Flight Report
Yangon - Bagan

Bagan was an ancient capital with numerous historic temples. Not fond of a long bus ride or any overnight trains, I opted to do a day trip by flight from Yangon. I have read on travel forums that booking a domestic flight in Myanmar is a challenge. Engage the local travel agents and hope things run smoothly. I was a bit surprised when Air KBZ offered an online booking engine with no need to collect paper tickets. The website was easy to use and it took my credit card information with no issues. I also didn't have to collect a paper ticket upon arrival in Yangon.

Yangon airport's domestic terminal is a time warp. The counters are quite make-shift, and I got a boarding pass with no name printed on it. We were also given a boarding sticker to identify us for the flight. Nevertheless, they checked my passport against their records and assigned a seat for me.

I have never boarded a plane using a no-name boarding pass. I could have swapped it with someone else to get into the secured area.

All passengers need to board by bus. There was a huge crowd in the waiting room as many flights departed early in the morning. Announcements were made in local language and also in English, while some airlines had an attendant parade a boarding sign around the room.

The domestic terminal has traditional architecture while the international terminal next door is a new glassed facility.
I suppose these ATRs are good for short hops with many stops throughout the day?

Myanmar has quite a large number of local airlines. I wonder if many will still be around the next time I visit?

The inside of the ATR is quite new with lots of legroom - much better than the AirAsia flight that brought me to Yangon. Today's flight is almost full, with many foreign tourists on board.

Have you been on an airline that is owned by a bank? KBZ Bank is quite common around Yangon. For an airline with only 6 planes, I wasn't expecting their own in-flight magazine.
Today's flight would take about 1h15. With clear blue skies, the flight was smooth although the scenery was not too interesting with mostly flat land.
We in Asia are quite spoiled. A meal box was provided despite the short flight, similar to what I got for Angkor Air and Xiamen Airlines on their short flights.

It wasn't anything spectacular but breakfast was needed for a 7am flight. The crew came by with coffee and tea runs as well.
Bagan's airport is called Nyaung U. Dry season is the best time to visit with uninterrupted sunshine and unlimited visibility.

Temples dotted the landscape. This is going to be a spectacular day trip!

We landed uneventually in sunny Bagan. The plane made a U-turn at the end of the way as there is no taxiway. We were going to ride a 2nd hand bus from Japan into the terminal.

Being a domestic flight and since I had no checked bags, I was out into the arrival area in no time. A tourism counter has been set up there to accept payment for tickets into the archaeological zone.

I negotiated at the airport for a day tour by taxi for USD 40 and went off exploring the temples. They are quite spectacular and views from the tops of some temples were absolutely stunning. Unlike Angkor, Bagan's temples seem to be a bit more clustered and more visible with shorter trees.

After a long day walking around temples barefoot, it is time to head back to Yangon for dinner. Many passengers were already at the airport awaiting their flights out before sunset.

Similar to Yangon, check-in was at a makeshift desk. Checked bags would be weighted manually and then taken by staff across the building to a hole in the wall for screening and loading. There were no electronic flight display signs inside the terminal. Airlines displayed their schedules on boards. Passengers would be allowed into the security area and waiting lounge only when their flights are called, so I waited outside in the departure hall.

Tonight's flight would be free seating, and I got a boarding sticker with no name on my boarding pass as well.

As 5:30pm approached and the plane was nowhere in sight, I started to wonder how late we would be delayed today. Luckily, the plane did arrive just as the sun started to set. Today's delay would turn out to be not so bad.

We made a short taxi along the runway, then U-turned and roared into the sky. It was too dark to see the temples clearly by now.
Another snack box came our way. This one had a similar-looking sandwich and a brownie. Coffee and tea runs also followed. The loading was also quite high although I didn't recognize passengers from the morning here. Guess day trips by plane from Yangon are not so popular?
You know this is a new plane when the signs show laptops and mobile phones.

The Final Verdict

Go for it. Despite reading reports that flying domestically within Myanmar is not safe, KBZ flies new planes with good service on board. Navigating the airports is quite challenging and chaotic, but flying is a far better alternative to tour Bagan than taking the bus or train.