Review: Coastal Aviation Cessna 208

Review-Coastal Aviation Cessna 208

Coastal Aviation operates many of the flights to Serengeti safari lodges, with flights from Arusa, Dar es Salaam, Kilmanjaro, and also Kigali, Rwanda and Nairobi, Kenya. Since we flew Qatar Business Class to Zanzibar, we needed a flight from Zanzibar to Singita Serengeti, and Coastal Aviation is the only operator of this flight.

Coastal Aviation Review-Cessna 208

Coastal Aviation Cessna 208 and Seating

While Coastal Aviation does operate Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, most of its fleet consists of Cessna 208 aircraft, with solo seats on the left side of the aircraft and seats for two on the right hand side, across 3 rows, for a total of 9 passengers. Something to be aware of is that the aisle is extremely narrow (some Cessna aircraft are configured 1-1, which provides for more of an aisle).

As always, I recommend sitting as far forward as possible, for a less bumpy ride.

Review-Coastal Aviation Cessna 208 Seats

Leg room was quite decent for us, but could be an issue for those over 6 feet.

Coastal Aviation Review-Cessna 208B Seat Leg Room

See our Coastal Aviation YouTube Video Review

Check-In and Departure

The flight was to depart Zanzibar at 8am, and we were instructed to check-in no later than 30 minutes in advance. I'd heard horror stories about long check-in lines and security procedures at Zanzibar Airport, but fortunately Coastal Aviation departs from another section of the airport, and there was no wait at all to put bags through security. The waiting area, which served Coastal and some other small airlines, was quite crowded, but we managed to find a place to sit, and I was able to use my GlocalMe WiFi Hotspot to get some work done.

A few minutes before 8am our flight was announced, and to our surprise we were the only two passengers. We went out to the tarmac, where Coastal Aviation's Cessna 208 was, handed off our luggage, which was stored at the back of the plane, and boarded. We were offered bottled water, but declined since we had our own refillable water bottles.

There was a pilot and co-pilot on our flight, which is standard for Coastal Aviation flights. Our pilot happened to be a woman; I can count on one hand the number of flights I've been on with a female pilot, and it was interesting to me that one of them was this flight in Africa.

Coastal Aviation Review-Pilot and Co-Pilot

Coastal Aviation Luggage Allowance

Since Coastal Aviation operates small flights, there's a maximum luggage allowance of 33lbs (15 kg.) per person, which includes all hand baggage. Soft bags are strongly recommended, although we each had a hard sided carry-on rollaboard, and this wasn't a problem.

Coastal Aviation Flight

The flight from Zanzibar to the Serengeti is a little less than 2 hours. We enjoyed getting a bird's eye view of Zanzibar and nearby islands such as Pange Island in the initial part of the flight. It had rained earlier that morning, so a rainbow was also visible.

Coastal Aviation Review-Rainbow
Coastal Aviation Review-Zanzibar to Serengeti

Overall, for such a small plane, the flight was very smooth. I had acupressure bands with us, but we didn't need to use them. It's a bit loud, so we wore earplugs we'd brought with us.

Cumlulus clouds dotted the view about midway through our flight:

Cumulus Clouds, Coastal Aviation Flight

As we began our descent we had a good view of the Serengeti plains:

Review-Coastal Aviation to Serengeti

The Verdict

Our Coastal Aviation flight went very smoothly, departing just a few minutes after the scheduled 8am departure, and with very few bumps en route to the Serengeti. It turned out to be a private flight for the two of us, and with a pilot and co-pilot, the pilot-passenger ratio was 1:1. The flight was just under $500 per person, which may seem expensive for a ~2 hour flight. That said, given the sometimes light loads on these flights (resulting in a private flight in our case), the two pilots per flight, and the cost of fueling and maintaining the aircraft to a high standard, it's not unreasonable.

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