It’s just coming up to six in the morning and I feel like the lead villain from Zombie Apocalypse – assuming, of course, that the lead villain of such a movie would himself be a zombie. I’m bleary eyed, my tongue feels like it needs a shave and my body obviously didn’t get the memo that we’re in a different time zone. Get with the programme, brain!
I still have forty minutes to go before boarding is called for my flight to Perth, so I figure I might as well go scavenging for coffee. The Royal Silk lounge is the very exotic and elegant sounding name of the not so exotic and certainly not at all elegant Thai Airways Business Class lounge at Suvarnabhumi airport. By the time I get there, the place is crawling with likeminded travellers, all of which look as though they might be befallen with the curse of the undead. And what a cursed hovel it is, too. I mean, yuk! The seats are so worn and filthy they’re sticky…I think I’ll just grab a quick Coke Zero, and then I’m out of here.
Boarding for the flight to Perth starts at 0640. The flight is departing from gate E3. To access the lounge, I have to undergo a further check to ensure that all liquids are properly stowed in a sealable plastic bag and do not exceed 100ml. Apparently, this is a requirement imposed by the Australian government.
Our aircraft is parked on a remote stand, so we’ll be boarding via bus. My spirits temporarily revive at the prospect of getting up close and personal with the big shiny aeroplanes. But no such luck. The B 787 is simply too big. Or rather, I would have to stand further away. But the ground crew are not having any of that, because they don’t want passengers milling about on the apron – and my midnight oil is well and truly spent for me to want to argue with them.
How many different cabin layouts does Thai Airways have anyway? Their Boeing B 787-8 has a capacity of 240 seats in Economy Class and 24 seats in Business Class. The seat width in Business Class is 20 inches, the pitch is 60 inches and when extended into a bed, the seat has a length of 78 inches.
The seats are configured in a rather traditional 2 + 2 + 2 set-up. I’m guessing this is the regional Business Class configuration. After all, the flight time to Perth is only 6 hours and 15 minutes. The seat pairs on the port side of the cabin are turned slightly towards the windows. The middle row of two and the row on the starboard side are turned towards that side of the aircraft. Furthermore, the two seats on a pair are slightly staggered and there is a small separator between the seats. Even as I write this up, I’m still trying to figure out what the point is of having such a seat design and cabin layout.
In the bed positon, the seat is comfortable enough. My only complaint is that there isn’t enough space for my feet. I wear a size 46/11, which I don’t think is exceptionally big, and it’s a tight fit to find a position in which my tootsies aren’t being squashed.
CREW & SERIVCE
As on the previous flight, menus, a pillow, a blanket, the amenity kit, and ear phones have already been placed at the seat. The cabin attendant brings me a warm towel and a glass of sparkling mineral water. When she comes to take my food order, I tell her that I’m on the verge of passing out and will, therefore, not be eating.
The design of the amenity kit itself is different to the one on the previous flight. The content however, is pretty much the same.
As soon as the wheels leave the ground, I extend my seat into a bed and go off to Noddy land for a few hours. Once I awake hours later, one of the cabin crew immediately comes to ask me if I’d like to eat. Figuring it might revive the spirits, and yes I do so enjoy my food, I agree. Again, as on the previous flight, I take the Thai option which consists of
- steamed rice with steamed spinach with chili and garlic,
- a soup of chicken meatballs and tofu,
- some cold chicken salad with chili, and
- a beef green curry.
For dessert I have custard with fresh fruit and a mango and passion fruit salsa. Again, the quality of the meal is very good. The tastes are nicely balanced and there’s touch of spice in the curry.
There is only one meal service on this flight.
We arrive in Perth just after 15h, slightly ahead of schedule. The airport is not very busy and I am through immigration and customs fairly quickly.
GETTING INTO TOWN
In Perth I’m staying at the Aloft Hotel, which is easily accessible from Terminal 1 via bus line 380. The journey will take about 15 minutes and costs AUD4.70.
So what’s the final verdict? What I definitely liked about my Thai Airways experience is that you can make the journey from Europe to Perth in just 19 hours. The food on both flights was really very good and of a high quality, I thought. On the downside, I found the whole experience rather bland, quite as though they weren’t even trying to make an impression. And the lounge in Bangkok was just a dive. That place is in serious need of an overhaul!