I had wanted to take a round-the-world trip for many years and last summer I finally decided to do it. Originally, my plan for October 2010 was to visit a good friend in Brisbane again after a break of four years. While searching for flight options, I realized that a visit to Brisbane would be a great opportunity to create a round-the-world trip. RTW packages by the large alliances didn't attract me due to numerous restrictions and the limited choice of airlines. I found it much more interesting to combine all kinds of airlines without someone restricting anything.
As usual, my focus was on new carriers and new types - and my intensive searches turned out to be successful. First of all, I booked the long-haul flights, followed by a few connecting flights. Finally, I added some more side trip flights. Final routing: Munich-Bangkok-Brisbane-Melbourne-Albury-Sydney-Auckland-Christchurch-Dunedin-Wellington-Auckland-San Francisco-Munich. The itinerary included 12 flights, 7 new airlines, 5 new airports and 3 new types. I would leave on 2 October and return 11 days later, after flying 26345 miles (42398 kilometers).
Thai Airways International was my airline of choice between Munich and Brisbane. I had never flown Thai before and been anxious to try it after reading and hearing countless positive reports. Thai was also one of a few carriers offering acceptable one-way fares between MUC and BNE. I was well aware that Thai's 747-400s aren't equipped with individual IFE screens, but I was planning to rest on the night flight to BKK anyway. Not to forget, generous legroom could be expected on the 747. Another good reason for Thai: the flight between Bangkok and Brisbane would be operated by a 777-200ER with new seats and advanced IFE. I finally booked the Thai combo on STA Travel, the one and only agency selling it at a reasonable price. Due to the transfer time of more than 10 hours at Bangkok, I also reserved a room for 6 hours in the Louis' Tavern transit hotel.
Checking in online hadn't been possible, so I had to join an extra-long queue in front of Thai's desks. Even though I arrived at Terminal 2 more than two hours prior to departure, some 150 people were already waiting in line. Most of them were Asians, many of them equipped with large suitcases, boxes and shopping bags. Anyway, there was no reason to worry because I had already reserved my seats in advance. I had selected an aisle seat on the 747 and a window seat on the 777, both of them in the rear section. After an annoying waiting time of more than 30 minutes, I finally received my boarding passes. Interestingly, my pre-reserved aisle seat on the left side had been replaced by a similar one on the right side, but I didn't mind about that.
About an hour prior to departure, I passed one of the mostly deserted security checkpoints. I was expecting to be at the gate only a few minutes later, but things should develop differently: Masses of people were waiting in long queues at passport control. Even though two dozen flights - including several long-haul flights - were scheduled to leave from the H gate area (non-Schengen) within the next 1.5 hours, only 50 percent of the existing counters were staffed by Bundespolizei (federal police) officers. There was an express line for certain flights, but lining up there didn't help anyone. Numerous people were concerned about missing their flights and asked whether they could move up front. Just like in May, when I was heading to Manchester, there was a dramatic lack of officers - quite a shame considering that MUC's Terminal 2 is one of the most modern and most convenient airport buildings in the world.
Another 30 minutes later, I finally arrived at the gate area and I was happy about spotting a black tail. I had hoped to get one of two specially painted planes in the 18-strong 747 fleet - and Thai had indeed sent HS-TGW, wearing the Star Alliance livery:
The gate area was crowded and it was obvious that the flight would be full. A boarding announcement was only made for First and Business Class passengers - a general boarding call apparently wasn't considered necessary, so I simply joined the queue after a while. The welcome on board was not as sincere as expected, some flight attendants were quite reserved.
The colorful old-style seats were quite comfortable… (picture taken after landing)
...and the 34-inch seat pitch was simply great:
The two seats next to me were taken by a nice Bavarian couple who was going on a long-haul trip for the first time. We would talk a bit from time to time in the next 10 hours. At one point they reacted with surprise when I told them that I had flown on 100 different airlines - probably they didn't believe me because they remained quiet for a while afterwards.
After boarding had been completed, flight attendants offered hot towels and handed out menu cards as well as nicely packed headsets:
The plane was pushed back 22 minutes late, but I never heard an explanation. As soon as the plane started taxiing, the air conditioning was turned up and cold air kept strongly blowing straight at me. I was very annoyed about that because I had just recently recovered from a cold. 16 minutes after pushback, we finally reached runway 08R and HS-TGW started its long takeoff roll. About 15 minutes after takeoff, fortunately, the air conditioning was turned down again.
