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Flying On Borrowed Time: Thai A340-500  
User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 29384 times:




saturday

Optimists have gone on an extended break. The weather’s turned monsoonal. Pre-dawn thunderstorms at the weekend are designed for sleeping in but I am awake today, locking the front door behind me, and acknowledging a cheerful greeting from Mr. Wong, my favorite taxi driver, as he guesses correctly: Going to Bangkok again? I must be getting predictable.

Flying the two hour hop between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok has become something of a routine this year. Only nothing is routine in these tumultuous days. Like the worsening weather, a large depression has descended on, well, everything. At work, a recent email from someone I don’t know warns of looming layoffs; in the midst of the financial crisis, at least you’ve still got a job, the memo reads - not too subtly - between the lines. And as I write, Southeast Asia’s busiest airport is still reeling from a week in lockdown mode. Gloom and uncertainty are omnipresent. I’m in need of cheering up.

But, maybe, melancholy could be the right mood hue for this journey. Today’s usual triple seven has been replaced by an A340-500, and that is something of a rare treat. Thai Airways announced their disposal some months back, but this being TG, they’re still around - at least for now. I am painfully aware that this could well be my last chance to fly on one.

The Airbus 340-500 has become a victim of circumstance. Low on capacity, gas guzzling and perfect in proportion, this gorgeous bird will soon be leaving, and I can’t let it do so before saying farewell. I hope you’ll indulge me this trip report.



airport >>>

It’s still dark and raining when we get to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Appropriately, I am dropped off in front of a redundant sign. The Singapore Shuttle harks back to the not-so-distant days of the profitable SQ/MH duopoly on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route. But starting this month, open skies will bring multiple new daily frequencies from AirAsia, Tiger Airways, Jetstar Asia and Silk Air – and a price war – on this route. The national carriers must be sighing with nostalgia at the good old Shuttle days.



The six check-desks used for TG 420 to Bangkok are busier than usual, which is a good indication of the load on this flight. The queue moves quickly for me as the passenger ahead decides to let me overtake. It seems he is awaiting a uniformed TG staff (check-in is done by MH) to administer an upgrade to J class. It is an open secret that paid airport upgrades on TG are available at most stations and they’re often the cheaper way to a higher class of travel, as long as seats are available. It must be said here that one element of MH which has improved is check-in: I am impressed with the check-in agent who makes an attempt at speaking Thai to a fellow passenger who has difficulty understanding English.



Even though low cost AirAsia doesn’t fly from this terminal, a huge billboard directly opposite the MH economy class check-in island is unambiguous in its target market. The LCC is not winning over this passenger today, but it is getting harder to ignore an airline that frequently offers more convenient schedules than full service airlines on many regional routes. AirAsia’s 8x daily Kuala Lumpur – Bangkok schedule, for instance, is more than MH and TG combined.



Forgotten machines at the airport? KLIA offers common self check-in machines, but their use is half-hearted – Cathay Pacific, along with KLM and I have absolutely no idea who else, offer the service but their existence is all but ignored by most passengers. The airport webpage makes no mention of them. Much is made of the World’s Best Airport thing - unfortunately, like so many other trumpeted “successes” in this inferiority complex-inflicted country, there’s more form than substance in this claim.





But there’s no denying that architecturally, KLIA is a constant delight. Even now, ten years down the road, I still find new angles to seemingly familiar objects. Below, an exhibit depicting the history of the airport together with bits of Malaysian aviation of years gone-by makes an interesting diversion – it is part of the airport’s tenth birthday celebrations this year.





No queues at immigration means I breeze through to KLIA airside. Like almost all other foreign airlines serving the airport, TG departs from the “C” gates located at the satellite that’s reachable by a driver-less Aerotrain. The most notable plane there – for me, at least - is this Biman Bangladesh DC10-30 boarding for Dhaka. I post this photo for the benefit of those who are still trying to catch a ride aboard this wonderful trijet: come to KUL, D10 comrades!





Thai Airways’ Royal Silk Lounge, recently reopened after an extensive renovation, welcomes the airline’s Business Class passengers as well as Star Alliance Gold members. That’s probably why the lounge is far larger than TG would ever need for its three daily flights from KLIA. Early on this Saturday morning, the place is quiet and empty.





