We experienced the Wings Air service on flights from Labuan Bajo to Ende and back. Both of these flights will be covered in this post.
Check in for the flight at Komodo Airport (Labuan Bajo):
After checking in, you have to pay the airport tax, which is never included in the cost of tickets in Indonesia. Be careful, as the cashiers here, like in many developing countries, might also try to sign you up for "optional extra" insurance.
Boarding safety instructions courtesy of Wings Air:
Is your flight late or did you miss your plane? Don't panic - book a charter. They're not cheap, but they are reliable. There was an advertisement for such services in the waiting area:
Our ATR 72-500 on the apron:
A flight attendant. All of the Wings Air flight attendants that I saw were young and attractive. I suspect that this is company policy.
Passing over a volcano:
On board, there was a leaflet with prayers for a variety of religions, including some local ones that I'd never heard of:
At the airport in Ende. An old Mercedes tanker is fueling the plane.
Ende's air control tower: very charming.
Here comes the luggage:
Our return flight took place half a day later. After passing through the security checkpoint, I made my way to the edge of the airstrip hoping to take a few pictures of the plane as it came in for the landing. While I waited, the runway was crossed by kids hurrying to school, various people with bags and even livestock. It seems like the locals in Ende treat the runway as a convenient shortcut and the security staff turns a blind eye to this. A white tourist hanging around the edge of the strip was a different matter! They tried to usher me off the premises. I resisted, explaining that I wanted to take a picture of the plane, and they left me alone. Try pulling a stunt like this in any airport in Europe or the USA!
A schoolgirl crosses the runway:
The plane was delayed by almost an hour, but my patience paid off:
It was the same tail number that had brought us here:
In the picture below, the plane is turning around on the runway. The red and white booth that you can see in the foreground emitted terrible wailing noises several times. I'm still not sure why. My guess is that it was being used to warn locals to get off the runway.
The terminal building:
The flight attendant's seat folded out of a special nook. I've recently flown on an ATR operated by Northstar and it didn't have such a feature. Instead, the door forward was level with the walls.
Take-off. Mountains around Ende:
The landing was 35 minutes later. These mountains surround Labuan Bajo:
"Bandar udara" means "airport". We've arrived.
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