After responses for my outbound trip, I decided to do a trip report for the return flight. After spending 4 days in Bangalore India, I left the hotel in a chauffeur driven BMW to the airport. I left the Leela Palace hotel at about 9pm, for the 10:30 flight to Bangkok. Once I arrived at the airport, there was a huge crowd of people outside awaiting the arrival of passengers from SIN and BKK. I headed upstairs to the check in area after having my tickets inspected. But first they made me scan my luggage even though I only had carry-ons. I headed over to the executive counter at Thai Airways. It was completely empty there. The SQ flight was completely full, but TG was empty apparently. After a little bit of confusion upon check in I went to immigration and customs for departure. I had my passport checked and customs for taken from me. I then proceeded to security. In India the security is quite awkward. They make you go through a metal detector, and even if it doesn't go off, they hand search you as well. They also checked my passport and ticket again.
Flight TG 326 A300 B4
Dep: 10:30pm Arr: 3:50am
C-class seat 14E
When I arrived at the gate, there were a number of people together. There are no lounges in BLR, so TG gave me a coupon for a free snack and drink at the cafe. I was a little tired, so I didn't use them. Boarding began sharply at 10:00pm although there was no boarding announcement. The departure monitors just changed to boarding, so everyone got up. I walked down the jetway and had 2 more people check my passport and ticket. In total 7 different people had inspected my ticket and/or passport in India. As I got on the plane, I was greeted kindly by the TG flight attendants and had a seat. I had some orange juice prior to departure. The flight attendants also came and passed out menus and gifts for the queen's birthday. It was a nice polo shirt that came wrapped in a gift bag. It was a nice thought. We pushed back on time, and then we were off.
The climb out was smooth. This was my first flight on an A300, so it was a good experience. Although I was a little worried about the age of the airplane, it was in good working order. The cabin was spotless, and the FAs were very attentive. They handed out pillows and blankets as well. The only drawbacks were the horrible seats. The seat pitch was very poor, and the seats overall were not comfortable. There were no leg rests, and recline was bad. I would have expected more on a widebody international flight, but the flight was only 3:20 long. Domestic first class seats in the United States are better. However the cabin was empty so I had some extra space to myself. Of 36 seats in Executive class, only 8 were taken. Economy was also sparsely packed.
I quickly tried to get some sleep and skipped the dinner service. I awoke with an announcement from the captain that we were beginning decent into BKK. The flight was short. I noticed that the female FAs had changed their clothes during the flights. They went from traditional Asian attire, to modern western FA uniforms. They gave me water and a hot towel on decent, as well as an orchid. All of the executive class passengers received orchids, which was a nice though. Landing went smoothly, and we taxied to out gate and arrived at 3:33am which was 17 minutes early. Overall the service that the crew offered was amazing, but the seats let me down and caused me to consider it only an average flight. TG is good, but the seats in its premium cabins need improvement.
I exited the plane first, and walked the 700 meters to the United Red Carpet Club for my onward flight. The BKK airport is not very user friendly. Also, everything was closed because my flight arrived so early in the morning. When I got to the Red Carpet Club I found out that it didn't open until 4am, so I spent a few minutes walking about the duty free shops (which were in plentiful supply). I went into the club, and the agent asked for my passport and itinerary. I gave her my E-Ticket and passport and took a seat. 10 minutes later she came over to me with an immigration official. She gave me my boarding passes all the way to SEA and the immigration official inspected them. Unfortunately the official didn't understand what an E-Ticket was, and took a while to go through the paperwork. She eventually completed her inspection, and I took a nap on the couch in the club for a couple hours. The club was rather small, but wasn't crowded since UA only has one morning flight from BKK. There were some small and stale snacks in the first class section and plenty to drink.
Flight UA 838 BKK-NRT
Dep: 7:00am Arr: 3:10pm
F-Class Seat: 3J B744
I left the Red Carpet Club at 6:05 am to go to the gate (36). It was a quick walk, but there was a lengthy line for security. After passing through the first security, I went to the gate where they inspected passports and security again, before being put into a roped off quarantine area with the 300+ other passengers. I then noticed that our flight was marked as delayed, but the new departure time was 6:50, which was 10 minutes early.
I then boarded the plane and took my seat. The FAs offered newspapers and drinks along with menus. We then pushed back at 6:50 for an early departure onto NRT. We took off smoothly and climbed up to 34,000 ft. The FAs then took orders for breakfast. The choices were:
omelet with salsa
Scrambled eggs with sausage/bacon
I had pancakes and cereal. It was a good meal, which was much appreciated, because I had not eaten since I had left Bangalore India. It was serviced on white linen and was preceded by hot towels. They also served it with the small carts in 3 courses. Cereal and yogurt followed by an entree and finally desert of a marzipan brownie and fruit tart. It was an excellent service from a very good flight crew.
