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From Song Thaew To 747: Domestic On Thai Airways  
User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 955 posts, RR: 26
Posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 13030 times:

There are not many places in the world where you can get off a pick-up truck to board a Boeing 747 but Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second city, is one of them.
The pick-ups known as song thaew are Chiang Mai’s most ubiquitous forms of transport and they play the role of both bus and taxi in the city. Of course, regular buses and taxis, as well as tuk-tuks, also exist here – but song thaews are what locals take, and they’re also my favorite way of getting to Chiang Mai International Airport.

I am only headed for Bangkok – a short one hour flight away – and as this route is also the one I frequent the most, it’s hardly stuff that trip reports are made of. But the holiday spirit must have got the better of me. It’s Songkran – Thai new year – where everyone gets a drenching over three days of water-centered festivities and Chiang Mai is, arguably, the best place in Thailand to be. Having spent the holidays in the company of celebrating friends who’ve so wisely decided that alcohol consumed should match water doused, it’s a wonder I get to the airport at all.

But anyway I’m here.



Just to recap…this is a SONG THAEW (circa early 1990s)



And this is a BOEING 747-400 (circa early 1990s)



This is the domestic wing of Chiang Mai airport. It still has a provincial feel I rather like. However refurbishment work is being carried out to upgrade the facility into some steely glassy thing, no doubt.




Chiang Mai to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
Thai Airways International flight TG 103
Dep 1004 Arr 1113 (arrives 18 minutes late)
B747-400 HS-TGL
17 April 2008


Thai Airways domestic check-in area at Chiang Mai International Airport


Check-in. A friendly THAI agent notes my pre-selected seat – 71G – as being in the last row of the 747. Didn’t I want a seat further forward? Most people do, she says. I say no. Was I sure, she tries to reconfirm. I answer in the affirmative: yes, I want to sit at the back. She smiles and says: “I haven’t seen a TG frequent flier wanting to sit at the back before – you’re funny.” I wanted to reply: you don’t know the half of it ma’am; you should see the stranger things I do on board! But fearing it can be misconstrued, I just respond with what people in this country do best:  Smile




Chiang Mai to Bangkok is one of the key domestic trunk routes in Thailand and competition is intense. Apart from THAI, four other airlines – Nok Air (DD), One-Two-Go by Orient Thai (OG), Thai AirAsia (FD) and Bangkok Airways (PG) – fly multiple daily frequencies between the two cities. FD and PG fly into Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi; DD and OG use close-to-city Don Mueang; but only TG flies to both Bangkok airports from Chiang Mai.

As for equipment, you can’t ask for a more varied selection on a short sector:
DD uses B738 and B734;
OG uses MD82;
FD uses A320 and B733;
PG uses B717 and ATR72; and
TG uses A333, AB6, B744, B773 and B772.




This way up. You have to go up one level to departures.




With renovation happening, the common departure lounge is smaller than it should be. It’s not so bad now but this place gets very crowded in the early evenings when a couple of flights are leaving at around the same time.




I was hoping to get you some snaps of TG’s Royal Silk Lounge but that too has become a victim of the airport upgrade. (At least that’s what I think – it has disappeared since my last visit.)
The only “special” lounge is this one, but you’d have to make some pretty big sacrifices to use it.




Boarding is not any more chaotic than it usually is at Chiang Mai, but at least it’s fast. Leaving the lounge, I spot my plane – an old liveried B744 – for the first time. There’s not much else on the tarmac at this time of day.




Apart from its A340s, TG dispatches every widebody equipment type in its fleet (and there are quite a few of those) to Chiang Mai on a regular basis. Today, for instance, sees two of the six flights to Suvarnabhumi being operated by B747-400s – more typical of the winter schedule when seat demand to Chiang Mai is high but as it’s the busy Songkran period now, that’s not surprising. There are also B773s and B772s scheduled today but if your preference is for the AB6, you’re guaranteed one on the Don Mueang run.

HS-TGL fills up with holidaymakers returning to Bangkok after the three-day break.



Boarding is through Gate 6, one of five gates at the airport fitted with aerobridges. Unless you’re leaving or arriving by props, it’s extremely rare not to use one of these gates – even the notoriously aerobridge-allergic AirAsia use them.




