Thai Airways, Business Class – Boeing B 787-8: Bangkok to Perth

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INTRODUCTION
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
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.

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CABIN
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.

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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.

AMENITIES
The design of the amenity kit itself is different to the one on the previous flight. The content however, is pretty much the same.

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THE MEAL
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.

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There is only one meal service on this flight.

ARRIVAL
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.

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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.

CONCLUSION
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!

Thai Airways, Business Class – Airbus A 350-900: Milan Malpensa to Bangkok

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INTRODUCTION
Today I am travelling from Milan’s Malpensa airport to Bangkok. The flight is operated by an Airbus A 350-900. I must say, I’m quite taken by the A 350 – it’s width gives it a very spacious feel and it just comes across as being a lot more solid, or less flimsy, than the Boeing 787, which I always find has the look and feel of a narrow-body.

CHECK-IN
I check out of the Sheraton at around 09h45 and make my way to Terminal 1. Thai Airways checks in on row 16, which they share with Qatar Airways. Check-in opens three hours prior to departure. There are two Business Class counters, both of which have thick and rather grubby looking carpets laid out before them.

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Both counters are attending to passengers when I arrive, but I figure it won’t be long before it’s my turn. Or maybe not. The lady working the check-in counter on the left is obviously related to Little Miss Chatterbox. Oh hell…’veramente, senza occhiali…niente…bla bla bla…ieri sera, nel treno aveva ritardo…bla bla bla…’.

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Eventually, the lady on the other counter takes pity on me and figures I probably do actually want to take the flight, considering that I’ve bothered to make the schlep out to the airport this morning. So she issues my boarding passes to Bangkok and my final destination, tags my hand luggage and sends me on my way.

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Oh yeah, in case you’re wondering – no online check-in is available for Thai Airways ex Milan.

AIRSIDE/LOUNGE
There is a dedicated fast track for First and Business Class passengers. But the lines for passport control can get rather long when the airport is busy.

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Thai Airways uses the Pergolesi lounge in Malpensa, which is a contractor lounge operated by the Milan airport authority if I’m not mistaken. The lounge is located behind passport control. To be honest, it’s really not much to write home about, so you may want to skip this one. First of all, and I know others may have different priorities for a lounge, there are no windows – it’s basically just one big, gloomy room. The food and drinks selection is limited to things like fruit salad, sandwiches, focaccia and cake.

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Wifi is complimentary, but be warned that electricity plugs are in short supply in the lounge.

BOARDING
Boarding starts at 12h35, thirty minutes before departure. First, passengers with children are invited on board, followed by Business Class passengers. The airbridge is attached to the L2 door, which means that Business Class passengers turn left as they step aboard, while Economy Class passengers take a right.

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CABIN
The Business Class cabin is located between the L1 and L2 doors. I’m seated on 14B, which is an aisle seat on the port side.

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Thai Airways operates the A 350 in a two-class configuration with 289 seats in Economy Class and 32 seats in Business Class. The seat is fully lie-flat and horizontal; it has a width of 20 inches and a pitch of 44 inches in the seated position. In the lying position, the seat has a length of 73.5 inches.

The Business Class cabin is laid out in a 1 + 2 + 1 configuration, so that every passenger has direct access to the aisle.

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When I made the booking for this trip, only aisle seats were available – which are the B and J seats on even numbered rows and the D and G seats on uneven numbered rows. Before the flight, I was concerned that I might feel a bit exposed, especially with the seat extended into a bed. But turned out not to be an issue. First of all, the seats are staggered, with the seat on the other side of the aisle slightly further back to give you a bit more privacy. Secondly, the shell of the seat curves around the side of the seat, so that when you extend the seat into a bed, you’re partly shielded from the aisle.

CREW & SERIVCE
A pillow, a blanket, a thin mattress, the amenity kit, earphones and the menus are already at my seat when I arrive. Soon after, I am brought a lightly scented hot towel and my choice of drink.

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AMENITIES
The amenity kit is by FURLA and comes with the usual complement of items for which I have no use, except perhaps for the ear plugs and eye shades. In addition, and I think Thai Airways deserve some serious brownie points for this, they also provide slippers in Business Class.

