Nepalese internal flights

You’ve got to Kathmandu, you don’t have the extra two weeks needed to walk all the way in and out, so let’s get some flights..

Flights to the more mountainous areas of Nepal (which is quite a lot of it) are a fun proposition. They do have a schedule, but like a lot of things in this country, it’s more of a best guess. The main dependency is weather. The planes are unencumbered by superfluous fripperies like satellite navigation or radar, so as a sign above the check-in desk reads – “In Nepal we do not fly through clouds, as often they have rocks in them.”

Even getting tickets can be a challenge. The flights from Kathmandu to anywhere inside Nepal aren’t going to turn up when you search on Expedia or Skyscanner. The airlines only turn up on the web if you know who to search for. They do have online booking – of sorts. It works like this..

  • You fill an online form. This basically sends them an email.
  • They email you back to tell you what flight they’ve actually booked you on. You email them back to politely explain that actually you’re not in the country at that point / are leaving the day before the return flight they’ve allocated / don’t want to go to Tumlingtar, and could they please get you on a flight on the dates and to the destination requested.
  • They email you back with a confirmation, and a form for you to fill in that looks something like this

  • You try to fax this back to an implausibly long phone number, then someone picks up at the other end and tries to talk to your fax machine
  • You then give up and email back a scan of it, and cancel your credit card as soon as the payment goes out, or in fact any payment goes out you don’t recognise.
  • You turn up in Kathmandu holding a scrap of paper with a booking reference, go to the airline’s office in Thamel and hope against hope that there is actually a seat booking for you on a flight going to the right place on the right day

You can do this through a travel agent in Kathmandu, but it is basically the same only with more potential for confusion and more likelihood of you card details getting into the hands of someone with dubious ethics.

Amazingly, most of the time this works.

So what does the money get you? A flight on something like this –

(note the ‘boxes of provisions’ style footrests in first class at the front) to land an airport like this –

Yes, before you ask, the runway is about 12 degrees downhill. It also ends in a cliff, at both ends, and is the only as long as the minimum length specified for the planes that land there.

If you want to virtually experience the joy of a landing at Lukla, thisĀ is pretty representative.

Top Gun? Rank amateurs


One thought on “Nepalese internal flights

  1. Pingback: one month to go celebration blog! | Trek for Tommy's

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