Updated on 17. 8. 2017
Are you in Tbilisi or Kutaisi and you want to go to Mestia in the Svaneti region or vice versa? You don’t want to go there from Tbilisi for almost 8 hours and be squeezed in a marshrutka? This journey can be much shorter if you fly there. And it’s not expensive! Flights are operated by a small Czech-made propeller plane LET 410-UVP-E with a Ukrainian registration UR-LSA.
FROM NATAKHTARI (TBILISI)
In Natakhtari, about 23 km north of Tbilisi, there is an airport from which you can fly to Mestia. Flights are provided by Vanilla Sky and operated by Service Air. Flights take place on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Ticket prices:
Ticket price: 65 GEL
|DAY||NATAKHTARI – MESTIA||MESTIA – NATAKHTARI|
You will be taken to the Natakhtari airport by a microbus which departs from the Rose Revolution Sq. (corner of Kiacheli str. & Rose Revolution sq., the opposite side of the Bike monument), and the transport is included in the ticket price. The departure is 45 minutes before indicated flight check-in time. Transport to Tbilisi is also provided after arrival from Mestia.
Beginning March 10, 2016, there are new flights between Kutaisi and Mestia which is useful for those who arrive in Georgia with Wizzair. The departure is from the international airport (don’t get confused by that small airstrip in Kutaisi). Transport to and from the airport is not provided. You can get to the airport by marshrutkas departing from the bus station next to McDonald’s for 2 GEL. These flights take place every Monday and Friday.
Ticket price: 40 GEL
|DAY||KUTAISI – MESTIA||MESTIA – KUTAISI|
The building of the Queen Tamara airport in Mestia was built at the end of 2010, and according to this BBC article, it is among the ten most beautiful airports in the world. It is about 2.5 km far from Mestia city center so you can easily walk, take a taxi or try to hitchhike.
HOW TO BOOK THE FLIGHT?
You can book the flight at the Vanilla Sky office in Tbilisi, or online. According to their T&C, you can’t book the flight online earlier than 90 days before the flight date, but their Facebook post from 07/2016 says it’s 30 days 🤔 You can cancel the booking not later than 48 hours before the departure time stated on the ticket. Foreigners must have a passport, it’s not possible to travel just with a national ID.
If you need to ask them any question, I recommend using Facebook. They respond quite quickly.
AT THE OFFICE
The address of the office is Vaja Phshavela Ave 5, Tbilisi. Opening hours: Mon–Fri: 10:00–18:00, Sat: 10:00–13:00. Email: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org (but it seems they are very good at ignoring this email). Telephone: +995 32 2 428 428, +995 32 2 427 427, +995 599 65 90 99, or +995 599 45 25 25. I recommend you paying by card in case the flight will be canceled, so it will be easier to refund you the money.
You can buy the tickets on Vanilla Sky website. The whole booking process is not user-friendly at all – you can’t see the available dates in the calendar so you have to try a few dates until you find a free flight. You can’t also book more tickets at once and because you can’t see the number of available seats. Well, good luck. After booking, you will receive an email with the ticket. There is no info if you have to print it, so I guess you don’t have to.
WHAT IF MY FLIGHT IS CANCELED?
Flights are operated under Visual Flight Rules so unfortunately, flights to Mestia are often canceled due to the bad weather conditions in the mountains. Don’t expect they will let you know the status of the flight (they sent us an email one day before with the information that the departure will be postponed, but didn’t contact us on the day of departure that the flight is canceled). Yes, their customer service is 💩 So always have a backup plan.
In case you did booking online, or at the office and paid by card there, you will get the refund back to your card within 30 days. You can get it earlier if you contact them by email. The same applies for cancellation from your side.
If you did booking at the office and paid in cash, then I don’t know, I can only wish you good luck. Will you get the refund at the airport? Will you get it at every airport? Or do you have to go back to their office in Tbilisi? Or will they transfer it to your bank account, so you will probably pay a fee for a transaction in a foreign currency? Let me know in the comments if you know the answer.