After we had reached our cruising altitude, the captain made a welcome speech and informed about the routing. We would fly over Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Myanmar, among others. That was quite helpful because the map would be shown only shortly from time to time on the main screen.
Drinks and peanuts were offered 30 minutes after takeoff. My ginger ale was served in a cup:
Soon it was time to have a closer look at the pretty menu card:
That sounds quite promising, doesn't it?
I ordered the curry chicken, but it wasn't available any more and I had to take the steak - not exactly what I would usually eat late at night.
No doubts, the presentation was very good and the portion was big - but the main course and the salad lacked quality. The steak was hard like a brick and the potatoes were quite dry - some more sauce would have been useful. I neither finished the meat nor the salad - the latter tasted very strange, who knows which kind of herbs contributed to that. The cake was okay, but couldn't make up for the other items. That meal was a big disappointment.
I wasn't interested in the main screen programming and (successfully) tried to get some sleep instead. More than six hours after dinner, the flight attendants started serving breakfast. The description sounded promising again:
Another pretty tray...
...and this time I was entirely satisfied with the meal. The spinach was a bit sludgy, but everything else was fine. Even the chicken sausage tasted good. Well done, Thai!
After breakfast, it was time for a cabin shot. I didn't see an empty seat in Economy Class:
Nice scenery, about 45 minutes before landing:
We touched down at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport after 9 hours and 49 minutes and arrived at the gate 13 minutes early. Parked next to us was sister ship HS-TGP, the other 747 wearing a special livery (retro colors):
One more cabin shot - I must admit I really like Thai's colorful cabins:
Transfer at Bangkok-Subvarnabhumi
Just after disembarking, I realized that the Louis' Tavern transfer hotel was located more or less on the other side of the airport. Walking more than 25 minutes in the terminal can be a real pain due to the lack of a proper air conditioning. At least the artwork in the terminal is nice:
Louis' Tavern is located in a corner on the 4th floor of concourse G:
The rates are based on a six hours basis and include a continental breakfast (extensions possible). I paid 3500 Baht (about 85 Euro) back in October, but it may be cheaper in other months. The receptionists were nice, but the room itself didn't impress me. It looked worn and wasn't perfectly clean:
What bothered me most was the air conditioning which I couldn't turn lower. The shower didn't work properly either. Anyway, at least I could see some planes from my room, e.g. Ethiopian 767-300ER and Turkish A340-300:
EVA Air 747-400:
I slept a few hours and left the room on time. Then I went to the cafeteria and found out that the continental breakfast was rather disappointing. I only ate some bread and fresh fruit.
About 3 hours before departure, I left the transit hotel and started walking back to the other side of the airport again where my flight to Brisbane would depart from. Nice artwork again:
There were still a few hours to kill and I mostly kept reading near my gate. Spotting was impossible in the darkness and the rainy weather, one couldn't even see the registrations of planes taxiing by closely. It was still hot in the terminal, I felt tired and suffered from headache. At least my flight was still on schedule - the one to Sydney had been cancelled.
The gate was opened about one hour prior to departure. Interestingly, the plane hadn't arrived yet. Finally, after another 20 minutes, the 777 showed up. At the time of booking and in the subsequent weeks TG473 had always been operated by the relatively new 777-200ERs, but according to ACARS, Thai then started to sporadically use the older 777-200s, too. Of course I had been hoping that I would get a 777-200ER...but Thai did me no favors. The plane at the gate was HS-TJH, the newest of eight 777-200s, delivered in January 1998. It was almost impossible to take pictures through the odd windows in the darkness:
Of course I was disappointed at first, but I was very tired and my headache had become worse, so the annoyance was soon gone.
I joined the queue early and stepped on board among the first Economy passengers. Friendly flight attendants welcomed me, but again I missed a special touch. The new-style seats were comfortable...
...but I didn’t like the dull seatback:
Seat pitch (most likely 31 inches) was insufficient - and the useless IFE box didn't help either:
According to Seatguru, the seats in the rear Economy section on Thai's 777-200s and 777-200ERs have less pitch than those in the forward section. Quite odd!
Again I didn't see an empty seat in the cabin, two Australian guys in the late 30s filled up my row. After the flight attendants had handed out hot towels, headsets and menu cards, we left the gate 23 minutes late. Then it took another 22 minutes until HS-TJH powerfully climbed into the night sky. The plane's front camera had been switched on for takeoff, but I had only limited views of the screen.
