Here is my first attempt at a trip report. I hope people enjoy reading it.
I had to go to Greece urgently, so any seat was a good seat. I have been on Singapore Airlines and that was my preference, but nothing available. Nothing available on Olympic Airways, which disappointed me because I wanted to go on an A340. Alitalia would have meant transit in Milan, so the best option ended up being TG.
19 Oct 2000
Checked in about an hour and a half before departure time. Korean 777 was in next gate. Had reserved seat so ended up with 36C, very nice about 4th or 5th from start of economy. Noticed that the business class section had a partition that separated the aicraft in half, havent seen that before. EXCELLENT seat pitch in economy, significantly better than Qantas or Singapore. Leave gate 10 minutes late and taxi along Alpha to 34L threshold. Wait for landing 717 Impulse. Turned into runway and executed Richmond Two Departure, pretty smooth no turbulence.
Shortly after the seat belt signs were switched off, we were served nuts and a drink, pretty standard. Then the pilot came over the PA system, in all the Thai flights the captains spoke very little, and focused on the technical aspects eg, weather at destination, time etc. Every announcement is in Thai first, which I thought was a good thing, SQ says everything in English.
Had chicken for dinner, which was very nice. The food is excellent on Thai and the fa's come around offering extra bread, wine or cognac. The wet hot towels done beforehand as well. Then three movies were shown, the screen is a little tardy but its adequate. Their inflight video magazine is a little pedestrian.
Arrived in Bangkok before schedule even though the flight was delayed. Landing was at night so couldnt see much, but no crosswinds or rough stuff to speak of.
BANGKOK - ATHENS
Don Muang airport is horrible. I cant stand it. Its stinking hot and humid, and looks very dated in some parts. Limited shopping opportunities in comparison to Changi, and a long walk from the Thai terminal to the good duty free shops.
The worst part of flying with Thai is that the vast majority of flights to continental Europe (I think all) depart from Gates 1-6 at Don Muang. These are the downstairs gates, where there is no climate control and you feel as if you're in a third world airport. Its really bad. You are then bussed to the aircraft, which I find quite unacceptable for an airline like Thai. Also, many of the European flights leave around the same time, so it gets pretty crowded.
At least the bus to the plane gives you a chance to see the tarmac and other aircraft. Was very interested to see a Thai A330 in maintenace in a giant hangar, and my flights was parked next to an EL-AL 747-200. Another good thing with the buses is that you get an idea of how huge the planes are, and the engines as well. Good if you like aviation photography.
The flight was relatively uneventful. Thai gives you a nice menu, and their publication lists the movies that are shown on the relevant routes. The aircraft was only about 3/4 full, so it was pretty roomy and pleasant. However, dont go for row 42, because it doesnt have a window. I asked for the rego of the aicraft and the fa told me she would get back to me, she never did. Had to do a bit of squinting in Athens. On the flight from Sydney, the fa was very helpful in finding out for me. Just goes to show, it depends whos working on your flight.
Arrived in Athens before schedule. Beautiful landing, hardly any reverse thrust. We were early so Athens didnt have a "park" for us, there are no gates there. Very poor, but Im Greek so I chuckled at it. We had to wait in the plane for an hour.
ATHENS - DON MUANG
24 Oct 2000
Departed Athens in one of the most involved departure sequnces Ive been in. There were military excercises going on over the Aegean so we took off to the west, turned to the south and then sharply turned over the airport. Then turned to the northeast. For some reason, and Im not technically minded enough to know, this flight flew over Georgia, Afghanistan and then down into Thailand. Normally the flights to Europe dont take this route, but again we arrived ahead of schedule.
Unfortunately for me, the same movies were showing. I cant be too critical since I was in Greece for a very short period, in fact I was flying back with some of the same crew. About 10 minutes from the flight there was a very strange noise, everyone was unstirred but I know what a 747 is meant to sound like. I told a senior flight attendant and he discreetly agreed and checked it out. Luckily, it was the PA system being left on and the static coming from it. It didnt sound good though.
The rest of the flight was pretty routine, a lot of fellow Australians on board which was quite good, Thai and SQ are basically the only major airlines that can fly you "directly" from Australian. (in so far as there is a seemelss transfer) QF used to fly there but they gave it up and now just operate their rust bucket 747-300's to Rome. I love QF, but those planes look like used cars. Gulf Air isnt in the same category as QF or TG, and with Emirates you need to make an extra stop in Dubai.
All I can say is wow! I stepped into that aircraft and it is so striking. Everything seems so new and improved, and it is so long. It even has a phone booth. I was in Row 70, and there were still heaps of rows behind me. I was that far back because Thai's facilities in Athens dont allow you to get your boarding pass from the original destination, which was a big cross against them for me. The last thing you want to do in the middle of a 22 hour marathon is to negotiate the Transfer Desk in Bangkok and get yourself the boaring pass. I wasnt impressed.
The other blemish against Thai was that my seat was broken. The seats on the 777 are excellent, and when you recline them the base also moves, its very good. But for mine, the bottom of the seat was moving outwards and exposing the metal underneath. I politely alerted a flight attendant who said she would try and find me another seat even though the flight was full. Before take off she offered me one on the 3rd last row from back, which I refused and stuck with the seat I had. I was a little disappointed with her efforts since she really didnt look at how damaged the seat was. In any event, Im not one for the whinging and the seat was good enough.
The take off was amazing. The sound of the engines is very different from a 744, and the way they push you back is amazing. Shortly after take off power was noticeable reduced to stay under the 250 under 10000ft requirement, more noticeably than Ive ever experienced. The flight was pretty good, the same standard as the others. That is one thing about Thai I noticed, they are very consistent. This is quite admirable.
Landed around 9oclock in Sydney on 34L. Got a good view of the entire city, Im not an expert but I think we came in via Glendfield, or around there anyway ( sorry). Taxid to the gate, with Lauda just departing and Emirates there too.
All in all, i had a really pleasant experience on Thai. The service is very good, and they seem an honest airline that tries hard. However, comparing them with Singapore Airlines is not a good idea, because SQ is in another league. That has been my experience anyway. But Thai is up there with the best of the rest, and I never found myself complaining about the service, or wanting something and not getting it. If PTV's are a major issue for you, then you may get frustrated. But to tell you the truth, no PTV's meant that i actually felt like Id been in an airctaft, and on a flight with other people. It makes you interact more.
I hope you enjoyed reading my (excessively long) trip report as much as Ive enjoyed reading other peoples contribtions. Id love to hear more.