KM308 Flight Report : Malta - Munich

After 5 wonderful days in Malta, I had to find my way to Salzburg.

Star Alliance redemptions were expensive for a 2-hour flight and involve a connection, while oneworld didn't have anything due to much poorer airline coverage in Europe. Ryanair and easyJet didn't fly this route or to nearby cities either.

Air Malta came to the rescue with either a Vienna or Munich flight. Since Salzburg was about the same distance from either one, with similar train/bus fares, I picked the cheaper one to Munich. Pricing was similar to a budget carrier, with different fare classes having different bag drop time cutoffs. My fare was a bit more expensive due to checked baggage, which allowed me to reserve a seat but drop my bag at minimum an hour before my flight. The most expensive Economy fare would have a 45-minute cutoff.

The airport "express" bus from Silema only has hourly service, so I was a bit worried their perpetual delays and traffic could mean any small margin of error could easily be erased. Not wanting to take any chances, I decided to head to the airport in the morning to drop my bag off first, then head back to the city to sightsee. I wasted an hour going back and forth on the bus, but at least I had peace of mind my boarding pass was ready and bag on its way.

Although it arrived at my stop a full 5 minutes early., the X2 bus seemed to have taken forever turning around every little nook and cranny before arriving at the terminal almost an hour later. If I didn't have a big bag with me, I would have taken a city bus to Valletta to catch the X4 instead and save 15 minutes.

There were 3 Air Malta check-in counters in the small terminal building. For a flag carrier, I was surprised the presence was so small, about the same as the other foreign airlines operating here. One was for their Club passengers, 1 for online check-in, and 1 was specifically for the Milan flight. A long line of passengers were waiting in the Milan line, so I went straight to the online check-in line, which had 1 person ahead of me and my bag was tagged and boarding pass issued efficiently. My hand baggage was weighed and tag affixed as well.

Happy this whole process took only 5 minutes, I rushed back out to catch the 11:04 X4 bus back into Valletta, which took only a mere 30 minutes. I had enough time to visit the State Rooms and a quick look at the Palace Armoury before catching the 12:35 bus back to the airport.

I noticed at the terminus, some buses actually leave a few minutes earlier than scheduled, while most of the buses had their clocks ahead one hour. The X4 bus got off to a good start, running truly express and arriving at the Marsa Park & Ride only 15 minutes later. This would make me very comfortable for my 1:50pm boarding time. But buses are always unpredictable. The driver got off there, and we waited a good 10 minutes not knowing what is happening before another driver got on to continue. We eventually pulled into the terminal at 1:05pm, which was still a decent travel time but got my nerves going for a bit.

By now, the Air Malta counters were empty and the Emirates crew came in to check in. How a widebody could make this market work was beyond me, although their flight would also stop in Cyprus on the way to Dubai.

Security check was efficient and not as strict as in London. I soon emerged airside in the duty-free store and then the packed departure lounge. There are no bridges here, so passengers either walk out or take the bus. The airport is not designed to handle many concurrent flights and the gate areas don't really have much seating, so everyone is bunched up in the restaurants or the big pit lounge. The food options were actually quite good with a cafeteria that also offers an outdoor section for smokers.

Since the planes were not parked so close to the terminal, spotting was not too good here.

Honey rings are a delicious snack but they are far cheaper in the city.

My departure gate was not available until around 1:30pm, and we were bunched up next to the delayed Lufthansa Frankfurt flight. I think we all fitted into a single bus, and the short journey to the tarmac was quite good - I saw 2 Air Malta planes (one was our flight), the Emirates widebody, the Lufthansa one next gate down, and a Eurowings.

Today's flight to Munich was not full and we closed the doors 4 minutes ahead of schedule. The safety video featured the famous Maltese knight, which was quite amusing and light-hearted.

The seats looked a bit tired and Business Class was only a few rows in front with the middle seat blocked off. My row had its middle seat empty so I had a Business Class-like experience for myself as well.

The window was quite scratched up so photo-taking on departure was not too great. This time we took off to the west so I was able to see the south side of Malta that I didn't get on the inbound flight. We took a northwards turn before flying over Gozo and were on our way for the 2-hour flight to Munich.

The crew announced a paid cart food service first, followed by distribution of free water and a sandwich after. They were playing the flight map on the screens above us. While I noticed a channel button on the left armrest, there was no IFE and headphones were not distributed.

The weather was decent except a few occasional bumps around Sicily but it got smooth again over the rest of Italy. I dozed off as clouds had gathered below and I couldn't spot Rome along the way. I woke up as we were crossing the Alps and the skies have cleared once again. It was time to land already.

The sun was setting over Munich and they were having a great day as well. The lower elevations near the airport did not have much snow cover but it was not a warm day at all.

We landed just behind schedule and parked at the sleek Terminal 2.

I have always been impressed by German design. Terminal 2 was heaps better than the old Terminal 1 with simple yet elegant design thanks to a good use of black and white colours plus some lights. Arrivals and departures share the same space but it was a fairly long walk to the trains for arrivals.

I sat at the front of the plane and hence was amongst the first passengers to reach the baggage carousel. Unlike other airports, there was a sign saying how many minutes would the first bags come out, and it was accurate. It wasn't a very long wait before I saw my bag.

I had some time to wait before my train to Salzburg, so I grabbed a snack at the supermarket in the terminal (great amenity) and went upstairs above the check-in counters for some peace and serenity. They had some chairs in the spacious lobby before the restaurants that few seem to utilize.

Air Malta offers a decent in-flight experience with a simple meal. I booked at a budget carrier's price so it was quite good value for money. The buses to Malta's airport don't run too well and caused a bit of stress to reach the airport. On the Munich side, trains go to the city directly so it was a much more pleasant experience.

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