This time I got a whole can of ginger ale:
I had a quick look at the menu card and decided to order the cold cuts platter:
And guess what? Yes, the cold cuts platter wasn't available any more. I wasn't keen on chicken with garlic, so I took the fish:
The presentation was nice and the fish itself was okay, but the sauce didn't taste acceptable at all. The prawn and bean salad was even worse than the one on TG925, totally awful. At least the cake tasted good. I'm really wondering why Thai offers two hot meal options in the middle of the night - I guess most passengers prefer a light snack like the cold cuts platter.
After some hours of rest and sleep, we were cruising over Eastern Australia:
I ordered the omelette and even got it:
Just like on TG925, the breakfast was fine, except for the sludgy spinach.
The obligatory cabin shot:
HS-TJH left its cruising altitude some 25 minutes before landing:
We touched down on Australian soil after 8 hours and 19 minutes and taxied back to the international terminal where we arrived 21 minutes late. Some other visitors:
HS-TJH in daylight:
Passing immigration and customs didn't take very long this time and I already met my friend about half an hour after landing. Story to be continued...
My first flights on Thai Airways were okay, but far from being as good as expected. While I liked the seating comfort on the 747, I felt cramped on the 777. The lack of individual IFE on both night flights didn't turn out to be a major problem. However, I wouldn't want to spend 20 hours without decent IFE on successive day flights. I really hope Thai will also install new seats and the latest IFE on its 747 fleet which will remain operative for many more years.
While I cannot complain about meal presentation and food quantity in general, I wasn't satisfied with the quality of the main courses and the salads. Offering a choice of three main courses is nice, but it's disappointing if you don't get the desired food on two successive flights.
Flight attendants and ground staff members were friendly and helpful, but quite reserved in many cases. Were they really as special as often claimed? Definitely not - rather average I would say. What I liked on Thai was the supply of hot towels and menu cards.
Anyway, even though Thai didn't impress me, I would give the carrier a second chance - probably after the introduction of factory-fresh 77Ws and A380s.
jrfspa320 From Australia, joined Sep 2005, 355 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Thanks for the report, im hoping to fly thai soon so good to see what im in for, Not out of choice though, using miles and impossible to get a seat on SQ to TG it will be!
Thai have to be the only carrier on the kangaroo route without AVOD, strange to refit the cabin and not install PVT but the boxes?
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1241 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Hello Planehunter. Nice report to kick of 2011. I am very much looking forward to the next set of flights.
Sorry your flights on TG were average. I totally agree with you. I flew with TG in 2000 from Melbourne to Frankfurt and I was totally underwhelmed by the service onboard and food. It was nothing special at all. The MEL-BKK flight was on one of TG's "new" 773s and it was the most uncomfortable flight I've had in a long time.
So much so, that I've not flown with TG since, and that was nearly 11 years ago.
Shame you were seated on the wrong side of the aircraft for spectacular views of central Brisbane (my hometown) when you arrived. If Rw 01 is in use, and you are seated on the port side of the aircraft, you ordinarily get great views of Brisbane from your seat.
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7098 posts, RR: 76
Reply 4, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Quoting Palmjet (Reply 3): Hello Planehunter. Nice report to kick of 2011. I am very much looking forward to the next set of flights.
Hi Palmjet, many thanks for your feedback!
Quoting Palmjet (Reply 3): The MEL-BKK flight was on one of TG's "new" 773s and it was the most uncomfortable flight I've had in a long time.
That's bad to hear. Were were you seated?
Quoting Palmjet (Reply 3): Shame you were seated on the wrong side of the aircraft for spectacular views of central Brisbane (my hometown) when you arrived. If Rw 01 is in use, and you are seated on the port side of the aircraft, you ordinarily get great views of Brisbane from your seat.
Yes, the other side would have been better. It's always a gamble.
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1241 posts, RR: 14
Reply 5, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Hi PH - I was seated in Y, in the last Y section toward the rear of the cabin. The IFE box (for the non existent IFE) was really annoying. Cabin crew on that sector were also lacking in any kind of warmth. They were much nicer on the BKK-FRA sector, and that was on the MD11 - which I found much nicer and more comfortable, even though it was much older.
Loran From Germany, joined Jul 2005, 626 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Just saw that we coincidently were in BNE at the same time.
I arrived on a QF's A330 from HKG three days earlier than you, but departed on HS-TJD, also a non-ER 777-2D7 to BKK a week later. I flew Business which was a good product. Also, I see you arrived on one of the few days where it didn't rain in BNE.
