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Thai Airway BKK - LHR

Tue Sep 25, 2001 10:36 am

Just come across this site - thought you might be interested in a flight I took a couple of years ago.

It was from Bangkok - London Heathrow on Thai Airways, economy class. It was the day flight to London departing, as I recall, around 1100hrs.

I have flown between London and Southeast Asia many times, and rate Thai Airways very highly, so I was looking forward to the flight very much.

The flight departed on time, and I settled down to enjoy the famous TG hospitality. The flight was only about 60% full, so there was lots of room to move around.

Everything was proceeding smoothly, until about 7 hours into the flight when I noticed that it had begun to get dark. This shouldn't have been happening, as it was a day flight, and we should have been in daylight for the duration of the flight. I was about to ask a FA what was going on, when the captain came on the tannoy. He explained that we'd lost the number 3 engine and a decision had been made to return to Bangkok.....and that in fact we'd already turned round and were only 3 hours away from BKK.

The passengers greeted this news with a mixture of resigned good humour and frustration - with many people asking why the Captain took the decision to turn round rather than proceed to LHR.....but none of the FAs knew.

Anyway, we got back to BKK at around 2330, where we were greeted by a reasonably efficient TG ground service operation. We were bussed to a downtown hotel, and told to be waiting at the lobby at 0500 the next morning to be taken back to Don Muang airport, ready for an 0700 departure.

The next morning we took off at the (re)-scheduled time of 0700, and everyone on board was looking forward to a smooth flight home.

The flight was great - the FAs obviously trying to give the best service possible to make up for the delay. But then.......we were about 8 hours into the flight when I noticed that we had started to descend.

The captain came on the tannoy to announce the rather disturbing news that we had a big problem with Russian had refiled a flight path for the delayed flight, and as a result Russian ATC was refusing to recognise us as a legitimate commercial flight, and was insisting that we land at Moscow. The Captain said that he was talking to ATC, trying to persuade them we were a legitimate flight that had simply been delayed.

Unfortunately, his negotiations failed and we continued our descent until we landed at Moscow! (during the descent there was much talk of Korean Air 007).

We taxi-ed to a far corner of the airport, where there were numerous uniformed heavies waiting to greet us. They attached some stairs to the plane, came on board, and took away the Captain and First Office. The Chief FA explained that they'd gone to try and get us out of this situation.

An hour passed. Then another. And another. The FAs were dishing out water and juices, trying to keep the passengers as happy as possible. As I mentioned earlier the flight wasn't that full, so we could move around quite freely....if it had been full I think tempers would have started to fray.

I was enjoying myself.....the best part was standing on top of the aircraft steps taking in the view of Moscow airport.

After around 3.5 hours the captain came back - over the tannoy he explained that he'd paid a landing fee, refiled a flight path, and that we'd be underway very shortly. That indeed happened, we took off without incident...and landed at LHR a few hours later, around 27 hours behind schedule.

The next morning I called Thai Airways to see if they might be offering compensation - I could accept the mechanical delay, but the delay from the un-filed flight plan was not accpetable (even though I enjoyed the whole experience, I wanted to see how Thai would try and retain customer loyalty).

The customer service representative suggested that I should claim on my travel insurance for any delay, because the airline was not obligated to give any money. However, she went on to explain that TG would be in touch in the future with some sort of offer. About a week later a letter arrived offering 250 pounds if I was willing to sign a letter saying that I wouldn't pursue them for any further claims. The impression I got from the letter was that the £250 was an opening offer.....but as I was moving to Singapore shortly I couldn't be bothered taking it further, so I accepted the cash.

I was more than satisfied....I had enjoyed an unusual airline experience, and was given half of the cost of my airticket as an added bonus!

Two questions though.....

1. Why did the Captain decide to return to BKK, rather than proceed to LHR?

2. How can a flight proceed without filing a flight plan?
Posts: 557
Joined: Wed May 03, 2000 3:08 pm

RE: Thai Airway BKK - LHR

Tue Sep 25, 2001 5:55 pm

Hey, nice trip report. It is very curious what is happen to your flight in Russia. But this is quite a special country, I think they just needed money so they can arrange almost everything when they get money.
Posts: 6081
Joined: Thu May 03, 2001 5:19 pm

RE: Thai Airway BKK - LHR

Tue Sep 25, 2001 7:46 pm

Hmm.. Not sure about the return, but if you think about it, it requires a bit of maneuvring to fly with 3 engines. Especially since you either have to:
a) reduce thrust on engine 1 and 2
b) fly in an odd shape (kinda difficult to explain)

Both of them would result in a drastic loss of performance, looking at the time etc. I'd say that you must have been halfway before the captain turned around (or, as I said above you'd lost speed due to lower thrust on eng 1 and 2), so you could have been 5 hours into the flight, yet it could have taken you 7 hours to get the other way.

Now, as to wh you turned around: Since Russia has a rather deserted area almost all the way to Moscow, with very few airfields inbetween that are able to handle 747's, it would have made most sense to turn around. Had he been closer to Moscow, I'm pretty sure that he would have landed there instead (but seing your later reception, well, then again maybe not!).

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