A medley of 1980s chart toppers plays in the background as dawn breaks to reveal an overly spacious and wet tarmac. The rain seems to have stopped but the sad, overcast skies will not make for good photography I fear.



As usual, I leave the lounge early to head for the departure gate. En route, I get another chance to view S2-ACP, now in a slightly better light. The trijet is joined by an MH B747-400 just arrived from London Heathrow as MH 003.



KLIA may not be a spotter’s paradise, but it does have its fair share of globally unique visitors. At another arm of the satellite from the Biman DC10 sits an Iran Air B747SP, awaiting its departure later this morning for Tehran. The SP flies a regular three-times-a-week schedule from this airport.



TG 420 is departing from Gate C17 this morning. This is one of the three end-gates at the satellite earmarked for the A380 – when, and if, they start operating from KLIA. Note the split level waiting areas that are clearly visible from the gate entrance.



Inside the departure lounge holding area, escalators and lifts connect the lower and upper levels. Two boarding aerobridges are connected to the lower level and another is attached to the upper level.



departure >>>

Thai Airways International
Kuala Lumpur – Bangkok on TG 420
Airbus 340-541 HS-TLA
Dep: 0759 Arr: 0858 (on time)

I spot HS-TLA – Thai Airways’ 2005-delivered first of four A340-500s – as my ride to Bangkok, but this is one of the few gate areas at KLIA where there isn’t a good vantage point to view or photograph aircraft. So it isn’t until we’re boarding through the glass aerobridge that I manage to get a better look.





It’s not as good a view as I had hoped. The early morning rain puts a damper on any attempt at a half-decent picture. You know those cooking programs where the host says: here’s one I prepared earlier…? Well, below is “the one I prepared earlier” – more than 2 years earlier to be precise, in October 2006. Here HS-TLA is being primed for departure from gate B22 at New York’s JFK Terminal 4 on the ultra long-haul to Bangkok, a route the airline no longer flies. It’s perhaps appropriate that I should be saying my farewell to TG’s A340-500 on a plane I am familiar with – I flew on HS-TLA for both legs of my long trip to and from New York that fall.



Welcomes aboard TG are hard to beat: the Sawasdee greeting is genuine and makes you feel you’re in Thailand already. All along the fuselage, you are greeted with “wais” so personalized that you sometimes forget you’re flying economy. This aircraft is equipped with 60 Business Class angled-flat sleepers, 42 Premium Economy Class seats at a 42-inch pitch and 113 Economy seats at a generous 36-inch pitch. On this flight however, the Premium Economy cabin is sold as economy and available for selection at online check-in. I choose a window seat at the back of the Premium cabin. This is my view across the same row: just check out that legroom.





I settle into seat 36A, which is wider than the normal steerage offering. What you do immediately appreciate is the general feeling of space. Elbow, shoulder and, dare I say, knee room: there’s just more of everything around.



The cabin fills up: it’s a full flight. Once, that would have limited my photo taking opportunities as I try to keep the camera hidden in discreet corners. (I notice many trip reporters on A.net still do.) But I don’t any longer and actually, it’s so much better. I apologize in advance to my neighbor for the strange behavior – he’s nice about it but is generally disinterested in why I would want to document this flight. Your fellow passengers already think you’re weird anyway (you think they didn’t catch you sneakily photographing your meal?), so you might as well go the whole nine yards, and act the part.



We push back four minutes behind schedule – the Rolls purring as we taxi – and follow the Biman DC10 to 32R, where there’s no queue for takeoff at this hour. Light as a feather on this relatively short hop, we climb quickly away from the rainy oil palm plantations and clear the clouds to bluer skies at cruising altitude.





inflight >>>

Over the past three years, I have been flying the KUL-BKK route more than any other, and usually it’s on TG. But familiarity breeds a sort of sense numbing routine that’s not good at all for trip reports. The feeling of wonder and excitement – an important ingredient for good reports – is so often missing because the reporter has become a mere commuter. It’s not surprising therefore that some of the most interesting trip reports are written by outsiders to a region: they spot things and details locals and regulars miss, or dismiss.