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THE MEAL
The meal service begins with a drinks round. I have a Coke Zero, which is served with a bowl of mixed nuts.

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Thai Airways offers Western and Thai menus. For both menus there are two options for the main dish. Although strangely enough though, there are no vegetarian options. I decide to go with the Thai menu.

The first course is smoked salmon in a yuzu ponsu dressing, with avocado and crème fraîche. The starter is identical for both menus and is really very tasty, with the avocado blending nicely with the salty smoked salmon.

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The main course consists of a range of dishes:

  • a green pork curry
  • steamed rice with pak choi
  • a clear soup with shitake mushrooms and a cucumber filled with minced pork
  • a small bowl with a spicy chili sauce

These dishes are also very good. The curry is flavourful and spicy and actually tastes like authentic Thai food.

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After the hot meal comes the cheese course, which is served with grapes, dried fruit and crackers.

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And then finally, for dessert, I have the taro in coconut milk, which is just weird and rather bland.

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A few hours after the first meal service, I start to feel peckish again. So I order the noodle soup from the menu. Now this dish has some serious umpf – God it’s spicy! The noodles are served with boiled egg, crispy onion flakes and bits of minced pork.

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SECOND SERVICE
The second service starts just over two hours out of Bangkok. A flight attendant brings me a hot towel and takes my order for a coffee and orange juice.

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Shortly after, the tray is delivered. I’m quite surprised by how extensive this second service is. The tray contains

  • a bowl of fruit,
  • a yoghurt with müsli,
  • a bowl with bread and pastries and
  • the hot meal – which consists of a large portion of scrambled eggs, a pork sausage, bacon and cherry tomatoes.

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ARRIVAL
We land at 05h10 local time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bangkok airport looking so deserted and quiet. Eventually, our aircraft comes to a standstill on a remote stand. But unfortunately it’s still too dark for me to be able to take any decent pictures.

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The bus spits us out at international arrivals, which is located more or less in the middle of the D concourse. From here I head two floors up to security and then from there to the Thai Airways Business Class lounge. I now have slightly more than one hour to make my connection. The transfer in Bangkok is fairly painless, but it’s not very well signposted.

VERDICT
Thai Airways provided a solid product on this flight. The seat was comfortable, the crew were friendly and attentive and the food was actually very good. All in all though, I don’t think that my flight in Thai Airways Business Class on this flight was anything outstanding. I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly with them again but I certainly wouldn’t avoid them either. I just don’t think they can keep up with the likes of Cathay Pacific or Qatar Airways, both of which, in my view, clearly have a superior product in terms of hardware and software.

Thai Airways, Business Class – B 777-300: Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur

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Airline: Thai Airways
Aircraft:
Boeing B 777-300
Cabin:
Business Class
Seat:
12G, aisle
From:
Bangkok
To:
Kuala Lumpur
Date:
24. August 2013
Departure:
16:40
Arrival:
19:50

BSLKUL

TRANSFER IN BANGKOK

The transfer in Bangkok is a swift and efficient affair. The Thai Airways First Class pick up ejects me by the escalators leading one floor up to the security checkpoint and the transit area.

THE LOUNGE

From security I am escorted to the Thai Airways First Class lounge, where I receive a refreshing towel and a welcome drink. My stay here will not be long, so I just order a lemon ice tea and check my mails before it’s time to leave again. The lounge is very quiet at this time of day.

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BOARDING

About twenty minutes before departure, one of the lounge attendants comes to inform me that my flight will be departing shortly and I should make my way to gate C5. I am one of the last Business Class passengers to board. Unfortunately I only manage to take one picture of the aircraft taking me to Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

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THE CABIN

The aircraft operating today’s flight is an ex Jet Airways bird in the herringbone configuration in Business Class. I always thought that this would be the same seat as what Air Canada and Cathay Pacific used to have. To be honest I’m still not quite sure if it is or not. Somehow this seat feels a lot more spacious, more roomy. It also strikes me that you’re a lot more exposed in this configuration and you have the passenger on the aisle seat in full view – and vice versa.

