Review of Malawian Airlines flight Dar es Salaam Lilongwe in Economy

Airline Malawian Airlines
Flight ET43
Class Economy
Seat 16A
Aircraft Boeing 737-700
Flight time 03:00
Take-off 16 Nov 23, 07:40
Arrival at 16 Nov 23, 09:40
3W 5 reviews
bldavid
By GOLD 7343
Published on 25th November 2023

I went to several places in East Africa and the Indian Ocean and I had the following flights:

Paris to Dar es-Salaam (Tanzania), Air France, business class
Dar es Salaam to Lilongwe (Malawi), Malawi Airlines, economy class
Lilongwe to Dar es-Salaam, Malawi Airlines, economy class (no flight report)
Dar es-Salaam to Moroni (Comoros), Air Tanzania, economy class
Moroni to Dzaoudzi (Mayotte), Ewa Air, economy class
Dzaoudzi to Saint-Denis (Réunion), Air Austral, premium economy class
Saint-Denis to Paris, Air France, premium economy class
 
I booked an Ethiopian Airlines flight with an ET flight number. The registration number of the plane was ET-AVP which is an Ethiopian registration. The plane had a Malawi Airlines livery. This airline, also know as Malawian Airlines, is owned 49% by Ethiopian Airlines.

This flight from Dar es-Salaam to Lilongwe was through Blantyre, the other big city in Malawi.

Departure was from terminal 3 at Dar es-Salaam Airport. 


photo 01

There was a first security check at the entrance of the terminal building.

Dar Airport is not very busy for a city with a population of about 6 million. The flight to Malawi was the only departure from Terminal 3 at this time of the day.


photo 02

Check-in was a bit slow but I was checked in in ten minutes with four desks open and not too many passengers.


photo 03

There was no waiting time at passport control and at the second security control.

I went up to the gate area.


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The boarding area is large and was almost completely deserted at this time.


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I was definitely not in the mood for KFC or Pizza Hut at 06.30 in the morning. 


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The duty free shop was quite empty.


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I noticed that many passengers had a South African passport. Their final destination was not Malawi but they were connecting at Blantyre to Johannesburg. Malawi Airlines offer the cheapest fares from Dar to Johannesburg.

It was cloudy at Dar Airport.


photo 08

Our plane was already at the gate.


photo 09

The boarding gate.


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Boarding started on time.

The flight was supposed to be on a Dash-8 small turboprop aircraft when I booked but it was on an old Ethiopian Airlines B737-700 plane. 


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Business class was in a 2+2 configuration and was almost completely empty.


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I was in economy this time. This photo shows empty seats but economy was fully booked.


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I had a window seat in a regular (not an emergency exit) row with limited legroom, another passenger sitting next to me and the person in front of me reclining his seat from the first minute. Not the most comfortable flight of my life.


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An expected flight time of 1 hour and 45 minutes was announced.

It was raining at Dar Airport.


photo 16

A packed refreshing towel was offered.

Push-back was at 07.47 for a scheduled departure time of 07.40. We took off at 08.00 from runway 23.

A hot breakfast was offered 20 minutes after take-off. There was a choice of fried eggs or omelette. I chose the omelette. It came with sausage, beans and potatoes. It was fresh and very good. A small fruit salad, bread, butter and yoghurt were also on the tray. Drink service came shortly after (tea, coffee, water, fruit juices).


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It was cloudy outside most of the flight so not much could be seen.

We landed at Blantyre Airport at 08.35 and were at the gate at 08.39 for a scheduled arrival time of 08.40.

The view during landing:


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A Cessna 208B Grand Caravan at Blantyre Airport.


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Blantyre Airport is quite small.


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About 90% of the passengers disembarked in Blantyre.

The cabin during our stop:


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Malawi has two main cities, Blantyre and Lilongwe. The distance by road between them is 315 kms and driving time is about five hours. There are two Malawi Airlines flights on most days. A one-way ticket costs around 65 € which is out of reach for most Malawians.

Some more passengers embarked but the plane was only less than half full for the Blantyre to Lilongwe segment. The seat next to mine became empty so I was a bit more comfortable.

An expected flight time of 30 minutes was announced.

