4 September 2012
Great views, arriving in style...
There’s probably 2 seaplane operators in Maldives that take tourists to their respective resorts. I think they all fly different routes so depending on your resort destination, you might get Trans Maldivian Airways (coloured blue and yellow), Maldivian Air taxi (red and white). Some of the air...There’s probably 2 seaplane operators in Maldives that take tourists to their respective resorts. I think they all fly different routes so depending on your resort destination, you might get Trans Maldivian Airways (coloured blue and yellow), Maldivian Air taxi (red and white). Some of the aircrafts are painted in custom resort colours which normally flies that particular resort exclusively. Trans Maldivian Airways is the oldest operator.
Trans Maldivian Airways has its very own Sea Plane Terminal at Male` International Airport with 9 exclusive Resort Lounges and a fleet of air-conditioned buses and baggage vehicles for intra-airport transfers. The doorstep delivery and pick up at the Resorts is done at floating platforms as customized Resort Airports.
Seaplanes are NOT the only option to get to your resort, with domestic flights at Male airport and/or speedboats being the other options. Many resorts automatically come with a speedboat transfer, but there are some that can only be reached by seaplanes. Generally, people will choose the seaplane option for resorts located further away from the capital of Male.
For our recent trip to the Maldives, we stayed at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, and both the travel agent and the resort hotel recommended the use of seaplanes. Apparently only Trans Maldivian Airways fly here so it was the only choice with regards to seaplane choices. The other option was of course to take a domestic flight from Male International airport and transfer to a speedboat, an option we were glad we did not take for the seas were quite choppy that day and night. We arrived from Singapore at night and spent the first night at Male Traders Hotel so that we could do a short walking tour of the capital city in the morning. The next morning, we were transferred back to the International airport where they brought us to the sea plane terminal by mini bus. The bus journey took slightly less than 10 minutes. I think they might have separate waiting lounges for different resorts. The one we went to had welcome drinks (some mango juice) and cold towels, buffet breakfast (which was actually fairly good, better than that of Traders’ Hotel’s) and I had a free 15 minute neck and shoulder massage. They gave us each a paper bag containing a bottle of mineral water and ear plugs as well.
The sea plane flight took us about 30 minutes. The plus points for taking a seaplane: wonderful views of the beautiful islands beneathe (so don’t forget to have your camera ready), and this includes the capital city; able to reach your destination resort much more quickly compared to speedboats, and I find the taking off and landing on water much smoother compared to normal planes. Just like in the movies, it seems a classy way to arrive in style!
Ok, and now the negative parts:
1. It was extremely noisy. I really wonder if the pilots get noise induced deafness after prolonged working.
2. Do not compare this with normal planes, the interior is extremely small and seats are narrow. A single plane can take up to 15 passengers.
3. Air flow within the airplane will not be as good as those of bigger planes, it’s actually quite stuffy within, especially when the plane is full.
4. You can’t have excessive luggage on board. All the other luggage will have to be transported in another plane or by speedboat so if you have plenty of luggage these will reach you an hour or two after you arrive at your resort.
5. Sea planes do not fly at night, so if you arrive at Male after sunset you will have to stay at the airport hotel or one of the other hotels at Male capital, unless you want to do a speedboat transfer.
6. It’s actually quite expensive. I think one of the website says USD$562 for transfer both ways to Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which is about 95 km from the International airport. Not sure if the option of domestic flight followed by speedboat transfer is cheaper, we didn’t explore this option. Certain websites do offer free seaplane transfers if you stay 4 nights or more.
7. They did not give us an actual time of when we will fly until the last 24 hours of your scheduled departure, something which initially did not go down too well with a control freak like myself. I only got to know that the seaplane transfer to my resort would be at 930am on arrival the night before (which happen to be about 11pm). Apparently this is always the case and this scheduling is done by Trans Maldivian Airways rather than the resorts.
Overall, quite a fun and satisfactory experience, especially for one that haven’t been in a seaplane before, so by all means try it. I actually looked at the websites of all 3 seaplane operators and from web pictures alone, I think the black and white one looks best on its interiors. That one actually have white leather seats which are much wider, and they promised "iPads for in-flight entertainment, binoculars and Bose noise-canceling headphones", but of course that one takes about 75 minutes and it only flies to Beach House Maldives. For this current trip, we were hell bent on having Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Oh well, maybe another option to think about for my next trip to Maldives.Travelled August 2012
18 June 2015
The breathtaking view
Arrived in Male at about 8 with a slight delay (from Dubai, flying with Emirates Airline), and taken care of formalities quickly with our Tour Operator, we were sent to Trans Maldivian Airways check-in desk for our transportation to Gangehi Island Resort.
