Tim Foolery

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Air KBZ Economy (RGN-NYU-HEH)

There are a few ways to get around from city to city in Myanmar. You can hire a driver and depending on where you are going, your travels could take an entire day. You could take the romanticized route and take the train. Unfortunately the trains are not as efficient as those in Europe and the journey can take 12 to 18 or more hours. These trains are not the equivalent of the Orient Express either. The trains are old and bare bones. I really contemplated taking the train for one of our legs, but did a bit more research and found that the leg I was really reviewing often took 24 to 36 hours and that would be utterly awful.

We decided to fly, which was the recommendation from our local guides. I was and little nervous about the domestic carriers in Myanmar because they had some safety issues historically. Those issues are all but gone now. There are a couple of carriers you can choose from. Most of our flights were on Air KBZ.

The terminal at Yangon. Large open spaces with lots of opportunity to bypass security.

Why does airport carpet look so awful everywhere in the world? Another shot of Yangon Airport.

When boarding the Air KBZ flight in Yangon this gentleman walked around the terminal, reminding us it was time to board.

I had never heard of Air KBZ  before, but this Myanmar based carrier operates a series of flights on various circuits. The flight starts in Yangon, goes to Bagan then continues on to Heho (serving Inle Lake) then back to Yangon. There are other circuits too.  These routes are operated by ATR-72 (both 500s and 600s). The ATR-72 600s are brand new and the 500s are not that old.

The Departures Board for Air KBZ

Our handwritten boarding pass for Air KBZ. On this leg there were no assigned seats – just a free for all.

A sticker from Air KBZ, so you don’t accidentally board the wrong flight.

Our beautiful ATR-600. This new plane in the Air KBZ fleet was modern and comfortable for the less than 60 minute flights.

The trip from the Yangon Terminal to the Air KBZ flight could have been walked in a couple of minutes, but we all piled onto a bus and drove the 300 meters.

We flew Air KBZ twice, once from Yangon (RGN) to Bagan (NYU) then next from Bagan to Inle LAKE  (HEH). Both of these flights were less than an hour and were really nice.  It doesn’t compare to EVA Royal Laurel Business Class or Thai Royal Orchid First, of course, but the planes were new and clean (ahem….I’m looking at you, United) and the strive onboard was quick, efficient and friendly.

My knees were quite snug on the Air KBZ Flights. For less than 60 minutes it is doable, but this pitch wouldn’t work on a long haul!

Each of our Air KBZ Flights had a meal. It was quickly served and quickly retrieved before landing.

The lunch box, filled with two types of tiny sandwiches, a cake of some sort and a milk chocolate.

The brown bread and cheese sandwich was my favorite — but that’s not saying much.

I couldn’t pick out the flavors on this cake. It was yellow and a little chocolate, plus a flavorless jelly on top.

You don’t have many options for you intra-Myanmar flights, but I’d highly recommend Air KBZ for these shirt hops.  Unfortunately, you can’t credit your miles to a mainline western air program, but it’s OK to skip the miles from time to time.

The noise cancelling headphones worked great on this turboprop. We are heading off from Yangon to Bagan here!

Deplaning was quick and painless. We boarded and exited through the rear door.

Have you traveled through Myanmar before? What was your preferred mode of transportation?  Did you have the long romantic train ride through the countryside or did you do as we did and hop on the nearest plane, which provided quick, inexpensive travel?


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