I realize I just torpedoed this report even before finishing it, but hey, that’s the reality. Having said all that, the desire to write this report allowed me to examine afresh some things I have (or would have) taken for granted. And I have to say I am hugely impressed with TG’s offering: it’s in the details. In the midst of cost cutting orgies and encroaching LCC competition, having this large, thick and comfy duvet-like blanket placed on every seat in this cabin is almost decadent for a short 1 hour 50 minute flight.



And when was the last time you travelled economy and was offered postcards and writing paper in an individualized folder? On this flight, every passenger in the Premium cabin finds this throwback to the glory days of flying (airline forwards your letter or postcard free of charge) in his/her seat pocket. What an indulgence.





The seat pocket also contains a lavishly illustrated safety information card which may interest some A.net members. I am not a collector of these cards, but I would imagine TG’s must be among the nicer ones to keep for those who do.





There are four washrooms shared between the Premium economy and economy cabins. Even here, there is attention to detail you just don’t find on many carriers – even less so at the back of the bus on a short flight.



We’re just overhead Penang when it’s time for breakfast. Decent in size, the sturdy tray tables are found in the armrest.





The trolleys appear from behind the Business Class curtains and breakfast service starts from the front of the cabin. A cheerful duo is doling out the trays: they’re standard Y class rather than the linen/china style of Premium Economy. The choice this morning is between omelet and Chinese-style chicken with fried rice, together with offers of coffee, tea and juice. Catered from KUL, the meal is decent but unimpressive. I’ve had better on TG; especially the fiery Thai curries out of BKK are delicious.





The airline this year changed the style of headsets it uses in economy class. This small purple pouch containing the device is passed out to passengers for them to keep. My AVOD froze on me so I had no use for mine, but in any case, I wasn’t planning to spend my short time aboard watching half a movie.



There’s a fair bit of turbulence over southern Thailand, but I take the opportunity between the pockets of rough air to walk about. Below are the six rows of Premium Economy. Notice the open curtains between this cabin and Business Class. That’s because all J Class passengers today are seated in the forward cabin ahead of the galley.





The economy class cabin is spacious and cheerful: the seats have the same sized PTV screen as in Premium Economy. One of challenges of being a trip reporter is trying to “do the job” without being too much of a nuisance to others. My neighbor chooses to sleep for most of the flight which would have meant disturbing him every time I get out of my window seat. Luckily, the Premium Economy seat slides down and forwards into its partial shell; so even in full recline mode, it encroaches only a little on the space of the passenger behind. Which means I get to squeeze past with minimal disturbance.



arrival >>>
It’s not long before we’re over the Gulf of Thailand and preparing for descent, and a smooth landing at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.





We have come to the end of the flight, and dock two minutes ahead of schedule next to a company B744 in the Star Alliance livery.



Most passengers may be anxious to get off, but not this one. I take my time as the whole of Premium Economy and then economy empties around me. This is the window seat at row 36 without its former occupant.



Back in economy class, the exit row seats are the ones to take for legroom. They beat any in Premium Economy or even Business Class.





The crews are still busy clearing up but they oblige when I ask for a posed photograph. It had been a very pleasant flight, and these wonderful girls are responsible for making that happen.



Not for the first time, I am the last passenger to get off the plane. It had been a wonderful experience aboard TG’s A340-500; though, if I am lucky again tomorrow, it will not have been my last.





sunday

Did I forget to tell you I bought an insurance policy? Checking where the A340-500 is being used around the region (LAX is stretching the budget!) became a bit of an obsession after I booked my KUL-BKK flight. After all, TG is notorious for changing equipment around: I had to be sure I’d get on one, so I take two stabs at it. When I find that it’s slated to operate the BKK-SIN sector next day, I knew what I had to do. I’d be heading home via SIN.



airport >>>



This is Suvarnabhumi two days before the storm. Protests are in full swing at Government House and in parts of town, and already, there is talk they’re aiming for the airport. Thousands of passengers pass through this hub – the region’s busiest – blissfully unaware that it will soon be paralyzed for a whole week. Below, TG’s Royal Silk (Business) Class check-in desks are busy in a business-as-usual mode. Economy is full on this flight, so I fork out a little more for J class.



The fast track immigration desks are close to the Royal Silk Class check-in, and they bring you immediately to the sign below. If you take the escalators, you’ll reach the Royal Silk Lounge at Concourse D, the largest of TG’s many lounges at the airport. Today, it’s totally packed out, so I move on.



