Asian Wings Airways # YJ 881: Bagan-NYU to Heho-HEH, Myanmar
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After a great time spent exploring the thousands (literally!) of temples of Bagan, it was time for our first domestic flight within Myanmar.
Although the Nyaung U-NYU airport that serves Bagan is only about a 15-20 minute drive (and cost us 6,500 MMK in a taxi, ~$6.40 US), our hotel suggested we leave bright and early at 7am to get there with plenty of time to spare for our 8:20am departure — this proved to be good advice as our flight actually departed about 15 mins early.
We made it to the airport promptly at 7:15am and found our airline’s counter, Asian Wings Airlines, among about 7-8 of its competitors. We handed over our passports and the check-in agent found our name on a list (passengers #27 and 28) and fished a handwritten ticket out of a folder. We checked a bag each; thankfully, the Myanmar airline industry hasn’t been bitten by the western airline bug and let us check them for free.
We exchanged cash at the airport, finding a stand that didn’t seem to care about the condition of our $20 US bills and bought a few stamps (600 MMK, ~$0.59 each to send a postcard to the US, for those that might be interested) before heading through security and back to the departure lounge.
After hanging out and completely killing my cell phone battery in the futile attempt to connect to the free Wifi that was being advertised, our flight was called for boarding and we headed out to the aircraft. …But not without a group of middle aged European travelers circling up around the boarding door in anticipation of boarding and then literally rushing to the plane–I suppose the lack of assigned seats caused them enough anxiety to act like pushy a-holes?
Seating was 2 by 2 with some nice very dark green leather that hasn’t been fashionable in decades.
Of the appx 70 seats, no more than 40-50% were full on our flight:
Asian Wings Airways
Flight # YJ 881
ATR 72-500 (XY-AJQ, first flight Feb 2000)
Nyaung U-NYU to Heho-HEH
Dept: 8:20am, arrv: 9:00am
Fare: ~$112 US each
Wasting absolutely no time, all passengers boarded quickly, the boarding door was closed and we were off by 8:05am for a departure about 15 mins early:
Once airborne, the captain got on the PA and announced that we’d be cruising at 12,000 feet for our very short 30 minute flight–guess there’s no sense in climbing any higher than that with only 124 miles (200 km) of ground to cover.
Once we had leveled off a bit, the 2 flight attendants walked down the aisles with candies and a choice of Sprite or water–not terrible at all for such a quick flight.
The “Pizza Candy” snacks were a bit disconcerting:
It turns out, the pizza part is just the shape of the candy and it was actually “cola flavored”–way to cling onto a few English words to sell your candy.
During our visit (which was during the peak of the dry season), we found that the sky was pretty hazy — making the views from above less than spectacular. This helps to explain why the sunsets seemed so quick in Myanmar: I guess the sunlight has a harder time penetrating the dusty haze as it falls in the sky.
And, within in no time we had begun our descent into Heho-HEH.
We deplaned and headed into the terminal.
Upon entering the terminal, immigration was there to check our passports:
Our bags arrived the old-fashioned way and we were off to find our driver to Inle Resort & Spa:
Now, just a 60 minute drive to our resort to end our travels for the day:
BOTTOM LINE: Our first domestic flight in Myanmar was perfectly uneventful, no surprises or “tourist pricing” on the checked luggage (although I would consider $112 for the ticket to be a bit high for a 30 minute flight) and an early departure and early arrival–I’ll take that any day!