Darren Keane flies from Dhangadhi to Kathmandu, in Nepal, aboard Buddha Air flight U4252.

The plane:

An 11-year-old ATR-72.

Class: Only one, economy.

My seat: 17A, window seat one row from the back.

Price: Foreigners pay $333; for locals it’s $170.

Flight time: I arrived at the airport 20 minutes before the scheduled departure and was informed the flight would be about an hour delayed, which I’m told is fairly typical of flights into Kathmandu. Total flying time was 90 minutes.

The airport experience: The airport is very small, without even a cafe. Across the carpark was a cafe where locals were buying beer to drink with their departing friends and family.

The security check to enter the departure lounge was done manually, with security staff looking through bag contents and thoroughly examining liquids. I was asked for details about my Quick-Eze and was quizzed about the purpose of my international travel adaptor. The small departure lounge had just enough seats. A water cooler had one metallic cup for everyone to share: Nepali never touch their lips to shared drinking apparatus.

Fellow passengers: Most looked to be travelling to a wedding — including the bride and groom. I had to show one passenger where his seat was, and another how to use the seat belt.

How full: One hundred per cent.

Entertainment: No digital entertainment. There was an inflight magazine, with roughly half in English (focused on trekking stories).

The service: Friendly staff who spoke Nepali and English.

Food and drink: Two packets of salted peanuts and an overflowing cup of water. A basket of orange flavoured lollies was handed around at the start.

Facilities: Overhead vents blew only a small amount of cool air. The plane was very warm, about the same as outside Dhangadhi airport, about 36C.

The flight: The snow-peaked Himalayas were visible, poking through the clouds before descending into Kathmandu. The flight was occasionally bumpy but nothing dramatic.

Arrival: It was pouring with rain at Kathmandu. We disembarked on to shuttle buses, the crew gave parents and elderly passengers the use of an umbrella.

The verdict: A good flight and a far quicker and easier way to return to Kathmandu after my drive to the far west — albeit expensive.



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