I next try one of TG’s two lounges at Concourse C, which is a bit quieter; but as usual, I quickly tire of the confines of the place and nomad-like, move on to the next one.





I am curious to see the Royal Orchid Spa – unlike many of the other lounges which are open to Star Alliance members, this one is only for the use of TG’s own F and J class passengers, so today is a rare opportunity to see it. I went in hopes of taking pictures only, but am talked into a 15-minute neck and shoulder massage instead; which – for this novice – is rather more pain than relaxation! There’s a nice feel to this lounge though: cool, serene and (apart from the muted moans from one SIN-bound passenger) quiet, as spas should be, I guess.





My attempt at taking more photos was stopped firmly, but politely. Sorry Sir, you can take pictures of the lounge area but not the inside of the spa. Please enjoy your herbal tea…



Having exhausted my photo opportunities at the spa, I move on again. Next door, I find another TG lounge, but as I don’t seem to fit into any of these categories, I saunter off towards the gate with still plenty of time to spare.





Architecturally, Suvarnabhumi is another stunning airport. What a shame, the overly complicated, multi-level design makes it such a nuisance to use.





Boarding for TG 413 to Singapore is from gate C6. I look out at the tarmac, half expecting an aircraft substitution – maybe it’ll be an A300-600 or something equally sinister? But not to fear, it’s a four-holer all right.



And guess what, it’s HS-TLA again!



departure >>>

Thai Airways International
Bangkok – Singapore on TG 413
Airbus 340-541 HS-TLA
Dep: 1055 Arr: 1412 (on time)



There are only 4 passengers, including me, seated in the back Royal Silk Class cabin; the front cabin is somewhat busier. Although quite a number of airlines use these generic J class sleeper seats, there’s something about the TG color scheme and cabin that makes them seem nicer than the rest.



Welcome drinks are served, menus distributed and lunch orders taken while we’re still on the ground. Khun Kannika, who leads the team today, comes round to say hello – but ends up chatting for a long time after she discovers I am aboard today “because of the A340-500”. She tells me there are 20 passengers in J class today, but economy is full. She doesn’t know about A.net (“I try not think about work… when I am not flying, I am with my kids and praying to God,” she says) but does know why this plane is still in the TG fleet. Kannika points to the Trents outside: it’s four-engines, uses a lot of fuel. “I guess no one wants to buy this plane,” she says with a sigh.



We push back five minutes early, taxi past another A345 and head away south towards Singapore.



inflight >>>





A glass of TG’s excellent iced lemon tea is a great way to start the Royal Silk Class experience. As this is the ‘insurance’ flight, I take it easier and become more passenger than trip reporter. This flight is to be savored.



Lunch service starts promptly the moment we’re at cruising altitude. First, the peppered salmon appetizer to start.



This is followed by a very delicious beef curry.



Dessert and liqueurs are served from the trolley. The cake and coffee round-off a very satisfying meal.





The BKK-SIN flight is only marginally longer than the KUL-BKK service, so there’s really not much time to sit back and watch a movie or have a snooze. But there is time to reflect on my adventures this weekend, which is personally satisfying – even if a little extravagant in these troubled times. There still are plenty of A340-500s flying today, and some are even being newly delivered, but their use will be confined to specific routes and airlines not easily accessible to all. I’m almost certain the A340-500 will join the likes of the B747SP in achieving a unique status as one of those special rare birds. I am just grateful I had this opportunity.

Flying in an empty-ish cabin also allows me to take more pics. Even though I didn’t get the opportunity to sleep in it, here’s my seat in sloping bed mode.



arrival >>>

All too soon, we're descending into Singapore Changi. We land on time despite the bumps as we break through dark clouds heavy with rain. As I bid farewell to HS-TLA, small droplets have already started trickling down the window panes.



By the time I board my SQ B772 connection to Kuala Lumpur, Sunday afternoon had been completely washed out.



Thank you for reading.

20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineEconojetter From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 430 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 29170 times:

Wow wow wow... another winner!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
It must be said here that one element of MH which has improved is check-in: I am impressed with the check-in agent who makes an attempt at speaking Thai to a fellow passenger who has difficulty understanding English.

