by Andreas Rohde
PHOTOS: ANDREAS ROHDE
Flights: HM005, HM3084, HM3197, HM006
Route: Frankfurt (IATA: FRA/ICAO: EDDF)–Mahé (SEZ/FSIA)–Praslin (PRI/FSPP)– Mahé–Frankfurt
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER, DHC- 6 Twin Otter 300, Shorts 360, 767-300
Air Seychelles uses Terminal 2 at Frankfurt, a modern structure that was opened a few years ago. The terminal offers an attractive plaza with several fast-food restaurants, plus a nice view of the ramp. A large playground is available for children. A duty free shop and other stores are located beyond passport control.
Check-in, handled by Fraport (the airport operator), was fast and friendly.
On European flights Air Seychelles uses two Boeing 767-300ERs in a C24Y222 configuration. The aircraft employed on the first sector (S7-AHM) was equipped with standard economy seats, with an 82cm (32in) pitch. On the return flight, sistership S7-ASY had more modern and comfortable seats with a base that tilts backward when the seat reclines, offering a very comfortable position, as well as foot-rests installed under the front seat. Overall, this 767 offered the best economy class seating that I have so far experienced on any long-haul service.
A decorative touch in the economy cabin.
The cabin crew started the service with the distribution of complimentary headphones and socks, as well as menus, and item long gone from many other airlines. A first round of drinks was served about 30 minutes after take off, together with pretzels. Dinner included a choice of three hot entrees (main courses), salad, rolls, cake for dessert, crackers and cheese. Drinks were offered together with the meal, tea and coffee thereafter.
My Creole fish fillet was excellent, and the best economy class meal I have had for many years.
Twice during the night flight the crew offered water and juice. In the morning passengers were awakened with hot refreshing towels, followed by a cold breakfast tray, which contained the usual assortment of ham and cheese, cold rolls, croissants, marmalade, and fruit salad.
The service on the return flight was of the same high quality.
For in-flight entertainment, the aircraft was equipped with several video monitors mounted under the ceiling along both aisles. The program featured one movie, sport and news programs, as well as a destination video. On both sectors, visibility from our seats was relatively poor, as was the sound transmission through the head-phones. The sound system offered eight different music channels. ‘Silhouette’, Air Seychelles’s in-flight magazine, provided some interesting reading with a number of well-written stories—mainly about the Seychelles—alternating in English and French.
All five cabin crewmembers working in economy were very friendly and attentive, despite the length of the night flight. Announcements were made in English and French, although on the first sector they were difficult to understand. The safety briefing was also given in German.
At Mahé all parking stands directly face the terminal and passengers can easily walk to the arrivals hall. Immigration took about 20 minutes and baggage delivery was well underway when we had our passports stamped. A bus stop to Victoria, the island’s capital, is located only about 200m away; however, passengers with luggage are strongly recommended not to take this service.
Flights to the outlying islands leave from an adjacent domestic terminal. After a fast check-in, we spent the waiting time outside the terminal in the shadow of some flamboyant trees, instead of inside an
uninspiring air-conditioned waiting lounge.
Arrival over the Seychelles.
On inter-island flights, Air Seychelles does not provide cabin service and with a full load of passengers, accommodation on the 20-seat Twin-Otter was relatively cramped.
A Twin Otter at Praslin, a 15-minute hop from Mahé.
Our return flight to Mahé was on the airline’s sole Shorts 360, which offered a considerable improvement in passenger comfort. However, on a 12-minute flight this does not really matter.
The small airport at Praslin has been upgraded recently with a new terminal that surely is among the finest in its class. Especially noteworthy is a good seafood restaurant on top of the terminal with a colonial-style viewing terrace.
All four flights operated exactly to schedule.
Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles, seen from the Frankfurt-bound 767.
Air Seychelles is one of the smallest independent international air carriers, yet one with a distinctive local touch. Some minor shortcomings were more than offset by the charming friendliness of the airline’s personnel and its comfortable aircraft cabins. Air Seychelles can be regarded as one of the best choices to travel to this beautiful island nation.
(A profile of Air Seychelles appeared in the October 2004 issue of Airways.)
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