I usually find Thai Airways very good, and I am more than happy to fly in a non-IFE equipped 747-400 with great pitch and without disturbing IFE-box under the seat (hate their A340-600 for that reason). To me pitch is due to my size the most important criteria. I have now been on most of TG's 777s, ER and non-ER and I prefer them over SQ's or QF's services down to Oz.
And of course, excellent report as always. Looking forward to more.
ba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8717 posts, RR: 53
Reply 9, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Nice start to your round the world series!
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): the presentation was very good and the portion was big - but the main course and the salad lacked quality. The steak was hard like a brick and the potatoes were quite dry - some more sauce would have been useful. I neither finished the meat nor the salad - the latter tasted very strange, who knows which kind of herbs contributed to that. The cake was okay, but couldn't make up for the other items. That meal was a big disappointment.
- I have to say all the food offerings look pretty decent, though it's a shame the taste or offering failed to live up to the looks.
akhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 52
Reply 11, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
I have been waiting for the first part of your RTW trip. Truly high quality installment. The title intrigued me though as I had high expectations of Thai. That's a pity indeed that you had to miss out your preferred meal choice twice. Though I would gladly accept stir fried chicken with Thai hom-mali rice.
I think I am spoilt nowadays. Despite the generous legroom in Y, I cannot survive on board of long-haul flight without any personal IFE system. In your case I would have chosen MH 744.
I have been in BKK before but during the pre-Suvarnabhumi period. Perhaps, it is about time to go back to Thailand.
Thanks for sharing and looking forward to the following segments.
phatfarmlines From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1424 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Quite a shocking TR to read such a low score from a carrier that goes above & beyond to meet customer in-flight expectations, even in coach class. Could it be because both flights were full and FA's were more occupied than on most occasions? I think TG, along with EK, have some of the best coach class meal presentations.
aflyingkiwi From New Zealand, joined Nov 2010, 517 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
What a pleasant surprise to see the first installment of the RTW series though It's disappointing how average TG were as I like you, always thought them to be a really good carrier.
The one thing that I'm most disappointed about is that they don't have AVOD on the 744's and 772's as I'm one of those people who probably couldn't survive without it on a long-haul flight. I guess we're lucky here in AKL as we get AVOD equipped 77E's from TG.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): After boarding had been completed, flight attendants offered hot towels and handed out menu cards as well as nicely packed headsets:
Good to see they still offer menu cards as those are getting rarer and rarer in Y
FlyKev From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2006, 1399 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW FORUM MODERATOR
A pleasure to read as always, thanks for sharing your report with us Planehunter.
I must comment, the interior of the Thai 744 does look very worn out; though less cramped than the 777 one. The legroom on the 744 however looks very good for Economy. As for the food, it looks a lot better in the pictures than you say it was - Also, it seems rare to see Steak in Economy.
I look forward to your next trip.
The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only
initious From Singapore, joined Dec 2008, 1077 posts, RR: 6
Reply 23, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
A wonderful rendition of your first part of your RTW series. Flown TG back in June 2010 in Business and found them wonderful, unfortunately they did not meet your expectations. They should be one of the few carriers without PTVs in Y class on the 777.
I'd avoid TG at all costs for long haul as I'm a PTV nut. Probably I'll stick to SQ for long haul Economy or maybe TG for long haul Business (if any). Probably you should have flown to CDG to try their 77W in Economy.
BNEFlyer From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 252 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (4 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
I couldn't imagine doing a Europe-Australia trip with no IFE! Unlucky you got a non-ER 772 as well. I flew BNE-BKK-BNE about 3 1/2 years ago and got the then new -ER's. Awesome aircraft, i'm 6'2 and had masses of leg room. The IFE was great and the food some of the best I've ever had in the air. Also the service was second to none. Sounds like things have slipped a bit on TG....