When I checked in for a JL flight, I noticed the check-in agents had their names written in katakana on a name card placed on top of the counter. Don't know if they spoke Japanese though.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
unfortunately, like so many other trumpeted “successes” in this inferiority complex-inflicted country,

You need to be reprogrammed. Repeat with me 100 times, "Malaysia Boleh!"
 Wink

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
satellite from the Biman DC10 sits an Iran Air B747SP, awaiting its departure later this morning for Tehran. The SP flies a regular three-times-a-week schedule from this airport.

Ahh I see you have found the subject of your future trip report... unless you have done it already

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
You know those cooking programs where the host says: here’s one I prepared earlier…? Well, below is “the one I prepared earlier” – more than 2 years earlier to be precise, in October 2006.

LOL

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Elbow, shoulder and, dare I say, knee room:

That's more like it. Remember, it's all about the knees.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Having said all that, the desire to write this report allowed me to examine afresh some things I have (or would have) taken for granted. And I have to say I am hugely impressed with TG’s offering: it’s in the details.

Yeah one would have to be in a trip reporter mode. I haven't been for the longest time.

http://i149.photobucket.com/albums/s43/airpearl2007/34539.jpg
Interesting... err... bat's eye view. Did you just hold the camera over your head and snap this?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Dessert and liqueurs are served from the trolley. The cake and coffee round-off a very satisfying meal.

This looked really really good.

Again... thanks for the very excellent report. I really appreciate the effort, and I know many others do too.


User currently offlineMusapapaya From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 1054 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 29127 times:

Amazing report - very nice aircraft after all!

My only time on thai was a B744 from HKG to BKK, and at that time the plane was old..... but sad to see such a good plane leaving.

Thanks for sharing this with us.



Lufthansa Group of Airlines
User currently offlineLH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1709 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 29104 times:

That was a great reoprt! I loved that you put so much details in it, it almost felt like being onboard the flight  Smile
The Y+ seats looked very business class like. I was quite surprised to see such a big tray with real china and silverware on a 2hr flight in Y.
The lounges in BKK and KUL looked nice too, though i didn't see any pics of the food section.
It is indeed very sad to see the A345 leaving the TG fleet, it truly is a beautyful aircraft, and i would have loved to fly on it.
It would have been nice to see some pics of your SQ flight back to KUL, though...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
She doesn’t know about A.net (“I try not think about work… when I am not flying, I am with my kids and praying to God,” she says)

Praying to god, is she a muslim?

Thanks for sharing.



SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
User currently offlineDavescj From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 2292 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 29054 times:

Great TR! I greatly enjoyed seeing more of TG!

Dave



Can I have a mojito on this flight?
User currently offline9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2106 posts, RR: 19
Reply 5, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 28921 times:

Very nice composition Airpearl. Your's are the one I always looking forward, to get engaged with the experience flying on good airlines I have no opportunity and resources to try on. Rest assured, your compelling words waving got me hooked up through and out.

User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 6, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 27715 times:

Thanks for your comments guys, as always, I really appreciate it.

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 1):
You need to be reprogrammed. Repeat with me 100 times, "Malaysia Boleh!"

Hey Econojetter, you old patriot you...oh yeah, I say that every morning before work haha.

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 1):
Ahh I see you have found the subject of your future trip report...

The Iran Air SP will be a dream to get on!

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 1):
Interesting... err... bat's eye view. Did you just hold the camera over your head and snap this?

It was a bit of a "stretch" ... I was getting bored with the usual cabin angles, just wanted to try something different hehe

Quoting Musapapaya (Reply 2):
sad to see such a good plane leaving.

Thnaks for your comments Muspapaya. Yes, I will miss it too, a real shame. I think it is the nicest plane in the TG fleet right now. But who knows, with the lower fuel prices and the lack of buyers for the plane, they may well keep it. TG has done stranger things before.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 3):
it almost felt like being onboard the flight

In that case, welcome aboard LH4116!

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 3):
I was quite surprised to see such a big tray with real china and silverware on a 2hr flight in Y.

TG do that most regional flights, at least for now. But with aggressive cost cutting everywhere and new competition, I fear we may soon see the end of "service" as we know it here in Asia.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 3):
i didn't see any pics of the food section.

sorry about that... did not get any shots

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 3):
Praying to god, is she a muslim?

Well actually she is... but we had an interesting conversation too about how she overcame cancer. That's how the subject of praying came up...

