented with friendly cabin crews and the right price.They were on time and gave great service.
There are several local arlines fliying to Mandalay (my tour operator recommended me Air Bagan, because it has new planes). Mandalay airport also receive international flights (Thai, Sill Air, China Southern, Vietnam Airways, Malaysian and Bangkok Airways). There is a 14 hour train service from Yangon.
This very ambitious structure was built in the belief that tourism and international traveller arrival was going to increase. As you can only enter Myanmar at Yangon at this stage, the airport is exclusively for domestic travel right now. It is also used for the local Air Force! As it is called the International Airport, clearly there is some hope that this will change.
There were at least 6 luggage belts, 5 of which were in pristine condition, most of the shops were empty - well there was one shop operating - sometimes. It was closed when we were there! - and we were there twice. There was, however, a working post office. Unknown and rather pleasant, was the Kiplings Cafe upstairs, where we spent a few hours playing Scrabble, sipping tea and eating cheese and Vegemite sandwiches - never know when that Vegemite will come in handy!
There was actually very little seating etc. in the airport. But, the minute you went to the toilet, they were attended - with someone giving you hand towel paper and cleaning after you!
We sat at Myanmar airports for very long periods of time - in the departures areas. We were often gobsmacked to see the amount of luggage abuse that went on quite openly, when containers or buggies were being packed for transport to the aeroplanes. It almost seemed like a sport at times. Pick up a bag and hurl it as hard as possible to the back of the cart! No wonder bags get damaged. No respect at all.
We leave our good luggage in Bangkok, where we usually start and finish our holidays, and take backpacks away from Thailand. This gives us a higher degree of flexibility - eg. when we TRY to cross the border from Myanmar by foot!
I laughed a few times, to see people dusting bags off very carefully when they picked them up. If only they *knew*.
I was greatly impressed by the new international airport in Mandalay. Spacious though dim lit, nice clean areas it sure reaches european standards for a place where you don't get many international flights daily.
Only problem is that it lies 45kms away from the city centre, a well 1 hour drive, which increases tranfer costs
Wish you have seen an old airport in Mandalay in 1995 ! It was a barn...
Now there is new international airport far from Mandalay , about 1 hour by car.
Although airport called international , you can flight there only from Burma . I`ve heard that only russian company Aeroflot has flight there , but these are government or military flights...