Be sure to check out parts 1-3 first!

Part 1 (Chicago-Istanbul) CLICK HERE!

Part 2 (Istanbul-Singapore) CLICK HERE!

Part 3 (Singapore-Male) CLICK HERE!

 

FLIGHT #4: MALE (Velana)-RANGALI ISLAND (Conrad)

Aviation Geek Details:

  • Airline and flight number: Trans Maldivian Airways flight # 8Q149
  • Route: Male (Velana)-Rangali Island (Conrad hotel)
  • Aircraft: de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter Floatplane
  • Airplane (registration and year built):8Q-TME, built in 1982
  • Miles flown: 69 miles
  • Flight duration: 30 minutes
  • Class of Service and Seat: Economy, seat 2C
  • This is my: 676th flight on 95 airlines.
  • This is my: 1st flight on Trans Maldivian Airways
  • This is my: 1st flight on a de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter Floatplane

The Routing:

Not our flight. Some flights track here and other flights don’t. This is one of the multiple flights between Male and Rangali island every day.

 

A quick ride from the Ocean Grand and we were back at Male Velana airport where the Aeroflot crew had just arrived.

 

Trans Maldivian Airways, which by the way is the largest seaplane operator not only in the Maldives but in the world, has a relatively small check-in area in the arrivals area of the airport.

 

Not surprisingly, the weight of checked and cabin baggage is strictly monitored.

 

A summary of all of your luggage and its weight was given after check-in.

 

As we’re boarding passes.

 

All cabin luggage was tagged, we were on flight 149 bound for the Conrad on Rangali Island.

 

A short bus ride from the terminal took us to the Conrad’s dedicated lounge where we waited for our flight.

 

The lounge was nicely appointed and most importantly had…

 

snacks, wifi, and AC. After a 1-hour wait, we were taken again by bus to the actual Trans Maldivian Airways terminal/pier.

 

The Trans Maldivian Airways pier was very busy with seaplanes coming and going every few minutes. After a 15 minute wait, boarding was called and we walked all the way to the end of the pier where 8Q-TME, a DHC-6 Twin Otter Floatplane was waiting for us. You can check out my flight video report to get a birds-eye view of the boarding process as well as the entire flight.

 

The floatplane was arranged in a 1-2 configuration with a very low ceiling and no air conditioning. With a total of 16 passengers, boarding was completed quickly and soon the engines were started and we were floating to the “runway”. The taxi was surprisingly long, maybe 5 minutes or so, but eventually, those engines came to life and we were soon soaring over Venata international airport and the capitol island of Male.

 

With a view directly into the cockpit, my head kept bobbing between my huge window and the cockpit window. Leveling off at about 2,500 feet, we had spectacular views of the various islands and atolls.

 

Who needs an in-flight magazine with such beautiful views?

 

You know I had to tear myself away from the window long enough to check-out the fleet page. With a 49 strong fleet, TMA is the largest seaplane operator. We definitely weren’t on one of the air-conditioned VIP planes!

 

A little history on the Twin Otter.

 

The safety information card front and…

 

back. I guess you still need a flotation device even in a downed seaplane.

 

The Maldives is composed of 22 atolls and approximately 1,200 islands. You can see one of the atolls directly below the engine…

 

 

and another here.

 

 

Trans Maldivian Airways is the definition of barefoot flying.

 

About 25 minutes after take-off from Male, we were descending through 1,600 feet on our way to a…

 

smooth landing at Rangali island.

 

10 of the 16 passengers on board disembarked on Rangali island while the last 6 remained on board for the short, ten-minute hop to the One and Only resort. A quick walk from the dock to the reception area and I was enjoying a…

 

a refreshing raspberry sorbet. Welcome to paradise.

Flight Review:

  • Experience/Total stars: Okay/ 2.8 out of 5 stars. Using my technical parameters, this flight gets a 2.8 out of 5 stars but the unique nature of flying in a seaplane for the first time makes this a 5 star flight in my mind!
  • Check-in: 3/5. Pretty average, not too crowded, could have moved a bit faster.
  • Lounge: N/A
  • Boarding: 5/5. No fuss, no muss, open seating.
  • Seat: 1/5. Seats are firm with horrible legroom but what do you expect from a seaplane?
  • In-Flight Entertainment: 4/5. The only airline provided entertainment is an in-flight magazine (which was actually pretty good), but the scenery unfolding outside of the huge windows more than makes up for anything else lacking.
  • Meals: N/A
  • Cabin Crew: N/A
  • Cabin ambiance: 3/5. The cabin is pretty basic but again, those huge windows more than make up for the minimalist surroundings.
  • Cabin cleanliness: 3/5. The cabin was clean though I did put my hand in melted chocolate when I reached into the seat pocket.
  • Price paid and value for money: 2/5. Kind of pricey. $500 for the roundtrip is pretty expensive but I don’t know how much of that goes to TMA and how much (if any) goes to the Conrad.
  • Thumbs up: Unique flight, phenomenal views!
  • Thumbs down: Seriously Y’all, in the tropics, you need air conditioning.

 

Check out my flight video report for the Trans Maldivian Airways flight to Rangali Island:

 

Be sure to check out parts 1-3 as well!

Part 1 (Chicago-Istanbul) CLICK HERE!

Part 2 (Istanbul-Singapore) CLICK HERE!

Part 3 (Singapore-Male) CLICK HERE!