Quoting Davescj (Reply 4):
I greatly enjoyed seeing more of TG

Thanks for your comments Davescj. TG is one of my favorites too.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 5):
Your's are the one I always looking forward, to get engaged with the experience flying on good airlines I have no opportunity and resources to try on

Hello 9MMAR, thanks for your very nice words. I am glad I didn't disappoint you this time Sir! Hehe


User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8430 posts, RR: 55
Reply 7, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 26689 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Great report and pictures, really enjoyed, excellent stuff!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I am hugely impressed with TG%u2019s offering: it%u2019s in the details. In the midst of cost cutting orgies and encroaching LCC competition, having this large, thick and comfy duvet-like blanket placed on every seat in this cabin is almost decadent for a short 1 hour 50 minute flight.

- Really amazing for such a short flight!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
And guess what, it’s HS-TLA again!

- Iove the 345, but pls, a different reg!!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I’m almost certain the A340-500 will join the likes of the B747SP in achieving a unique status as one of those special rare birds

- Totally agree.

I've been lucky enough to fly on 2 different 345's, hopefully I will manage few more in the future, lovely bird!

Regards

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333,342
User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4738 posts, RR: 26
Reply 8, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 26472 times:

Just as I was pondering how the hell should I start my work week after a long weekend... You come up with this stunner.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Much is made of the World’s Best Airport thing - unfortunately, like so many other trumpeted “successes” in this inferiority complex-inflicted country, there’s more form than substance in this claim.

Man... Take it easy on your own country man. Can't say they don't try!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The most notable plane there – for me, at least - is this Biman Bangladesh DC10-30 boarding for Dhaka.

It this delayed / delayed extensively / cancelled / grounded / write-off / AOG'ed?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Your fellow passengers already think you’re weird anyway (you think they didn’t catch you sneakily photographing your meal?), so you might as well go the whole nine yards, and act the part.

You have just descibed how I behave in planes. One of these days, I tell you - I will be disembarking with my hands bound in plastic straps into a waiting police escort for being a terrorist armed with a camera.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
But familiarity breeds a sort of sense numbing routine that’s not good at all for trip reports. The feeling of wonder and excitement – an important ingredient for good reports – is so often missing because the reporter has become a mere commuter.

I know what you mean... I became pretty much like that for my SIN-CGK-SIN commutes. Even the smell radiating fro the aglley, I already knew what food choices they were going to have.


Hmm... They were wearing the "kebayas" during meal service? And I noticed they changed into the "ground" uniform during landing and passenger disembarkation? Talk about being inconsistent!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I went in hopes of taking pictures only, but am talked into a 15-minute neck and shoulder massage instead; which – for this novice – is rather more pain than relaxation! There’s a nice feel to this lounge though: cool, serene and (apart from the muted moans from one SIN-bound passenger) quiet, as spas should be, I guess.

Novice indeed. I was like you before squirming and squealing at every twist of the knot. But I have since gone beyond that and now I cannot do without a massage A DAY whenever I am in Bangkok!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Boarding for TG 413 to Singapore is from gate C6. I look out at the tarmac, half expecting an aircraft substitution – maybe it’ll be an A300-600 or something equally sinister? But not to fear, it’s a four-holer all right.

Sigh... I do miss TG 413 as it used to continue to Jakarta. It offered very reasonable fares and the timings were great too similar to KLM! Now they have noth cancelled their tag-ons to CGK from SIN and unless you have dole to fork out on uber-expensive SQ or GA (Actually JT ain't that cheap either), you are stuck with the wierd timings of EK and QR. I am not sure if LH still operates this route or not. Of course there is always VF...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Kannika points to the Trents outside: it’s four-engines, uses a lot of fuel. “I guess no one wants to buy this plane,” she says with a sigh.

It is always nice to have a member of the crew who at least can empathise with your hobby, although they might not understand why we indulge in such strange behaviour.


Slurp... is that pa naeng? Beef is good although my favourite pa naeng would be the one with duck.



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlineChristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 934 posts, RR: 8
Reply 9, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 26147 times:

Nice report! Wish TG would add the premium econ to other aircraft.


Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineKiramakora From Argentina, joined Aug 2006, 546 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 25700 times:

What a wonderful endorsement of Thai. I have some great memories of them - though, their service has been indifferent of late. I think their Y and Y+ looks better than their J. While their seat colour scheme looks good, I feel that the in full recline mode it is very cramped. Would you agree?

User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 11, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 25342 times:

Thanks for the comments guys.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 7):
Really amazing for such a short flight

Hi Mark, I thought so too. These are legacies of the good old days and I fear that we may soon see them disappear. Enjoy them while we can, huh?

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 8):
It this delayed / delayed extensively / cancelled / grounded / write-off / AOG'ed?

Now, now Ryanair!!!, we are talking about the airline that won KLIA's Airline of the Year award, no less. Actually, believe it or not, it was running on time  Wow! - unless this was yesterday's flight running 24 hours late hehe

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 8):
One of these days, I tell you - I will be disembarking with my hands bound in plastic straps into a waiting police escort for being a terrorist armed with a camera.

But, be sure to write a TR!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 8):
They were wearing the "kebayas" during meal service? And I noticed they changed into the "ground" uniform during landing and passenger disembarkation? Talk about being inconsistent!

It's the sort of 'inconsistency' that makes TG still so quaint.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 8):
Slurp... is that pa naeng? Beef is good although my favourite pa naeng would be the one with duck.

Yes it is... and yummy! Agree duck is even better.

Quoting Christao17 (Reply 9):
Wish TG would add the premium econ to other aircraft.

Hi Christao17, I do remember your TG A345 NY Express report well - that's one of the reasons I chose TG for my trip to New York in 2006. I think TG's Premium Econ would have got quite a following had they expanded this class to their B744s. But of course, they do sell their old C Class as Premium Econ on flights to Scandinavia.

Quoting Kiramakora (Reply 10):
I have some great memories of them - though, their service has been indifferent of late.

Hi Kiramakora, I think TG's service varies widely depending on route and class. I am frequently impressed flying in Y on a domestic sector but have been disappointed flying J on a longer sector. It may have something to do with my expectations. My flying on TG has slowed down sharply over the past few months, so I really can't say whether service quality has deteriorated. But given the goings on higher up in the airline, I wouldn't be surprised.

Quoting Kiramakora (Reply 10):
I feel that the in full recline mode it is very cramped. Would you agree?

I guess you're talking about J class? I'm not a fan of these angled-flat seats, but I wouldn't call them cramped. Maybe the trick is not to fully recline them... haha You should try CX's new herringbone design J class to see the real meaning of cramming 'em in! As for TG's Y class, I'm generally okay with it.


User currently offlineRonerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1653 posts, RR: 53
Reply 12, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 25017 times:

WOW! One word, AMAZING!!!!!!!!

This TR brought me wonders to an otherwise utterly dull day today! I read it twice! haha

I was quite surprised to discover that the A345 is still with TG. Then again, i do not know why i assumed they got rid of them already, even though they only announced their intentions to.

I know i keep saying this, but the A345 is, and will always be the best aircraft ever manufactured. Not the 747, not the A346, and not even the A380!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
It must be said here that one element of MH which has improved is check-in: I am impressed with the check-in agent who makes an attempt at speaking Thai to a fellow passenger who has difficulty understanding English.

I am glad you have noticed this as well. I have no past experience with MH's ground handling at KLIA, but all i can say was i had a really positive experience checking in for my KUL-DXB flight in October. This i found to be contrary to what many have told me before.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
an Iran Air B747SP, awaiting its departure later this morning for Tehran. The SP flies a regular three-times-a-week schedule from this airport.

Now THAT is an airline/aircraft combo i must try. My dream flight # 2 after the milk-run: ICN-IKA on the SP (if its still operating) hehe

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
gate B22 at New York’s JFK Terminal 4

Seems to be the 'unofficial' A345 gate at JFK. EY docks there on a daily basis; the very same gate i used on my last trip to JFK.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
just check out that legroom.

Insane!!!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Your fellow passengers already think you’re weird anyway (you think they didn’t catch you sneakily photographing your meal?), so you might as well go the whole nine yards, and act the part.

LOL. Well once you gain momentum, you just can't stop, even if you get weird looks. The only challege i face, is getting into that confidence zone.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The seat pocket also contains a lavishly illustrated safety information card which may interest some A.net members. I am not a collector of these cards, but I would imagine TG’s must be among the nicer ones to keep for those who do.

