Got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, and now it was onto the trip’s main attraction. See, this all started when I found a friend who was deployed in Djibouti would be going to Seychelles on leave for a few days…and would I like to join? An excuse to visit a new country with a good friend? Of course I would! Then I learned this was to be a scuba-centred trip, so had to get certified up for that to make the most of it. Little did I know an offer to visit one small island nation would end up consuming so much of my spring weekends! A weekend of scuba classes, an awful (hah!) vacation to the Cayman Islands to finish open water certification, and a trip around South Asia since I would be in the region. …and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Check-in was quick, and I learned the flight was completely sold out. Who knew there was so much demand for flights between Mauritius and Seychelles! Immigration and security took ten minutes top, and soon it was to the Air Seychelles lounge for a short rest. The lounge was absolutely packed thanks to a flight to Johannesburg leaving at the same time, and there was decent food and beverage on offer…well, more beverage than food. The food offerings were pretty slim. I attempted a picture, but was chastised by the food attendant, so no luck there. They also insisted on pouring all drinks for you. I couldn’t tell if that was to keep an eye on you, or an attempt to be service-oriented. No matter, a couple of glasses later, and it was time to board.
Air Seychelles flight 54, Operated by Etihad
Port Louis, Mauritius (MRU) to Mahe, Seychelles (SEZ)
Departure 17:10, Arrival 19:45, Flight Time 2:35
Airbus A320, Registration A6-EIM, Manufactured 2009
Yes, you read that right, Air Seychelles operated by Etihad! It seems Air Seychelles ran into some financial problems as a result of GFC (Global Financial Crisis) Round 1, and Abu Dhabi stepped in to the rescue. They now operate Seychelles to Abu Dhabi as well as this route, with aircraft wet-leased from Etihad. The irony is that most of our crew, despite being Etihad crew, were South African and Seychellois…I guess it’s a pretty sweet deal for them!
Champagne was offered before departure, and business class was quite generous for an A320, I would guess somewhere between 45-50 inches of seat pitch. Definitely better than you usually see on a narrow-body, and the food was much better as well. One thing gulf airlines do well, even with less than ideal aircraft, is make sure business class means business class so people will pay for it. Is anyone at US or European airlines listening? Thought not….
The crew was quite friendly, efficient, and generous topping up drinks. The meal also blew away anything you’d ever seen on a narrow body in other parts of the world. Pictures are below.
One final note on arrival in Seychelles. It’s absolutely essential to have a copy of your hotel booking. They insisted on seeing my printout – nothing on the iPhone was acceptable. Not sure what they would have done had I not had it (odd, since this is the first trip in an eternity where I actually bothered printing hard copies) but they were quite insistent on it!
ATM in the airport worked as expected, got cash, negotiated the rate WikiTravel and TripAdvisor told me to expect, and soon I was off to the hotel. About 10 minutes into the trip, we were pulled over by the local police. Seems by driver wasn’t displaying his taxi permit properly, and was going to have to pay a fine. He claimed to have just renewed it so it was sitting in the glovebox for some reason…it was all a bit shady, but eventually after my complaining to the police that he was holding up tourism, giving the country a bad name, etc etc, he decided to let the driver go with a warning. You’d think the driver would have been mildly thankful, but nope. He was still surly. Oh well, you can’t win them all.
Taxi was negotiated in Euros (guess that’s the bulk of western visitors) and after a slight reluctance he was willing to take Seychellois Rupees at the slightly (maybe 5%) disadvantageous rate that I offered with a round bill and not having to make change. They were making a steal on the short trip anyways.