The desks of the TMA were all very crowded,...Arrived in Male at about 8 with a slight delay (from Dubai, flying with Emirates Airline), and taken care of formalities quickly with our Tour Operator, we were sent to Trans Maldivian Airways check-in desk for our transportation to Gangehi Island Resort.
The desks of the TMA were all very crowded, due to the almost contemporary aircraft arrivals of Qatar and Emirates Airline lines, so we started to stay queued patiently.
Despite the confusion, I had the impression that everyone was really well organized: on our side of the desk a guy was taking the bags of tourists and putting them on a balance, in the meantime he was showing to people where they had to support documents and where to attach the labels that were delivered.
On the other side of the desk another guy was weighing suitcases and hand luggage, noting everything on a notepad, then he printed the necessary documents and handed the labels to be pasted on baggage and hand luggage. In a few minutes (this was my impression), we were ready to get out through a side door on the right, where already many people were waiting to get on the shuttle buses, which would bring us to the waiting rooms of the TMA. A few more minutes of waiting and we too left with the minibus .
I do not know why, but I expected that the starting area of seaplanes were very close to the airport; instead our shuttle bus, queued with several others, toured around a really wide deserted area adjacent to the airport (and on this tour I could also review the Emirates aircraft with which we had arrived), stopping at the red traffic lights even in places where no one seemed to come from the other side. Finally the shuttle bus has arrived in front of the waiting rooms of the TMA. We got off and we realized how wide was the water basin for seaplanes and how many air carriers were in it "parked".
With surprising speed all tourists were identified and divided into groups, which were made to sit in an neighboring room on chairs or at the right, or at center, or at left, depending on the final destination, into which atoll they have to go.
Every few minutes it was announced a departing flight, and then a group of tourists stood up and went out following a guy who accompanied them to the seaplane.
During those ten, fifteen minutes spent in the waiting room I had the first surprise of the day. A boy came to me, he had an envelope in his hand on which my name was written. He approached me and asked me "Are you 'Mrs Piermaria Simionato? ".
"But how did he spot me in the midst of all these people?" I asked myself, while I answered “yes”. He handed me the envelope, saying it was for me and ... .that nice surprise !!!! It was the prize that I had requested to Maldives Traveller !!!! Instead in Gangehi, it had even arrived for me in Male !!!!
I put it carefully in my carry-on, imagining the joy that I felt when I opened the envelope on my arrival to the resort.
I just had time to put the envelope in my bag, when a member of TMA announced the departure of the seaplane bound for Kuramathi and Gangehi ... Oh yes, it was up to us !!!!
A tour among the wharves and immediately boarding. I was the first to board the seaplane, so I could choose the first seat on the left, where the seat are in line for one.
The pilots were two: a Maldivian and an European, blond and tanned (he could have been a German), both barefoot and experts, how could I guess.
One of them turned to us and provided us with information on the flight, then ... start!
The first stop would be Kuramathi after 15 minutes, the second stop Gangehi, after another 5 minutes.
I am ready with my camera: the day was beautiful, the view even better, my fifth Maldivian dream was beginning... Could I give up the pleasure of fixing the images of the beautiful islands in the blue and green sea from the sky?
And so... those twenty minutes to get to Gangehi are flown. Before I photographed the beautiful Male from above, then some other island with its ring of emerald sea, then the blue below us for about ten minutes. So even islands, more or less large and ... Kuramathi Island Resort in sight!.
Some passengers were already impatient, eager to get down to their resort that they had already recognized from above.
The landing from the seaplane was fast, just a few minutes, , then some other tourists went up on our seaplane, because they had to return to Malè, of course not before having accompanied us to Gangehi.
Five more minutes and the island, which I had long looked in photographs and various images on the web, has appeared on the horizon, recognizable.
It took a few minutes to disembark us from the seaplane and get on the speedy boat that would take us to Gangehi, beginning so our wonderful holiday to the Maldives of this year.Travelled maggio 2015
4 January 2015
The spectacle below
For the "scenic" part, I refer you to my review (here on Maldives Traveller too) from last year .. this fact remains unchanged.
In this review, I consider more what, I have noticed, is changed in the management of the service since the two seaplanes' companies (TMA and MAT) are fuse...For the "scenic" part, I refer you to my review (here on Maldives Traveller too) from last year .. this fact remains unchanged.
In this review, I consider more what, I have noticed, is changed in the management of the service since the two seaplanes' companies (TMA and MAT) are fused into one.
After the exit from the international airport, the reception's formalities at our resort's counter and the check-in of our baggages, we are accompanied to the shuttle bus to TMA airport.