Maybe one day to be found on ebay haha

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Checking where the A340-500 is being used around the region (LAX is stretching the budget!) became a bit of an obsession after I booked my KUL-BKK flight. After all, TG is notorious for changing equipment around: I had to be sure I’d get on one, so I take two stabs at it. When I find that it’s slated to operate the BKK-SIN sector next day, I knew what I had to do. I’d be heading home via SIN.

LOL. You're getting hooked  Wink This freakin' bird is addictive!


Thanks a lot for sharing this report! I hope to fly TG one day!

Hope all is well with u man!

Regards,
Roni



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlinePumaknight From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 249 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 24725 times:

Wonderful TR, just wonderful.


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User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 14, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 24240 times:



Quoting Pumaknight (Reply 13):
just wonderful.

Thanks Pumaknight, very glad you enjoyed it!

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 12):
I was quite surprised to discover that the A345 is still with TG...
I know i keep saying this, but the A345 is, and will always be the best aircraft ever manufactured.

Hey Roni, great to hear from you buddy, hope you're keeping well! Actually I was expecting the bird to be gone too, and hearing it'd be flying my usual route meant I had to get aboard! It's such a shame the A345 is not flying with more airlines.

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 12):
i had a really positive experience checking in for my KUL-DXB flight in October. This i found to be contrary to what many have told me before.

The improvement over the past 2 years has been nothing short of phenomenal. Idris Jala can be justly proud of this legacy. As for some other parts of MH, ahem, let's leave it for another time...

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 12):
LOL. Well once you gain momentum, you just can't stop, even if you get weird looks. The only challege i face, is getting into that confidence zone.

Haha.. I find the easiest way is to start off with a camera in your hand - then you avoid that awkward 'where did that camera pop up from?' moment. But I agree, it's tough sometimes - a lot depends on your neighbours

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 12):
You're getting hooked This freakin' bird is addictive!

Yup, and it's getting expensive too!


User currently offlineEPA001 From Netherlands, joined Sep 2006, 4593 posts, RR: 38
Reply 15, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 23633 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!



Quoting Airpearl (Reply 14):
It's such a shame the A345 is not flying with more airlines.

Yes it is. The A340-500 to me is the most beautiful civilian bird around! It deserves more customers but with the B787 and A350-XWB around the corner, it will no happen.

This trip report has been a wonderful experience to watch and read. Thank you very much for your effort in creating this extensive post. It is almost as good as if I was flying the trip myself. And having been to Malaysia 5 times already, and to Singapore-Changi 2 times, it is always nice to read about these fine places and to see nice pictures of them. BKK is on my list of cities and airports to visit for 2009!

Also T3 at Changi will be new to me since the A380 will bring me from London to Singapore this coming Spring!

Thanks again!


User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6643 posts, RR: 78
Reply 16, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 23390 times:

Absolutely great report with so many clear pictures. TG's A345 is a fantastic bird, the cabin seems to be just perfect for ultra-long legs. What a pity too see these planes leave.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently onlineBurj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 900 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (4 years 4 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 19504 times:

Wow thanks for sharing! Loved the report, especially the pictures!

User currently offlineSIN7 From Singapore, joined Jun 2007, 168 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (4 years 4 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 19307 times:

Great TR and pics! Thanks for sharing.
TG's good. Will fly with them long haul anytime.
Even with their limited IFE, it was a pleasure.
Yep, never miss the Thai dishes ex-BKK.
The Thai desserts are awesome too.


User currently offlineJayeshrulz From India, joined Apr 2007, 1027 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (4 years 3 months 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 17334 times:

I loved your TR.Never flew TG, but will for sure try out the "4 holers" lol.

excellent.

jk.



Keep flying, because the sky is no limit!
User currently offlineHOOB747 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 434 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (4 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 16882 times:

What a fantastic TR, I salute you and your style! You remind me of why I love Asia so much, from the diverse selection of birds to spot to the amazing airports that dazzle the eye. Thanks for the pics of Bangkok, I can't wait to check out that terminal next month. I have never flown on a 345, but now feel like I have, thanks to your photos and words! Beautiful bird indeed, and the Thai service looks top-notch. Thanks for a super-awesome read!!


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