I then relaxed and watched a couple movies on the IFE system. The IFE was great on the 744. There was an inseat cassette player and movies available for first class passengers. It made the 5:30 flight go by quickly. The service was very good on the plane. The flight attendants were an international all white crew of varied ages. It was a little surprising since usually UA uses NRT based Japanese crews on flights within Asia. The plane was clean, and in good working order. Everything on the flight went smoothly, however there were no extra amenities packs or things in the lavatory since it was a short international flight. The service was minimal compared to ANA's service on the route.
We were given a small lunch just before arrival. The choices were smoked salmon or spaghetti. I had the spaghetti and it was just served on a tray with bread. There was nothing else to accompany it, which was much different than the full course breakfast.
Landing was smooth and on time. We taxied over to a remote stand and disembarked via stairs. There was a private bus for the 14 first class passengers. Overall it was a good flight with good service, but nothing spectacular.
Upon arriving at the terminal, I went through the transfer security point and then proceed to the first class lounge. As the flight from BKK is one of the later arriving planes, the lounge was quite full when I arrived. I took a seat by the CNN television and relaxed. I requested a shower key, but the agent said they were all in use, but she would bring me a key as soon as one was available. She later came by with the key and I took a shower. The showers were very nice an comfortable. Their larger size makes them more relaxing. After a shower I quickly checked my email on the free computers. I then headed to the gate (25) for departure.
UA 875 NRT-SEA
Dep: 5:25 Arr: 10:00
F-Class Seat: 2J B777
I arrived at the gate and they just started to board first and business class. I went down the gate and was greeted by the purser. I then took my seat and asked for some tonic water. The purser then came by with menus, amenity kits and head phones while saying "thank you for flying United Airlines, we appreciate your business". She was trying very hard to provide as much service as possible. Also she came on the intercom and explained the movie selections for first class and then took requests for movies and worked out a plan so that everyone could watch their top two choices during the flight. Personally I think she was trying a little to hard.
The plane was only equipped with 10 first class seats as opposed to the 12 on other planes in the fleet. The cabin was full (as were all of the Asian UA flights I had been on). After boarding the pilot came on and asked people to be seated quickly because we would need to leave as quickly as possible because the flight time (8:35) was longer than normal and we would likely arrive late. The flight attendants hurried to get the cabin ready and we departed on time.
Take off was smooth, and I relaxed a bit before dinner. I had lemon chicken for dinner (other options were steak, salmon, and Japanese Obento). First we were given warm nuts. Then the FA offered more warm nuts. Next was an appetizer, which I refused. Then salad with creamy Caesar or sesame dressing along with scallops. Finally dinner came and was very good. They offered choices of vegetables to accompany the main course, which was nice. After the main course was dessert, which was ice cream sundaes or an Asian cake.
After dinner I immediately went to sleep. The first suite that UA offers is perfect for sleeping. Very comfortable and at 5'-11'', I had plenty of space to move around in it. Also the shell around your head and the consul which you insert your feet into provides for privacy. Some people do not like the console in front of the seat, where you plance your legs, but I found it more than comfortable. My favorite feature was the arm rest that lowered, so that you could easily get out of the seat without adjusting it.
I slept through breakfast and awoke with the seat belt sign coming on as we had already began our decent. The captain came over the intercom apologizing for us arriving 10 minutes late. (I was surprised that we arrived late due to flight time because UA usually pads their schedules quite generously). The FA gave me a bottle of water and I returned my seat to normal. We landed smoothly on 16R and proceeded to the south satellite for arrival. Unfortunately there are only single jet bridges at the south satellite. The purser told the F-Cabin that we would have to disembark through door two and that they would try to hold the economy and business class passengers back, but that it is difficult sometimes, and apologized for any extra delays.
Customs and immigration were quick (as always in SEA), and I was out of the airport within 10 minutes of landing in a taxi on my way home.
Overall this long journey was made pleasant by good service. TG had spotless interiors and incredible crews, but the seats were bad. UA was the opposite with poorly cleaned interiors, older FAs but superior seats. If I was to fly across the Pacific again, I would choose UA over TG for the long haul sectors. However the transition between the two star carriers is easy, so I enjoyed the experience.
[Edited 2004-08-15 00:24:53]