Affordable Travel Guide to Flights to Kathmandu

Winging Your Way to Everest and the Himalayas

Flights to Kathmandu

The minute the exotic name of Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, is spoken or written, people immediately think of the challenge of climbing Mount Everest, the tallest peak on the planet. But Kathmandu is more than a gathering place for climbers and a supply station. It is the centre for business in Nepal, and a hub that links places in southern China and northern India. Kathmandu is the only major international air destination in Nepal, but there are two principal domestic airlines that provide flights from the smaller Nepalese cities of Pokhara and Biratnagar on a daily basis.

Weather Issues in the Himalayas

Weather is often a factor in flights to Kathmandu; the summer temperatures range from 29-34°C (84-93°F), but in winter there is always a risk of heavy snow and high winds, even though the temperature can go as high as 10°C (50°F). The best flights to Kathmandu come with an immediate refund guarantee if a flight is canceled due to weather issues. Be aware that Nepal is a Buddhist country and most flights, especially domestic ones, do not serve alcohol.

Sight-seeing Flights

Both of the domestic air carriers, Yeti Airlines and Buddha Air, offer sightseeing flights over Kathmandu for those too old, too weak or just too chicken to see Everest by climbing it! The flights take off from Kathmandu and fly to within five nautical miles of the peak, weather permitting. They run between 45 and 60 minutes, return, under normal circumstances. The majority of scheduled flights to Kathmandu originate in New Delhi, India, or in Pokhara and Biratnagar, Nepal.

Airlines Serving Kathmandu

Five main airlines provide scheduled flights to Kathmandu. Here are the details on those airlines and by what routes they fly to Kathmandu throughout the year:

  • Yeti Airlines bills itself as Nepal’s premier airline, and they have been in the air for nearly 15 years. Yeti Airlines versus Nepal’s other domestic carrier, Buddha Airlines, is part of a local competition; Yeti seems to be preferred by western tourists (maybe it’s the name; people would rather fly on something named after a mythical beast than a mythical god). It’s fleet of seven turbo-prop British Aerospace Jetstream 41 planes are efficient and comfortable. Their Everest Express service is also accomplished in these reliable aircraft. Flights to Kathmandu from Pokhara and Biratnagar are available several times daily.
  • Buddha Air, perhaps a dubiously suggestive name to British and American travelers, is based in the smaller Nepalese town of Jawalakhel Lalitpur, very close to the main city of Kathmandu. It offers daily flights to Kathmandu, and other destinations within Nepal, as well as Everest sightseeing junkets. The flying times are short; for example, Pokhara to Kathmandu is under half an hour, and Biratnagar to the capital is less than 45 minutes, so the airline specializes in short-haul flights. The fleet is “dry” (no alcohol, only soft drinks, are served in the cabin).
  • Air India, based in New Delhi, India, is more of a feeder airline to the domestic ones that service Kathmandu, but it does fly direct into Kathmandu’s international airport. Air India is one of the main airlines used by visitors to Kathmandu coming in from faraway places such as Chicago, New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Toronto, Frankfurt and Sydney.
  • Jet Airways operates mostly in the vicinity of India and Southeast Asia, and it claims to have the cheapest airline tickets to Kathmandu. Flights from outside the immediate region depart from Krakow, Poland, Aberdeen, Scotland, and Sydney, Australia, with flights to Kathmandu. Check their prices versus the competition to see if currently published fares are indeed the cheapest. And remember, you tend to get what you pay for outside of North America with cheap airline tickets, not always a comforting thought in far-flung exotic lands.
  • Spice Jet is a broadly regional airline that offers flights to Kathmandu from locales such as Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Kabul, Afghanistan (perhaps not the safest point of departure in the world). It also flies to Kathmandu from Colombo, Sri Lanka, and dozens of cities, large and small, throughout India.

Flying to Kathmandu

Flights to Kathmandu are plentiful, regular and vary wildly in price depending on the origin of departure. Local flights are quick and not too expensive, but it may be best to break up a trip that takes so long in flying time from places like Europe and North America. If you want a real Nepalese experience, fly a major airline, such as Air India, to New Delhi, spend a day or two exploring, and then pick up a flight to Kathmandu on one of its domestic carriers. If you believe that the beauty of travel is part the journey and part the destination, then Yeti Airlines or Buddha Air is a cultural experience you won’t want to miss.

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