After we were met by our resort representative, we were walked to the domestic terminal via a covered walkway that connected the international and domestic terminals together. Along the way, the azure blue sea and the smell of sun and sand attacked all of my senses and I was so overjoyed to be in this paradise.
The domestic terminal is very small with maybe only 4-6 check-in counters. Please note that this is not where the seaplanes depart (Trans Maldivian Airlines). Those seaplanes depart from the other side of the airport and you need a bus to go there. The domestic terminal caters to small turboprops that connect Male with islands further away (I heard more than 30 mins flying/ 30 minutes speed boat trip) such as my end destination of Gan airport at Addu Atoll. The terminal consists of two floors, ground floor is for check-in, security check, and departure gates while upper floor is where the offices and a lounge are located. I am not quite sure who can access the lounge and who cannot. It seems like a private lounge owned by the airport that can be accessed by guests from certain hotels/resorts only
My flight number was actually Q2 102 MLE-FVM-GAN. However, during check-in, our resort rep said that there was no passenger going to FVM and there was no passenger to pick up there either so we were 'lucky' to have non-stop direct flight to GAN as the stop over would stretch the journey for more or less another 30-45 minutes. Hence, the flight number was changed to Q2 2102.
Gan International airport is located in Gan island. Gan island is part of Addu Atoll where Addu City is located. Addu City is one of the only two area in The Maldives that bear the tag 'city' (the other is Male). Addu Atoll is the furthest away group of islands within the territory of The Republic of Maldives. Gan Airport is about 550km south of Male. One thing to note is that when visiting The Maldives, arriving at Male is not the end of your journey. You still have to connect with either a speed boat, a seaplane, or a propeller plane.
Anyway, enough with the geography lesson. We were walked to the entrance of the lounge where our rep spoke with the lounge dragon and we were ushered in with a smile. Our rep said that just stay there, relax, eat, drink, sleep, don't worry about anything. When the flight is ready for boarding he will pick us up. Okay….. I can live with that :)
The lounge consist of one big hall with chairs, sofas, and tables in different arrangements. Supporting facilities are located around the edges of the big hall. Since we were both still quite tired from the red eye flight, we just chose a corner and we camped there. I did not bother to check the Food & Beverage offerings. From what I can tell, there were quite some choices as I saw many guests going back and forth to the buffet section.
So here I am! In the middle of Indian Ocean :) :) :)
After a quick nap, I peeped outside and the weather was gorgeous. Look at how clear the water is! I believe that is the pier where one can take the speedboats and ferries to Male City
Proper boarding pass
Wuhuu!! I am in The Maldives!
True to his words, our resort rep came by and informed us that it is now time to board the flight. We were a bit puzzled when he said the flight was ready to board because this lounge is located landside. That meant we still had to walk a bit and do security check. He reassured us that it would be fine and take a leisurely stroll. "No need to rush sir, they will wait for you!"…. Aaaaah… the island life!
So we left the lounge and walked downstairs. There was a small queue at the security check. It seems that the staff prioritized the locals who were taking commuter flights as many locals were encouraged to jump the line and go straight to the front. Security was quick and painless.
Boarding area turned out to be a small rectangular hall with a couple gates and chairs. There is no dedicated area for each gate, understandable considering this is a tiny airport. (Sorry for the picture, I can't seem to rotate it)
The fun began as soon as I walked on the tarmac. So many propeller airplanes being squeezed among big jets and nobody seems to care about taking picture.
This ATR72-500 belongs to Flyme (IATA Code: VP). Based at MLE, it flies scheduled rotations to VAM (Maamigili), DRV (Dharavandhoo), KDM (Kaadedhdhoo) and stand-by rotations to 6 other airports in the archipelago. I heard from my friend that since airlines in The Maldives are small in size and their services are vital lifeline , if one airlines has trouble (airplane goes tech etc), they can easily call another airline to help pick up stranded passengers.
For those in the know, could you explain to me why ATR's elevators are in the front part? To avoid impact with the rudder if it is placed in the back of the tail? In fact most T-tail airplanes are like that
Those Bombardiers belong to Maldivian
While I was busy taking pictures, this babybus from Air India rotated just in front of me. Gorgeous!
This Bombardier DHC8-300 will be my non-stop chariot to GAN. The ground staff in front of the stairs just stood there waiting for me and my partner. He did not seem to be in a hurry so we were taking our time too.
As you can see, parking seemed chaotic at first glance but I am sure there must be some logic behind it on how to maximize the tiny apron
SV's 777 dwarfed ATR72-500 big time!
Obligatory fuselage shot!
Upon boarding, there was one flight attendant standing at the door welcoming everyone. She was all smiley and friendly. It was not hard to find our seats as this plane is all economy class. Our seats are on the left hand side of the airplane and in front of the wing and engine. Leg room is not bad at all. Quite roomy! As always, I shot gun window seat ^__^
i really like the local Maldivian alphabets. It looks like a mixed of Arabic and Sanscrete
Those were the throne seats because those were the only 4 seats that are facing each other like in an intercity train. Later on, those seats were occupied by 4 (party) ladies from the UAE. They were definitely in joyous mood based on constant selfie pictures they took, the giggles, and their belongings throughout the flight. They were very friendly to everyone though so they spread positive atmosphere in the cabin. A sight I didn't normally see :D
Unfortunately my window was badly scratched and dirty. No amount of wet tissue can erase the oil and finger print marks. Bummer!