Already inside the bus, it happens something new! Passengers are notified in which terminal they must step down! A, B or C, depending on where is located the waiting place (waiting lounge or common area) of the resort that we must reach. A quick look at our boarding cards for the seaplane reveals the right stop. Not that the terminals are located in a big distance (indeed they are very close) and be distracted about when getting off the bus, could damage the process of our journey.. but, this is already a sign of how "things" go towards to a management of a "real" airport.
My intuition, in fact, is strengthened by the various monitors, present in the waiting's places, displaying acronyms for each single resort, revealing us the take-off time and the course of our flight, including stopovers.
Now, I will make you laugh.. But I'm, personally, developing a certain allergy to Palm Beach! Because in my last two visits, it was always set, as stopover, in the middle of my transfer! I have already enough aerial, sandbank and arrival jetty pictures of Palm Beach (without ever having set a single foot on it!!) to publish a decent photo gallery.
The waiting time at TMA, in contrast to many, is for me never a problem, in fact, I enjoy wandering through the terminals, the various lounges and take pictures, especially if I have a 'buddy' that would never board without me!
For me, this waiting time, which many of us hate, becomes a time of discovery. My curiosity about the different resorts is, in part, satisfied when I discover their lounge at the seaplane terminal. For
us, who work in the hospitality, the very first contact that the customer has with a structure is fundamental. It happened to me, to see a lounge's entry of one of the most luxurious resorts adorned with a nice lot of junk! Okay.. probably, they did not have their customers using the lounge that day.. but.. I had to pass in front it to reach my lounge.. and I assure you that, knowing what it costs to spend a night in that resort, I was appalled and I still haven't 'digested' the 'crime'. Moreover, if we recall the fact that TMA is moving towards a modern management of its airport, I do not know to whom attribute the failure to properly clean the common areas!
My last two seaplane's flights brought also a huge surprise for me (and still I am here, wondering why TMA never official mentioned this!!). The windows of seaplanes are decidedly .. "widened"!!
Perhaps not all of you have noticed (I did!!), and perhaps not all aircrafts are changed. Surely, were the last two on which I boarded! A pleasure for those who does not sleep, tired from international flight (yes, there are!) and photograph the amazing panorama below.
Another new feature is a kind of last waiting room, air-conditioned, external to terminals, located right at the beginning of the jetties to reach the seaplanes. A final gathering place for passengers before the flight.
That's all for now. I'm just curious to find out what will be new at TMA in my next trip, in 2 weeks. Travelled novembre 2014
3 October 2013
Beautifull view from the sky
Wait wait wait....
This was the third transfer we did with TMA, and any time we must wait at least 1 hour before take off. They must improve the organization for the transfer because every time is a lost of time. We arrive in international airport in the early morning but never be in resort before 12.00 am, with at le...This was the third transfer we did with TMA, and any time we must wait at least 1 hour before take off. They must improve the organization for the transfer because every time is a lost of time. We arrive in international airport in the early morning but never be in resort before 12.00 am, with at least 3 hour for a tranfer of 70/80Km.
In any case the take off is always good, as the landing, and the personal is always smiling.Travelled August 2013
Fong San Ng
12 October 2012
bird view at atolls of Maldives
For getting to nearby resort from Male International Airport, resort will arrange speedboat transfer for visitor, speedboat transfer can be arrange anytime in a day, therefore you still can check in to your hotel even if you arrive at night.
However, for getting those further resorts, tourists wi...For getting to nearby resort from Male International Airport, resort will arrange speedboat transfer for visitor, speedboat transfer can be arrange anytime in a day, therefore you still can check in to your hotel even if you arrive at night.
However, for getting those further resorts, tourists will need to take seaplane to transfer to their resort, resort will help you to arrange this and seaplane transfer cost will be charged to your payment once you made reservation. However, seaplane transfer can only be arranged during daytime, so you might need to book a hotel in Male if your flight arrive late or depart early.
Our resort is Vilamendhoo, it is located at South Ari Atoll in Maldives, it is about 25 minutes travel time by seaplane. Actually, it was a good experience to travel with seaplane as we can view the atoll of Maldives from bird view through seaplane's glass.
Seaplane in Maldives is operated by Trans Maldivian (tma - www.tam.com.mv) and Maldivian Air Taxi (http://www.maldivianairtaxi.com) while we were arranged with Trans Maldivian, which is another domestic flight terminal from Maldives International Airport, they also provide transport between these two terminals by bus. Currently, I think domestic flight area is more attractive than international flight area, it might be different after 2014.
At seaplane transfer area, some resorts will provide lounge area for their customers, like our resort, else tourists will need to wait at waiting area but there is well equipped if compared with waiting area of international terminal. I pretty like the lounge from Vilamendhoo Island Resort it is comfortable and we can have a good view of seaplane parking area.