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Regrettably, Thai Airways has not been a very careful surrogate to this plane. There are traces of neglect and damage throughout the cabin. During the take-off roll my IFE screen – which apparently should be locked for take-off and landing – comes undone from the acceleration and won’t close anymore. I have to hold on to it to stop it from swinging about. Judging by all the clicking noises in the cabin, I am not the only one with this problem.

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SERVICE

Service is efficient. On the ground we receive, in sequence, a welcome drink, hot towel and the menu.

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THE MEAL

The meal is served on a tray from a trolley. The first and main course arrive at the same time, which is hardly surprising given the flight is only 90 minutes. For a starter we have crab meat in a smoked salmon parcel, which is quite good. There are three choices for the main. I go with the shrimps and scallops with pomme duchesse and vegetables. And for dessert there is some toffee and banana cake on a biscuit base, which is okay.

Drinks are not served from a trolley. Instead, the crew come round with a tray of different drinks for passengers. Other drinks are however available on demand.

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ARRIVAL

As we begin our descent, the crew pass through the cabin distributing priority lane cards for immigration. We arrive at the satellite, from where it is just a short trip by shuttle to the main building. I have arrived back in Kuala Lumpur.

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Thai Airways, First Class – A 380: Hong Kong to Bangkok

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Airline: Thai Airways
Aircraft:
Airbus A 380
Cabin:
First Class
Seat:
3K, window
From:
Hong Kong
To:
Bangkok
Date:
24. August 2013
Departure:
13:25
Arrival:
15:05

BSLBKK

It’s only at this stage that things got really out of hand when I was planning this trip. I’d got my dates all messed up and realised rather late that instead of spending one night in Hong Kong before eventually heading home, I’d be spending two full days in Hong Kong. Of course the easiest thing would have been to simply rearrange the rest of my schedule. Like that I might have had a full day in Perth for example, which I really liked the look of – from what little I saw.

Or I could do something else that would be tremendously fun. I could significantly increase my carbon footprint with yet another bout of senseless flying, simply for the joy of cruising at 38’000 feet.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

At 11:00 I check out of The Peninsula. It’s such a beautiful hotel. Even the lobby is a work of art.

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And this here will be taking me to the airport today. Sitting in the back, the sound of the engine is but a mere murmur, like the satisfied purr of a fat cat that’s just polished off a bowl of rich cream. It’s quite sexy actually.

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The journey by car from Tsim Sha Tsui on the southern tip of Kowloon to the airport takes approximately thirty minutes to complete. We pull up in front of terminal 2, where a porter from the hotel is already expecting me to take my luggage and escort me to the Thai Airways check-in counters.

CHECK-IN

Thai Airways has got quite an operation here in Hong Kong. Check-in is quickly done for the flight to Bangkok as well as the onward connection. I am also issued a lounge invitation.

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Before I leave, I inquire about the possibility of paying to upgrade to First Class. The check-in agent informs me that all seats are already taken, but one passenger has failed to turn up so far. She instructs me to contact the lounge attendant about thirty minutes before departure to check on the situation of the seat.

THE LOUNGE

From check-in I am escorted to the entrance for the security check. The porter bids me farewell and hopes I enjoyed my stay at The Peninsula. Oh you have no idea!

Terminal 2 is essentially a separate building with a set of check-in counters on the opposite side of the road from the main terminal building. Behind security and immigration there is an escalator leading down to the automated shuttle that takes you across to the gate area attached to terminal 1.

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From there I change trains and take the shuttle to the far end of the pier where gates 33 through 80 are located. The Thai Airways lounge is one floor up from the gates, overlooking gate 40. My flight today will be leaving from gate 62.

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The lounge is very colourful, with a good selection of hot and cold dishes.

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The big bird arrives.

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About thirty minutes before departure I approach the lounge reception where I am informed that the upgrade worked – jay! The flight has been closed for check-in with one empty seat up front. I am advised to go to the gate and pay the fare difference there, where I will also be issued a new boarding pass. The fare difference is merely HKD1600.

BOARDING

So I contact one of about ten gate attendants for my flight to pay the fee. The new boarding pass is promptly issued and I shall be on 3K for this flight, a window seat.