Never mind it’s a short domestic flight, there’s always excitement associated with boarding a 747. Here’s the view from the last row in the last cabin: the new colorful TG seats are growing on me and they give this 17-year old jumbo a fresh new lease of life.




I may be seated at the center aisle, but I do have a window by my side. The curvature of the fuselage here makes this exit door look unhinged and strangely deformed.




Service aboard this short flight is classic TG with lots of wais and friendly discourse. Our flight departs and arrives a couple of minutes behind schedule, as is usual on this route. The catering on board comes in a small box containing a Danish, an overly sweetened OJ and a plastic cup for coffee. (sorry no pics here – though I know submitting an A.net TR without a meal photo is almost sacrilegious  no  ) I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it... hehe

Here’s another cabin shot from the very back of the plane.




We have landed. Exiting through the front door, I get the opportunity for a shot from the very front of the plane. This is normally TG's long haul First Class cabin but it is sold as Business Class on domestic flights. (As an aside, you can travel in this cabin by paying just 2860 baht [US$90] for a one-way J Class ticket.)




THAI cabin crews do not change into their graceful Thai silk costumes on domestic flights, but they still look quite smart in their “ground” uniforms. This is taken in the Business Class cabin.



I am the last passenger to exit at Suvarnabhumi.






Turns out we have parked at an international gate; HS-TGL is set to do a nonstop to Europe this afternoon. That means, we disembark via aerobridge at gate C1 but then down the stairs to the buses that will shuttle us to domestic arrivals.






Next door, gate C3 is one of those making Suvarnabhumi an A380-ready airport.




Thanks for reading!



8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMk777 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 1195 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 12912 times:

Its nice to see B744 operating a 1 hr domestic flight...i wouldn't mind it either.

Seems TG is quite good for a short hop. I always like the public transportation system in some countries across the world, it makes the stay more lively.

Nice report...thanks for sharing...



come fly with me
User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 12773 times:

Yup, the sacrifices one has to make in order to enter that special lounge is huge - especially if wine and whatever else makes you happy is a big part of your life... haha... that was a good one nonetheless.

I'm curious though, what software did you use to edit the colors in your photos?! Is it my color-blindness or do your non-outdoor pictures look a little 'pastel/pasty-colored'?? They still look great by the way

TG's snackboxes are nothing to shout about... nothing compared to the beautifully designed MH "eat it now or take it home to share with a friend" snackbox!

Very entertaining albeit short TR.

[Edited 2008-04-24 09:21:05]


There's always a better way to fly...
User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8578 posts, RR: 54
Reply 3, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 12619 times:
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Nice report, thanks.

Nice to see a domestic flight TR with big equipment, sure makes a change form the 737's & A32X flight.

Regards

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineBNEFlyer From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 228 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 12324 times:
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Hi Airpearl

Great trip report. I love TG and Thailand, this has just made me want to go back even more... luckily I only have to wait until September!

I have never been to Chiang Mai before though but i've heard its beautiful, definitely somewhere i'd like to explore.

Last May when I was in Thailand I flew BKK-HKT-BKK on a 744 in F (upgraded from J), was amazing! I'll probably never get the chance to fly in the pointy end on a longer flight so its great that TG offers such reasonable fares on their domestic runs.

I had a newly refurbished bird on each leg too, so got to experience the F 'mini suite' (thats what i'd call it anyway) and I think the HKT-BKK leg was even on Theparat!

Glad you had a good flight and a very happy and wet Songkran!


User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 955 posts, RR: 26
Reply 5, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 11952 times:

Thanks for the comments guys. Sorry for the rather quick TR and poor pics this time round - just wanted to document an unexceptional flight I get on quite often  Wink

Quoting Mk777 (Reply 1):
Seems TG is quite good for a short hop

Among TG's strengths - they do very well in Y class. One of my favorites. Just a few years ago, they used to serve a hot meal between BKK and CNX.

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 2):
whatever else makes you happy is a big part of your life

Indeed... hehehe

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 2):
I'm curious though, what software did you use to edit the colors in your photos?! Is it my color-blindness or do your non-outdoor pictures look a little 'pastel/pasty-colored'?? They still look great by the way

Just adobe photoshop...oops yes they are a little matt aren't they? I didn't even look properly.

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 2):
TG's snackboxes are nothing to shout about... nothing compared to the beautifully designed MH "eat it now or take it home to share with a friend" snackbox!

