Cambodia Angkor Air ATR 72 Siem Reap To Phnom Penh

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, Other Airlines

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Airline Reviews Art

There are a surprisingly large number of domestic carriers in Cambodia (though the majority are owned or at least subsidized by Chinese companies), and all have very tiny fleets, including:

  • Bassaka Air Limited (2 aircraft)
  • Cambodia Bayon Airlines (2 aircraft)
  • Cambodia Angkor Air (6 aircraft)
  • Cambodia Airways (3 aircraft)
  • JC International Airlines (5 aircraft)
  • Lanmei Airlines (6 aircraft)
  • Sky Angkor Airlines (4 aircraft)

Most of these carriers operate a mix of aircraft, including some Airbus A319s and A320s, so that could be a good alternative for those who don’t prefer small planes. In many cases, however, an airline only flies a given route once a day (or once every few days).

I chose Cambodia Angkor Air primarily because of timing, but they also had three flights a day to Phnom Penh, so it seemed like there would at least be a chance of recovery if there were any irregular operations.

The only one of these carriers I’d consider avoiding at present would be Cambodia Bayon Airlines, as they exclusively operate the Xian MA60, which seems to have a disproportionate rate of operational problems.

Cambodia Angkor Air (K6) 106
Siem Reap (REP) – Phnom Penh (PNH)
Frida, February 15
Depart: 10:35AM
Arrive: 11:30AM
Duration: 55min
Aircraft: ATR 72-500
Seat: 11D (Economy Class)

While Siem Reap has a large new international terminal, the domestic terminal is pocket-sized, and in the same style as the old international terminal.

The check-in area consists of seven different counters, though only one was being used.

We arrived at the airport about 80 minutes before our flight, which in a way seems excessive for a short domestic flight from a tiny terminal, but given that we (and likely most passengers on our flight) would be checking bags, we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time.

Check in took FOREVER. There were three other parties in the queue when we arrived (and one person at the counter), and no one had an excessive amount of baggage. It was over 30 minutes before we were helped, and checking our bags and getting boarding passes took about ten minutes for the four of us.

Eventually a second counter opened up, but that still seems like a very lengthy check-in process. Perhaps there was some kind of system issue that day, and we ultimately left on time with a full cabin, but it’s something to be aware of.

The security checkpoint was just to the left of where we’d entered the terminal, and was quick and efficient.

The waiting area had two retail shops (including one that only sold soap, which seems like a very specific choice), and a little cafe.

Eventually boarding was called for our flight, which consisted of a very unstructured stroll across the tarmac.

We did get to see an assortment of other Cambodian airlines on our way.

Boarding was of course done from the rear of the aircraft, and people were pretty organized about it.

Cambodia Angkor Airways uses the ATR 72-500, which is basically identical to the Lao Airlines ATR 72 we flew earlier in the trip.

The flight attendants performed a quick safety demonstration, and we departed right away.

Unlike our Lao Airlines flight, this short flight didn’t offer a snack or beverage service, though an assortment of drinks, snacks, and merchandise were advertised in the in-flight magazine.

The highlight of the flight for me was actually the in-flight magazine, which included the seasonal flight schedule for the entire fleet. I remember poring over flight schedule pamphlets when I’d fly between Utah and Hawaii as a kid, so that was a fun treat.

Otherwise, it was a fairly uneventful flight, though it did feel like it took an exceedingly long time to fly the ~150 miles. That might have just been the lack of any in-flight service to break things up though, and we arrived in Phnom Penh on schedule.

Has anyone flown any of the other domestic airlines in Cambodia? How were they?

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Comments

  1. Strange question. Our family is planning a trip to Botswana in July. My wife is claustrophobic on airlines and anything smaller than a 737 is a little bit difficult for her. I have never flown in ATR 72. What would you say about the “claustrophobia factor“ on this plane? Thank you very much

  2. 25 days between reviews.

    I liked the review and find Cambodian Airlines intriguing but what took 25 days between your review of Lao Airlines and this?

  3. @ Impatient — My last review from this series was yesterday. There was a gap, because as I explained in the review of our hotel from Laos, Ben was going to finish his Sri Lanka report first, and then life got complicated.

  4. Wow… LOVE the flight schedule! That would keep me occupied for the entire flight (as route maps do :)) In fact, looking over it now.. lol! Although the airport experience looked interesting, it has made me eager to visit Cambodia. Thank you for the review!

  5. @ Gary — It’s hard to say without knowing your wife, but the ATR 72 is definitely smaller than a 737. It’s a turboprop as well, which is a non-starter for some. It has 16 more seats than an E-175 (a plane most people report feeling more spacious than the larger 737), and fewer seats than a Q400 (which many people find incredibly small-feeling).

    It’s definitely a smaller plane, and the all-economy configuration did feel crowded, but I don’t know that it was significantly different than other planes in this category? I’m sure that’s completely unhelpful.

  6. My wife and I flew Sihanoukville-Siem Reap on Cambodia Angkor and Siem Reap-Phnom Penh on JC this last January/February. Both were fine, but I prefer Cambodia Angkor on the ATR.