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There are three separate queues for boarding. The left one is for Economy on the lower level of the vessel, the middle one is for First Class and the right one for Business Class, both of which are located on the upper deck.

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THE CABIN

The cabin is very nice. Using a combination of wood and beige colours, there is something very soothing and inviting about the seat. There are two comfy pillows on my seat, as well as a day blanket for this short flight. There is also a folder with A 380 and Thai Airways stationary.

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SERVICE

We begin with the obligatory hot towels. If I’m not mistaken, they’re scented with Bulgari’s Essence de Thé Vert, which has a very refreshing and subtle perfume.

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Next, another flight attendant comes through the cabin with the Dom. I think he’s a bit upset when I ask him if I could have a Perrier instead. A bit later on, the same attendant brings me the menu and the wine list for today’s flight.

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DEPARTURE

Just before we push back, another big bird arrives at the gate next door.

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Take-off is sluggish, to say the least. You’d think we were flying all the way from Hong Kong to Europe, judging by how long it takes us to get airborne. Once we do take off, we hit some rather severe turbulence. It’s quite impressive really. To see or rather feel a little 737 doing all sorts of summersaults in the sky is one thing, but when it’s an A 380 it’s quite another. Fortunately before long we’re clear of the clouds and cruising through much calmer air.

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It’s quite funny to watch the other passengers. One guy has already lowered the blinds and another has changed into something a little less al dente. I’m not quite sure what’s going on exactly, the flight time to Bangkok is only two hours and ten minutes anyway.

Once the fasten seat belt sign goes off, I decide to explore the loo and the lounge area on the top floor.

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The loo is very stylish, I must say. It has a changing area which kind of sectioned off from the toilet.

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THE MEAL

We begin with an amuse bouche of smoked salmon on cucumber and grilled vegetables. To drink I have a Singha beer.

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Then the table is set for the meal. The crew pay a lot of attention to detail. For example they make sure that the logo of the tablecloth is the right side up. And whenever one of them fills up my glass, they make sure the logo on the can of beer is facing toward me.

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There is also a breadbasket. Initially I think I may have been spared the temptation to overindulge on garlic bread. But it turns out that they bring that separately. In the end I think I have seven pieces of the stuff. I can’t help it, it’s a compulsion…

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The first course is boiled Canadian scallops with capers mixed with almonds, sundried tomatoes and frisée lettuce and cucumber. A very tasty dish.

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Next comes the main course: pan-fried sea bream filet with a garlic sauce, served with vegetables and herb millet. It’s a nice chunky piece of fish, although it is perhaps a little on the dry side.

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Then comes a plate of anonymous cheeses with crackers and fruit – it doesn’t say on the menu what cheese it is.

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And finally for dessert we have Mövenpick yoghurt ice cream with diced fresh fruit.

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The meal concludes with a coffee and another scented hot towel. By this time we’re only 34 minutes out of Bangkok. Not bad at all.

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ARRIVAL

The weather in Bangkok is pretty much the same as in Hong Kong: overcast, occasional rain and a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius. Before the take their seats for arrival, the three cabin crew working the First Class cabin stop at every seat to say good bye, which is a nice touch.

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As I exit the airbridge I am already being expected by a Thai Airways representative with a golf mobile. We wait for another passengers and then off we go to the security check for my next flight.

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Thai Airways, First Class – A 340-600: Bangkok > Milan Malpensa

Let me explain. I’m on my way back from my vacation in Southeast Asia. The original plan would have seen me returning from Bangkok to Zürich in Thai Airways First Class and then immediately carrying on with KLM via Amsterdam to Helsinki for a meeting. But then it all goes horribly wrong…read on!

Date: 13. September 2012
Airline: Thai Airways
Aircraft: A 340-600
From: Bangkok
To: Milan Malpensa
Cabin: First Class
Seat: 2K

CHECK-IN

I spend my last day in Asia exploring the sights of Bangkok, and I think I manage to do most of them.  I check out of the Novotel Suvarnabhumi at eight o’clock in the evening, once I’ve finished packing and had a shower. I then make my way through the deserted underground passageway linking the hotel to the railway station and the terminal beyond.