Today's flight was 100% full. You can see one of the party ladies in the picture below (white shirt). Btw, the faux leather seats are quite comfortable.
Now, this is one of the most bizzare things during this trip. Look at what I found in the seat pocket! My reading skill is not the best so I can't really decipher what this 'guide' had to say to Chinese holiday makers.
Right on-time at 10.50AM Male time, the front door was closed. The same flight attendant that welcomed us distributed wet tissue. She then conducted manual safety demonstration. After safety demonstration, a prayer in Arabic was played. Considering there is no taxiway at MLE, safety demonstration was done while we were still parked. We only taxied to active runway after demonstration was finished and cabin was secured.
At 10.55AM we entered active runway. I believe it was rwy 36. The captain stopped the aircraft, held the brakes, increased the throttle, released the brakes, and baaaaaaaaam we were catapulted like a rocket into the sky! The shortest and most powerful take-off I have ever experienced to date! It's like 757 on steroids!!!
I have to say that the cabin was quite noisy and the vibration was quite big. Somehow I managed to drift in and out of sleep. So I missed the service. From what I gathered from my partner, there was another round of wet tissue service followed by mango, apple juice, or water runs. Considering the flight is a bit more than an hour, perhaps biscuits/cookies/chips could be added to the offering. The ticket for this flight is not cheap! It costs us an extra 400-500 USD per person for MLE-GAN-MLE
This was the view during the whole flight! Again, sorry for the picture, I can't seem to rotate it in the direction I wanted
During descent, the smiley FA went to our seats and presented us with two certificates, each bears our name. What a nice touch!
It was uneventful flight. Just blue sky with some clouds along the way. So serene!
Anyway, we landed 5 minutes early on runway 28 at GAN airport. There is no taxiway at GAN so we had to backtrack at the end of the runway to enter a tiny apron. it looks like GAN airport had been recently upgraded or renovated as the runway, tarmac, and terminal building were spic and span clean! This airport bears international name because it hosts seasonal service to and from Colombo (UL)
Deplaning was quick and fast. We were the only commercial flight at that time of the day.
What a gorgeous BBJ! She looks so mean! Love it!!! I wonder who owns it?!
Bye-bye! Thank you for the nice ride!
It was a very short walk to the arrival hall
Since my flight was a domestic flight, there was no immigration officer.
After we got our bags, we left the terminal building and we were greeted by our friend and his staff. The resort provided a minibus for a short hop to a jetty where a speedboat awaited us for the final leg to reach the resort.
What a day! Distance wise I have traveled farther but somehow this journey to the middle of Indian Ocean felt a lot longer and arduous. But the breathtaking view and spectacular service from the resort made it worth the effort.
I bid you adiue for now! I hope you enjoy my report of this fairly unknown airlines. Please stay tuned for the next installments :)
Bonus : Click here displayhide
If you are interested about The Maldives, in particular the resort where I stayed, I stayed at The Shangri-la Villingili Resort & Spa. It is located in the southern most group of islands that make up The Maldives. The island where it is located is quite big (compared to other hotels and resorts) hence it has a golf course, it has its own water desalination facility, jungle tracking , soccer field, etc that others just don't have due to size. It even has its own time zone. yep! it's own micro time zone. Yet it's also the furthest away from Male. Nevertheless, it was a very-very enjoyable stay because the villas were beautiful, the staff couldn't be friendlier, and the scenery was just breathtaking.
However, I had a bit of bad luck. While i was snorkeling, my left leg hit a very sharp coral. I thought it was just a few scratches that I shouldn't worry about. Just clean it with water, dab some alcohol to clean the wound, and some betadine. Boy was I wrong…
It turns out that the correct procedure is to immediately clean the wound and take antibiotic shot as a precaution (which I didn't do, silly me I know). After a couple of days, I thought my wounds were healing but it became itchy and it started to turn blood red. Yep, I got bacterial infection because some polyps were left behind under my skin and it was growing. I won't show you the pictures of how it looked like after 3 days but you get the idea.. Now i have permanent scars on my left leg to remind me of this adventure :D
Island Aviation Services Moonimaa Lounge
Malé - MLE
Gan - GAN
Maldivian provides a solid service for moving locals and tourists from one island to another. The aircraft that I was flown in was clean, the seats were comfortable, though the window was so dirty and scratched I have to give a score of 7. The sole flight attendant was friendly and professional. But not much she can do for this inter-island flight with limited catering choice so I think she deserved an 8. As for entertainment, no entertainment whatsoever. There was a very thin magazine (like 5-6 pages maybe) with most articles written in local language so can't do anything about it. The real entertainment was the beautiful scenery outside. I think 3.5 is justifiable. Again, this is a short inter-island flight so I do see why the airline only offers drinks. However, considering that the ticket price is not cheap at all, perhaps they can add something more. Hence, I only give a 5
I am not sure who operates the lounge but based on my brief experience there (i didn't really explore, i did on my return flight so i will comment more there) it was comfortable and the staff were nice
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