If you come to Maldives, you might consider to find a resort which need to access by seaplane so that you can view the atoll from plane, this is really a good experience though seaplane transfer cost is high, the ticket is more than our international flight from Penang to Maldives.
On the day when we go to our resort, seaplane people will distribute a pair of earplug for every passenger to isolate noise going into ear. And, we need to retain those earplug on your returning trip, so that it can be reused on the returning trip, else you won't get another pairs.
Before I came to Maldives, I kept asking my resort about my seaplane schedule but they told me it's only will be available on the day before departure, I didn't know why they only provided it at the last minute, isn't seaplane schedule are constant everyday? And after I was in Maldives, I realized that seaplane schedule is really not constant everyday, it keeps changing according to tourist's need, if there is no tourist check in or check out from certain resort, then there will no seaplane arrange to that area. Therefore, TMA will only arrange their schedule according to resort's booking a day before, in case if there is any last minute cancellation from resort's customer.
This really needs a good planner to fully utilize every seat in seaplane, therefore sometime a seaplane will stop at different stops to pick up or drop off passenger to/from different resorts. However, from what I observe during research for a resort, seaplane fare is not too much different for different traveling time. For example, a resort needs a 45 minutes to reach and a resort needs a 25 minutes to reach actually asking a similar seaplane fare.
Travelled September 2012
1 October 2012
The Views and the traditional style of service
Having to board to go home
What a way to travel, With fantastic views overlooking the Indian ocean, what more can you ask for.
As soon as you arrive at the sea plane terminal, you are welcomed with such a warm welcome from all the TMA staff, with entrance into the Kuramathi lounge, the TMA staff work very well alongside the ...What a way to travel, With fantastic views overlooking the Indian ocean, what more can you ask for.
As soon as you arrive at the sea plane terminal, you are welcomed with such a warm welcome from all the TMA staff, with entrance into the Kuramathi lounge, the TMA staff work very well alongside the Lounge crew, to make your wait more enjoyable.
Once we boarded the Sea plane we only waited moments to taxi.
Our Transfer only took approximately 25 mins, The crew had a very profesional maner and could not fault the care and attention they made to make the transfer more relaxing.
Once we landed in the ocean and step foot onto the moving jetty, we only waited a coupe of minutes for the boat to take us the last few hundred yard to paradise.
The Sea plane transfers really did make it a the start to remeber. TMA have worked and dedicated years of profesionalism to make such a fantastic Holiday transfer. Keep up the good work and see you in April 2013.
Travelled April 2012
30 September 2012
It was frightening to get in at first as the planes are really small, look pretty unstable and the seats are very close to each other. This was the first time flying a seaplane. But the experience was truly worth it - the views to the islands were fantastic! Even though the noise was big, it was the...It was frightening to get in at first as the planes are really small, look pretty unstable and the seats are very close to each other. This was the first time flying a seaplane. But the experience was truly worth it - the views to the islands were fantastic! Even though the noise was big, it was the only drawback we can mention.Travelled October 2010
18 September 2012
The birds eye views
going back to male to come home on one/ the price
I have to admit to being slightly apprehensive about travelling by sea plane, having seen and heard them on previous trips. However needs must, so I put aside my fears and got on.
We were travelling down to the South Ari so about a 30 minute journey from Male, the check in and baggage is all very...I have to admit to being slightly apprehensive about travelling by sea plane, having seen and heard them on previous trips. However needs must, so I put aside my fears and got on.
We were travelling down to the South Ari so about a 30 minute journey from Male, the check in and baggage is all very well organised at Male airport, and then a mini bus ride to the sea plane terminal, the mini buses get pretty full and your luggage is taken separately ,so i would always take a small bag with essentials in should your luggage end up travelling separately.
The resort we were going to had a private sea plane lounge so I can't comment on the terminal facilities.
We waited about 25/30 mins to board which gave us time to have a drink and check in for the hotel.
I was watching the sea planes bobbing around and started to have doubts about them, however as needs must I got on board they are compact to say the least and we had a great view of the barefoot pilots cockpit.
It was actually quite smooth on the plane, the engines started and the noise too, and we started to taxi for our take off, it again was very smooth and take off was over and done and we were up with amazing views of the atolls, the views are simply amazing, it was like watching a series of postcard pictures, whilst it was noisy on board and you are not able to hold a conversation it can't of been that bad as my husband managed to fall asleep. On descent into the resort we could see Dolphins, Turtles and sting rays below us, the landing was again smooth a bit choppy but no more than turbulence feels like.
So if your reading this with any doubts about taking a seaplane flight, then my advice is put your fears aside and get on board, take in the amazing views and enjoy, in my opinion its over far too quickly!!!!!!!
Travelled August 2011