I arrive at the Thai Airways First Class check-in area on row A just after 20h00.

First I am ushered to a sofa and brought a drink and a refreshing towel.

The friendly Thai Airways check-in agent apologises profusely as she informs me that the flight to Zürich has gone tech and instead of departing at 00h30, it is now scheduled for a departure at 07h30 in the morning, arriving in Zürich after 14h00 of the same day. So instead, she suggests I fly on the Thai Airways flight to Milan and then take a Swiss flight to Zürich from there, which would arrive at 11:00. I explain that I have a flight to Amsterdam with KLM at 09h50 on a separate ticket and need to be in Helsinki by the evening. So that won’t work.

In a bid to find a solution she first suggests I take the Thai Airways flight to Arlanda and then from there a Finnair flight to Helsinki. However the idea is quickly discarded because that would mean downgrading me to Business Class. On the Arlanda route Thai Airways operates a B747-400 with the old First Class seat, which is sold as Business Class. I don’t fancy that. So eventually we settle on a routing that will take me with Thai Airways from Bangkok to Milan in First Class after all, and then from there with Finnair to Helsinki in Business Class. Thai Airways generously also offer to endorse the KLM ticket, despite the fact that it’s not really their problem. For me this means that I will still be able to use the return portion from Helsinki to Basel via Amsterdam. I ask the check-in agent if this will work, they can’t just take another airline’s ticket and use part of it as they like. But she assures me that it will be fine. They will cancel the outbound from Zürich via Amsterdam to Helsinki and I keep the return for the following day.

I’m quite happy with the arrangement and as an aviation fan I normally welcome such irregularities. Although in this case it’s quite a pity because I was hoping to clock another flight with the B737-900 from Amsterdam to Helsinki. Some other time maybe. The check-in agent brings me a bottle of water and asks me for some more patience while she makes all the necessary arrangements.

40 minutes later, with my boarding pass for the Milan flight and a Flight Interruption Manifest for Helsinki in hand, I’m good to go.

THE LOUNGE

From check-in there is a direct access to a dedicated security lane and behind that is immigration for First Class passengers. The check-in agent escorts me through to the other side. It’s a swift process and even the immigration officer is all smiles and charm, even cracking a joke at seeing my ‘exotic’ passport. Blimey!

Behind immigration there is an escalator heading downstairs, straight into the Royal Silk Business Class lounge. At the bottom of the stairs another Thai agent is already expecting me with the funkiest buggy I’ve ever seen. The check-in agent bids me goodbye. I get on board my chariot and am whisked away to the entrance of the Royal First Class lounge.

Inside the lounge I am given yet another tremendously cold refreshing towel and a glass of some fruit juice. I also order a glass of sparkling water with a slice of lime.

My head has been bothering me all day, I think it must have been the uncomfortable seats on the river taxi, so I decide to head over to the Thai Spa and see if a massage might be able to do something about it. I am escorted to the Spa and handed over to my masseuse. First she gives me another refreshing towel (I’ve stopped counting…) and a glass of cold ginger tea. We discuss what I need taken care of and then head to the quiet area and the massage seats. The woman is a genius and over that ensuing forty minutes she works magic on my neck and shoulders. It feels like I’m being butchered but by the time she finishes me off I return to the First Class lounge feeling quite elated. And soon after it’s time to head to gate A3 for boarding.

BOARDING

Boarding starts just a few minutes after I arrive at the gate. First Class and premium passengers are invited to board first through the L1 door. I am the second passenger to arrive in the First Class cabin.

The vanity kit, a selection of newspapers, the earphones and an orchid are already at me seat. In short succession I am also given yet another refreshing towel, this time a warm one, a glass of water and my pjs.

THE CABIN

The cabin and seat look nice and well maintained. In fact the seat looks nearly new. There are two cushions on every seat, as well as a blanket.

During the flight I visit the toilet and it is very clean and well stocked with products from Bulgari’s Essence de Thé Blanc and Essence de Thé Vert. All the refreshing towels are scented with the latter.

