Air Madagascar is known locally as Air Maybe due to its track record: maybe it will take off, maybe it won’t. Although we’d tried to keep internal flights to a minimum during our six-week tour of Madagascar, some air travel couldn’t be avoided: the island is the 4th largest in the world and the road network is poor.
Flight 1 – Antananarivo to Morondava
On being picked up by our guide for our first flight, we were told that it was delayed by 30 minutes. However, having got easily and quickly checked in at what is a small domestic airport, we were boarding and taking off at the revised time. The aeroplane had a 2 by 2 configuration with boarding from the rear only. The security demonstration, in three languages (Malagasy, French and English) was laborious but we were soon being offered complimentary soft drinks and nuts. Leg room wasn’t great, but the flight was only an hour long.
Flight 2 – Toliara to Antananarivo
Our second flight had unallocated seating, despite it being a larger plane than the first, and had a 3 x 3 configuration. Surprisingly, boarding was completed relatively quickly and wasn’t the total confusion I’d anticipated. Once again, we had soft drinks and nuts, and landed 10 minutes early. But then had to wait 20 minutes for our luggage and although this might seem picky, ours was the only flight to land at the time.
Flight 3 – Antananarivo to Antisiranana
After two relatively painless journeys, our luck ran out. All appeared to be going well until an announcement said the flight to Tamatave was cancelled but there would be another flight in the afternoon. Phew, not our flight! A few minutes later, we were told our flight would be delayed by 3 hours, but to be fair, vouchers for a drink and sandwich were made available in the next-door international terminal. Here we chatted to passengers on the Tamatave flight and found their original flight time was 7.15am with a revised time of 3pm. Suddenly, three hours didn’t seem too bad. This time the plane appeared a little tired and three overhead lockers were taped up and out of use. Once again, it was soft drinks and nuts on the 1 hour 55-minute flight. We landed exactly 3 hours late.
Flight 4 – Nosy Be to Antananarivo
This time we set off and landed bang on time and guess what, it was soft drinks and nuts.
The luggage allowance is 20kg for hold luggage and although we’d been told it was 6kg for hand luggage, signs and scales told us it was now 5kg. Fortunately, we were just within the limit.
Our experience was varied, but I’d never trust Air Madagascar if I had a connecting flight or an important appointment on arrival.