We left our parking position at 09.10 for a scheduled departure time of 09.10. We had to wait for a landing Malawi Airline plane then we took off at 09.19.

There was no service on this short domestic flight.

We landed at Lilongwe Airport at 09.46 and were at the gate at 09.50 for a scheduled arrival time of 09.40.


photo 24

A Cessna 210 run by Nyasa Express (formerly Ulendo Airlink), a small Malawian charter airline with a fleet of Cessna 210, Cessna Grand Caravan, King Air 200 and Pilatus 12 aircrafts.


photo 25

Our plane after landing.


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The airport is quite small and old fashioned but it was not crowded and I got my visa on arrival quite quicky.

My impressions of Malawi

Bordered by Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, landlocked Malawi is one of the least known countries in Africa. Most people outside of Africa have never heard about it. It's a very peaceful and safe place. Entry is straightforward with visa on arrival. It’s a poor country but it has beautiful hills, a lake almost as large as a sea, good infrastructure, some good hotels and several national parks and nature reserves. Lilongwe is a spread out city with a lot of green areas but also bustling with commerce from the thousands of street vendors to the traditional markets and more modern malls. Malawi does not have any world famous sights yet it offers a truly authentic African experience.

The road near the airport.


photo 27

Approaching Kuti Wildlife Resort.


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A zebra crossing.


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I stayed at Sunbird Livingstonia, a good quality lakeside resort.


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Fishing boats at the nearby village.


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Verdict

Malawian Airlines

5.8/10
Cabin5.0
Cabin crew5.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering8.0

Dar es Salaam - DAR

8.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Lilongwe - LLW

7.5/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.5
Services6.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

Dar Airport was not crowded and was easy to use. Malawi Airline's former Ethiopian Airlines' plane was not comfortable but there was a good hot breakfast service and the flight was on time.

Related

6 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 640156 by
    fiftytwo GOLD 1383 Comments
    Hello david , thanks for the trip and the bonus and all details , its really interesting

    reclining his seat from the first minute ....


    oh gosh i hate these people , at least flight was short

    A one-way ticket costs around 65 € which is out of reach for most Malawians


    65€ is on the lower range of what i saw for domestic flights on this continent , but still you are right , its a dream for locals

    i tried to explain to a friend why glasses are out of reach for many people in africa , she mentionned to me that she bought her glasses for 30$ only on albaba/aliexpress and based on the fact that she read somewhere that median/average (dont remember which one) income in sub saharian countries is around 200$ per month ; she claimed it is very easy for people there to get glasses if they want ........ no comment , i just stopped conversation and moved on

    Most people outside of Africa have never heard about it.


    There are many countries in this continent most people have never heard about unfortunately
    • Comment 640161 by
      bldavid GOLD AUTHOR 302 Comments
      Hello fiftytwo and thank you for your comment which I appreciate. A salary of 200$ per month is often considered a good salary, and many people choose the cheaper options for almost everything even if the difference is only 1$ or 2$. There are of course people who have a higher income; the situation in most African countries has greatly improved since the 1990s and the middle class is getting larger. Most people outside of Africa never heard about Malawi: one of the main characteristics of world tourism is that people do not travel to nice/interesting countries but to the ones they've already heard of.
  • Comment 640372 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6577 Comments
    I always enjoy your reports on lesser-known carriers to exotic destinations! Great service for a relatively short flight with a full hot meal. Too bad the seats weren't comfortable. They look comfortable, but I imagine they haven't had their cushions changed since the Ethiopian days so they're probably hard as a rock, packed down by thousands of people's weight over the years.

    Thanks for sharing!
    • Comment 640396 by
      bldavid GOLD AUTHOR 302 Comments
      Hi and thank you for your comment. Sure, Malawi is a little-known but very peaceful destination. The flight was fully booked in economy which greatly decreased the level of comfort. And I don't remember the last time I had a hot and good breakfast onboard a narrowbody plane.
  • Comment 640821 by
    East African 1569 Comments
    Intriguing that flight TC4415 to Accra... any more infos?
    Malawi Airlines does the job, can you get miles/points?
    Since my last visit there in 2010, the terminal hasn't visually changed!
    True, Malawi is a gem in Africa often forgotten by tourists.

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