How NOT to Fly Out of Mandalay

Myanmar doesn’t work like most countries in the world and it took us awhile to figure that out. After some bad luck with our initial hotel booking, we learned that the best way to book a hotel in Myanmar was to email the hotel directly.

So now we were home free? But no, we still had to figure out how to book a flight in a country that didn’t yet accept credit cards.

We booked a flight from Mandalay to Inle Lake online. But the email back from the airline indicated that we had to pay for and pick up our tickets in Yangon, at the other end of the country!
Flying to Inle Lake from Mandalay

From: web.rsvn@airmandalay.com
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2013 12:48:20 +0630
Subject: Re: Booking RSVN-WEB

Welcome to Air Mandalay!

Your booking is confirmed.

6T402 Y 21NOV’13 MDL-HEH – 0845 / 0920  KK2  (USD 60 for one person)

The total airfare for this booking is 2 persons * 60 USD (inclusive of insurance and fuel surcharge) = 120 USD

Upon arrival in Yangon, you can pick-up your tickets at Air Mandalay Office and pay in cash USD. We would like to inform you that credit is not acceptable at this moment.

Please pick-up the tickets at our head office at least 3 days before of your travel date – in case this is not possible for you (because of late arrival in Myanmar) please let me know what date and approximate time you will come and pick-up the tickets.

REMARK: If  you do not  pick up your tickets 1 day before of your departure, your flight reservation will already be canceled. Our head office opens from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (weekdays) and from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (weekends).

Thank you for your booking with Air Mandalay – I do hope you will enjoy your visit to my country!

___________________________

What a disaster! I almost succumbed to hysterics.

But Al carted me back to the money-changing place, which also turned out to be a travel agency.

The agent booked us a flight on a different airline and handed us our paper tickets. I should note here that we had to pay cash for the tickets in the form of pristine US dollar bills. We haven’t yet seen the only ATM in Mandalay, and having to pay cash for everything has us a bit worried about whether we have budgeted enough for this portion of our trip.
Yangon Airlines Paper Ticket The next day, when we arrived at the airport, a flurry of eight attendants booked us in. We each received boarding cards and stickers to attach to our shirts.
Yangon Airways Boarding Pass We were flying with Yangon Airways, whose logo is a flying white elephant.
Yangon Airways stickers for our shirts

“Do we really want to get on a plane whose company logo is a flying white elephant?”

“Well”, Al commented, “at least it’s not a flying pink elephant…”

In lieu of a functioning weigh scale, one of the attendants picked up our suitcases and hefted it a couple of time to determine the weight. And we were off…
Boarding Yangon Airways Plane to Inle Lake…arriving safe in Heho Airport with another flurry of attendants.

A Flurry of Attendants at He Ho AirportAnd then into our waiting cab, which had been organized by the Teakhouse Guesthouse where we were staying.Taxi to Inle LakeMore about our 2013 trip to Myanmar.

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7 responses to “How NOT to Fly Out of Mandalay

    • I don’t think Air Mandalay is a big no-no, so much as an airline that is impossible to book online. In late 2013 it was impossible to book any Burmese airline online. At that time the only way to book a flight in Myanmar was to purchase paper tickets from a travel agency. Things are changing quickly though, and in a year or two I am sure online booking will become the standard.

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