MH should do what TG does - and provide carrier bags for those who want to "take home" their meal.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 3):
Nice to see a domestic flight TR with big equipment

Makes the routine slightly less so, doesn't it?

Quoting BNEFlyer (Reply 4):
I have never been to Chiang Mai before though but i've heard its beautiful, definitely somewhere i'd like to explore.

Chiang Mai has the relaxed feel that Bangkok does not. It's not a small place by any means but the city still feels personable and livable. September may be a bit wet though... year end is the best time to visit when the weather is cool and days almost always sunny.

Quoting BNEFlyer (Reply 4):
Last May when I was in Thailand I flew BKK-HKT-BKK on a 744 in F (upgraded from J), was amazing! I'll probably never get the chance to fly in the pointy end on a longer flight so its great that TG offers such reasonable fares on their domestic runs.

I had a newly refurbished bird on each leg too, so got to experience the F 'mini suite' (thats what i'd call it anyway) and I think the HKT-BKK leg was even on Theparat!

Isn't it great? I'm always on the look out for such bargains and think it's one of the best deal around to fly in "F" of a 744, no less! I have upgraded to J between BKK and CNX a few times, but only when I know a 744 is operating.


User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4757 posts, RR: 25
Reply 6, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 11908 times:

Airpearl,

When I saw your name, I immediately knew I was in for a good read no matter how short or long. It has been YONKS since I went to Chiang Mai and yuor pictures of the airport just shows how much it has changed over the years. If you thought it looks provincial now, can you imagine how it was when I was there in the late 80s?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The pick-ups known as song thaew are Chiang Mai’s most ubiquitous forms of transport and they play the role of both bus and taxi in the city.

Song (two) thaew (bench) is essentially what these pick up trucks are called. That is because they have two benches behind!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Here’s the view from the last row in the last cabin: the new colorful TG seats are growing on me and they give this 17-year old jumbo a fresh new lease of life.

It reminds me of a layout of Thai desserts and cakes. So sweet...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
THAI cabin crews do not change into their graceful Thai silk costumes on domestic flights, but they still look quite smart in their “ground” uniforms. This is taken in the Business Class cabin.

Ah... no quite so. They also do not change into the graceful "kebayas" on flights to Hanoi, Saigon, Hat Yai-SIN vv, HKT-SIN vv, CGK-SIN vv (no more) etc... I think the line they draw is for flights around 90mins or less, they remain in their "ground" uniform.



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User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 955 posts, RR: 26
Reply 7, posted (6 years 7 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 11612 times:



Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 6):
It has been YONKS since I went to Chiang Mai and yuor pictures of the airport just shows how much it has changed over the years

Yeah I'm sure it has... the international wing even has glass aerobridges. Looks like it's about to change again.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 6):
It reminds me of a layout of Thai desserts and cakes. So sweet...

Mmm... aroy maak maak!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 6):
They also do not change into the graceful "kebayas" on flights to Hanoi, Saigon, Hat Yai-SIN vv, HKT-SIN vv, CGK-SIN vv (no more) etc... I think the line they draw is for flights around 90mins or less, they remain in their "ground" uniform.

Indeed. I always thought it was quite an acrobatic act trying to change out of those tight dresses in the confines of a plane washroom as it descends towards BKK. Anyway I should have taken pics on the flight up to CNX, everyone was dressed in colorful Songkran style.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
was hoping to get you some snaps of TG’s Royal Silk Lounge but that too has become a victim of the airport upgrade. (At least that’s what I think – it has disappeared since my last visit.)

I "found" the lounge when I went thru CNX again yesterday, it's hidden in a corner outside the secure area.


User currently offlineRonerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1675 posts, RR: 53
Reply 8, posted (6 years 7 months 1 hour ago) and read 11170 times:

Mr. Airpearl,

As what we have come to expect from you...simply fantastic  Smile

Just like all TG reports, this was no different, full of glamour and color.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
She smiles and says: “I haven’t seen a TG frequent flier wanting to sit at the back before – you’re funny.” I wanted to reply: you don’t know the half of it ma’am; you should see the stranger things I do on board! But fearing it can be misconstrued, I just respond with what people in this country do best:

LOL ... no worries, all us a.nutters totally understand  Smile

Thanks a lot for sharing my friend! ..

Regards,
Roni



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