: Hi PlaneHunter, thanks for the trip report. Found it interesting as I just got back last week from SYD on TG via BKK to ZRH. I flew business on both l
: Hi Daniel, many thanks for your comments! Which type of aircraft did you have? Well, AF didn't show up in the list of possible options to BNE. But I
: Well you know this is just my impression and we know there are many people on A.net that really like TG. I used to fly J a lot and accumulated a lot o
: It will be interesting to see if TG can fight back with the new 77Ws and A380s. PH
: SIN-BKK on A330 (old recliner seats) BKK-PVG-BKK on A346 (1st gen lie flat) BKK-SIN on B77E (2nd gen lie flat, the best!) Well I was meaning to say T
: Interesting, thanks. It seems you don't find J class seat consistency on TG in these days. Ok, that would have been a nice bird. But going via CDG wo
: Hi PlaneHunterr! Excellent report with excellent pictures! Too bad the food was disappointing; it looks great, nice portions and nice type of food. To
: Hi Lars, thanks a lot for your comments! Must have been nice! Well, there's still some hope that these birds get retrofitted. Interesting, so it's no
: Hey interesting report , I have never flown TG, Im quite surprised they dont offer PTV's. The meal tray looks well presented but its always a pain whe
: Sorry if TG didn't impress you, I've traveled the route PER-HKT-BKK-OSL-BKK-PER with TG on 3 separate occasions this year, all 3 return flights have b
: Hi Phil, thanks for your feedback! Probably - but that's difficult to judge. That's nice to hear. Which kind of aircraft types did you have and where
: Hey PH, very nice one to start But such a shame you didn't get the experience you were hoping for. As some others have noted, service quality on Thai
: Hi PH, A nice opening to your RTW series and quite serious flying to start with! A shame that Thai disappointed you with pretty much anything - equipm
: Thanx for this excellent report Planehunter. Highly appreciated Sad to hear that your flights with Thai was not as positive as expected. I have flown
: Thanks for another excellent report PH. And finally this new and very-anticipated series arrives, and commences with another set of top quality photos
: Great report as usual. I've always had great legroom on the 772 - first row or one of the 2-seaters in the back. Industry standard 31-32" according to
: Nice TR! TG did seem average though I have never heard many people making tall claims about their service. FWIW, TG is a decent airline, which does no
: Hiya buddy. Nice to catch up with your travels with TG. Just shows a usually good carrier can be off the mark for some tastes. Love the colours of the
: I've been told by Thai friends that Thai Airways FAs are really good to you if you can speak Thai otherwise are rather... aloof. Partially due to lack
: Hi PH, I've been eagerly waiting for this series to start! Great report but it's a shame TG let you down. That's unacceptable.. You'd surely expect be
: The PER-HKT-BKK Legs were all in the A330-300, which has the AVOD IFE system, The BKK-OSL legs were either in the 777-200ER, A340-500 or the A340-600
: Excellent coverage of the begin of your trip around the world, PlaneHunter. It was –as usual– a pleasure to follow along your detailed explanation
: Hi PH. Yeah a little average I feel too. I dont know, TG seems to be really talking itself up, it still achieves the accolades and yet seess to often
: Hi Airpearl, many thanks for your feedback! Yes, I hope so, too. Keep trying to get it! I hope TG won't repaint it anytime soon. No doubts about that
: Hmmm, I am not sure. I thought it might even be a legal thing that if there is no available flight, a hotel must be provided. Well, QR were totally o
: Hi PH, TG reminds me in many ways of QF. Apart from the A380s, QF don't really have an updated international product, just like TG (old birds, no IFE,
: Hi PH finally my time came to reply on this report. Nicely written, accompanied by some good pics! Shame to hear that the meals you preferred were gon
: Nice trip report, thanks for sharing! I'm surprised that TG does not offer any kind of personal IFE on the 744 or 777, as you mentioned it did not mat
: Latest is the 12 refurbished will leave and the 6 newest built with old cabins currently will get AVOD and the works in all classes. But who knows wi
: Nice report! If I'm right, this statue is where pax go airside after immigration and security. TG did the same to me, according to EK TG517 was operat
: You flew economy class - how much of an impression were you expecting?
: I second that. On the other hand you should have stuck with LH on the sector to BKK, no IFE etc on the 744 but absolutely wonderful service!
: Well the norm is three hours before departure. So I guess you were running late! Well you were flying Thai after all. Were you not expecting the rati
: You are kidding... I'm not! I don't understand what the OP was expecting flying in Y. I'm totally perplexed and for the life of me cannot understand w
: Very good! Sounds interesting, you never cease to amaze me with your trip plans. Hi Pete, the QF A330-300s should have a modern interior - and all th
: Hello PlaneHunter, a good and solid TR, I really enjoyed the photos from TG and BKK. Just wondering what was it, that you felt so let down by TG? It i
: Hi Carsten, thanks for your comments! I have heard lots of praise about food, service and crews in general, but my flights weren't special at all. In