  7. Hi, a bit of topic maybe, but what happened to your other contributors writing for the blog? I only see the 2 of you (also perfect) but wandered if I missed a post explaining it.
    Thanks
    Kim

  8. Bassaka Airlines has crazy old planes that smell, and I remember being served orange juice so acidic it burned my throat going down. Also some seats are broken and seem to have unlimited recline.
    JC is Chinese owned and operates brand new A320s with all Y seating. They seem to be prone to delays though, and no service was provided on this route.

  9. Off topic but also unanswered… Lucky, I love your blog – but what’s happening to the team? Just checked the about section and James – whose contributions I very much liked – seems to have been dropped unceremoniously. And as alluded to it seems like only Lucky and Tiffany are actively blogging while the larger team listed under about seems MIA?

    Would love an update…

  10. Thanks Tiffany. It is crazy, but figuring out the AR 72 is all that is stopping us from booking a two week safari in Botswana. Prop plane doesn’t bother her….it is just the “space” on the interior.

  11. @ Kim @ loveyourblog — Apologies! We’ve addressed this several times, but I know not everyone reads all the comments. James left extremely suddenly to pursue other opportunities, and other folks have been very busy with their day jobs. There will be more posts from them as we get into summer, including a series from Steph’s trip to Patagonia that we’re quite excited about.

  12. For my 2016 year-end trip I decided to do both Siem Reap (REP) and Phnom Pehn (PHN), but I did it in two separate trips, using BKK as my ‘base’, simply because I could redeem UA miles to fly from BKK to PHN and back in first class. So, I first did:

    BKK-PHN-BKK on TG, 25K UA miles each way,

    then

    BKK-REP-BKK on PG (Bangkok Airways) paying $322 total.

  13. I am sorry that this ATR 72 flight was nothing to write about. You can find ATR72 on small domestic routes through South East Asia. There are a few ATR72 flown by MASwings – a regional airline operating the Rural Air Services in East Malaysia. I did BKI-MZV-BKI recently and everything was fine…

  14. @Tiffany. We flew the same itinerary last year in January, and our experience was great. Check in was fast (took 2 min max). Plane left on time. Uneventful flight (which is what I always hope for). No claustrophobia.

  15. I recently flew Cambodia Angkor Air round trip from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). They used the A319 on the Saigon-Siem Reap leg, and I was reasonably impressed. On the return (Siem Reap to Saigon), they used a very old, not well-maintained ATR72. The seat cushion on my assigned seat was ripped all the way around the rear portion of the seat. Fortunately, the seat next to me was unassigned, so I could move; but this lack of maintenance gave me pause about flying the airline, in general.

  16. Thank you for your review; How were the views on your flight given that you might have been flying at a lower altitude?

  17. Airlines come and go in Cambodia. Quite often, airlines that plan to operate primarily in other countries start flying in Cambodia first because they need the hours to qualify for the license in other, more strict countries.

    Bassaka Air that you mentioned ceased flying last October, at least scheduled flights. They may still have charters.

    Small Planet, a Lithuanian based carrier that Cambodia Angkor Air used to hire when they didn’t have enough aircraft, tried scheduled service for a bit. Didn’t last.

    Cambodia Angkor Air is owned by Vietnam Airlines, so it’s probably going to be around a while. I’ve found their service unremarkable, but they perhaps have the worst on-time record of the domestic airlines. They also frequently cancel. I used them a lot with the Vietnam Airlines codeshare to earn LotusMiles.

    Maybe the most comfortable domestic flight I’ve had is JC International Airlines, a Chinese owned carrier. All jets, fairly new.

    Cambodia Airways is one of the newest companies to start flying, but their planes are pretty old. The paint job is so bad, you can almost make out the livery of the airline they bought them from and tried to paint over.

    The slow check-in might be because none of the ticket counter staff except for maybe the supervisor actually works for the airline. They are airport staff and check-in flights for all the airlines.

  18. I flew this exact same itinerary in 2018. Definitely one of the scarier flights of my life, although I’m sure the ATR-72 is a perfectly safe aircraft.
    It was pretty funny to see the disappointment of people in row 1 who thought they were going to be first off the airplane!

  19. I flew these guys 2 years ago to Danang, and I also thought it took a very long time for such a short distance!

  20. I’ve flown Bassaka Air, Cambodia Angkor Air, Cambodia Airways and JC International Airlines. I’ve flown them on a mix of international and domestic flights linking Macau to PP, SR and Sihanoukville. There is nothing worth mentioning about any of them.

  21. When I was in Cambodia as backpacker almost 10 years ago I was too cheap to fly from Phenom Penn to Seam Reap for $86, so I took the $6 bus for (pretty comfortable) 7 hours ride.

    Some things do get better when you get older…

  22. My understanding is there’s a separate baggage fee that is collected upon checkin, which must be paid in cash. Can you confirm please?

  23. Thanks. I bought the tickets a while ago, so not sure what fare class they are. Hopefully not basic economy.

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