DEPARTURE

We depart slightly behind schedule due to the heavy traffic out of Bangkok tonight. Horus, we meet again!

Once we get airborne, we are treated to an excellent view of the urban sprawl that is Bangkok.

SERVICE

Service on this flight is efficient and friendly. The First Class cabin is served by the male purser, a very charming and funny middle-aged lady and a younger but equally friendly gentleman. All the female crew are wearing these beautiful traditional Thai costumes made of silk.

The purser introduces himself and wishes me a pleasant flight. He tells I’m in good hands with his colleagues and if there is anything I need, all of them will be more than glad to help.

THE MEAL

There are no nibbles or canapés with the drinks before departure.

Once we take off the crew obviously want to make sure passengers manage to get as much rest as possible and so they get started with the service straight away. First the table is set for the meal. Every passenger has his own breadbasket. There is garlic bread too, I love garlic bread! Later on once I’ve demolished the bread basket a new one arrives.

First we have the caviar service. This is really tasty. Once I finished I am offered a second helping but I figure that would be too much of an indulgence.

The caviar is followed by a tasty minestrone with two side dishes of smoked salmon and a puff pastry filled with paté.

For the main course I have the salmon with linguine, basil sauce and Mediterranean vegetables.

And for dessert some fresh fruit.

After the meal I go and change while the flight attendant makes up my bed.

A NEW DAY

It’s seven hours later. I managed to have a really good sleep on the very comfy seat/bed.

I’ve overdosed on the garlic bread. I completely forgot I’ll be meeting with a business partner later on today. I head for the loo to brush me teeth. I even try scrubbing my tongue with copious amounts of high quality Colgate toothpaste. But it’s of no avail, now I can only hope the immigration officer will not have me arrested for threatening the life of an official of the Italian police with my lethal garlic breath. That was potent stuff on that bread.

Shortly after I take my seat again it’s time for breakfast. We start with another refreshing hot towel. After that the table is set again for breakfast. I check to make sure, yes there is no more garlic bread this time round.

We start with fruit salad, and very delicious it is.

Next come the Cornflakes with some milk and a bit of sugar.

And then comes the hot meal: Spanish omelette with grilled tomato, hash brown, sausage and bacon. I follow the purser’s suggestion and have some chilli sauce with that. And very tasty it is too.

During the breakfast service my coffee cup is replenished regularly.

The meal ends with one last hot towel.

ARRIVAL

In the meantime it has been gradually becoming light outside. I look out to see the sun slowly rising over the Alps. You can tell it’s the end of summer because there is barely any snow left, even on the peaks.

We come in over the flatlands of the river Po. I must say, it’s been a nice holiday but I am still glad to be back to more familiar climes and sights.

The purser and the other two attendants working the First Class cabin pass from seat to seat to bid each passenger farewell individually and to thank them for flying Thai.

We bank left to point in a southern direction on the downwind for arrival. We pass the airport and then start doing a series of gentle right hand banks until eventually we are lined up with the runway. Just before touchdown I see an Air One A320 accelerating and an Easyjet bird waiting to line up behind it on the parallel runway to ours.  And then we’re down.

We taxi in behind a Delta B767-400 but I forget to check where it’s coming from.

The L2 door opens and all the passengers in Business Class are instructed to wait while the First Class passengers disembark. As we do, each passenger is given another orchid as a farewell gift.

Outside there is a representative from the handling agent expecting me. She welcomes me to Milan and then escorts me through the airport, through security and immigration until we are eventually in the A concourse. She takes me up to the contractor lounge Finnair uses and briefs the receptionist about the irregularity. The receptionist will contact Finnair about two hours before departure to check me in, I can then collect my boarding pass directly at the gate as I board.

With that done she apologises once more on behalf of Thai Airways for the inconvenience and bids me a safe onward journey and a good day.

CONCLUSION

Where do I begin? First of all there is that Thai Airways lady at the front line, the person who deals with my case. She really tried her best, she had a very ‘can-do’ approach to finding a viable solution to my problem. But it’s not just her, the whole operation – at least from what I can tell as a passenger – is very polished, right down to the way I am taken care of upon arrival in Milan.

TO BE CONTINUED…