Thai Airways TG 624 (J class)
Departure Time: 15:00 (actual departure time: 14:54)
Arrival Time: 19:20 (actual arrival time: 19:17)
I arrived at Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport at 13:30 for the flight. There was a big crowd at the terminal as usual. I proceeded to check in row seven as that was the only check in row that was not filled with people. Check in was swift, with the check in clerk seeming a bit rude at times. She gave me my seat, 22A for my three-hour flight into Manila. I had asked if the flight was full, and requested that the seat next to me be left empty as much as possible. She then said abruptly that the flight was not full, but not empty either, and that she couldn’t promise anything. She then gave me a pass for the Royal Executive Lounge. After immigration, I proceeded to the far corner of the airport to the lounge. I had about thirty minutes before boarding time, so I made use of their VERY sparse computer systems. Thai Airways still has a long way to come in terms of competing with SIA’s superb Raffles Class lounge at Changi International. I passed on some of the stale Danish pastries available at the lounge. They then called for the flight at 14:30. I went to gate 23 for boarding. It turned out most people had already boarded. Interestingly enough, they were only using the second door on the A300 instead of both doors. Would anyone know why? Anyway, the Air Bridge was very crowded, and by the time I got to the door it was already 14:40. I was greeted by a charming chief flight attendant, sporting Thai Airways’ female ground uniform (rather than the traditional Thai costumes that are worn by all the other cabin crew). She directed me to the very tired looking Royal Orchid cabin of this aging A300. It has been a long time since I last flew on a TG A300, that being about two years ago when I flew from Bangkok to Kathmandu. Since then, I have been a frequent flyer on Thai’s B747s, A330s, MD11s, and 777s, though I have yet to fly on TG’s 777-300. I didn’t remember the cabin looking so worn out. I definitely think its time for TG to start looking for replacements for their A300s. I was on the second to last row o the cabin. The cabin was configured in the standard 2-2-2 layout. Oddly, the first row of the plane was row 15. I found the J class leg room to be lacking, and seat recline to be almost pathetic. However, the exceptional service of Thai compensates for that.
The moment I took my seat, a flight attendant came rushing to offer me a glass of juice or champagne. Few moments after she left, another crew member approached me with hot towels. The crew then handed out menus for dinner. The choices were:
Smoked Chicken Thai Style
Pork Curry “Pa-Naeng”
Steamed Hom Mali rice
Shrimps and Scallops in Champagne Basil Sauce
Cheese and Biscuits
Tea, Coffee, Green Tea, Espresso, Cappuccino
I opted for the Pork curry which was truly excellent. Anyway, more of that later.
We pushed back from the gate at 14:54 and started our take off roll at about 15:03. We waited for an SAA B747-200 to take off before us and a Singapore Airlines B747-400, Thai Airways B737-400, Turkish Airlines A340 and Vietnam Airlines A320 to land before we took off. We rolled about one fourth down the runway before lifting off. We then banked to the left and fixed on course to Manila. Captain Baroncharoen then came on the PA and dictated that our cruising altitude would 35,000 feet and our flight path to Manila would bring us South East out of Bangkok, through Vietnam, out to the South China Sea, over the Spratly Islands and straight into Manila Bay and into Ninoy Aquino Intl.
Shortly after the Captain’s announcement, the F/As rolled out a cart of cocktail and soft drinks. They then brought out table cloths and trays with the salad already on them. The overall food service was excellent. The pork was very good. I was actually surprised at the quantity Thai Airways gave. Quite filling. The crew then came out and offered fruits, biscuits and cheese. At the end they brought out the Coconut Flan which was mediocre. After that they dimmed the lights and I basically sat and watched the sun set over the South China Sea.
Thai has to improve on their on board entertainment. No PTVs on the aircraft, but a small projection screen in the front of the plane. I don’t know if Thai doesn’t load the month’s new entertainment system on their older aircraft, as the movie shown on the flight was Bridget Jone’s Diary, a movie that wasn’t even listed in the Sawasdee in flight magazine. The movie was also quite outdated by the time I flew which was on the 9th of October. The music system loaded on to the aircraft was not in the magazine as well with less than half of the channels available.
We started our descent into Ninoy Aquino Intl. Airport at 18:57 pm local time and landed from the east at 19:17 pm, three minutes ahead of schedule. We taxied out and docked straight into gate 10, the usual gate of Thai Airways. As we were taxiing, a Lufthansa B747-400 from Frankfurt and Bangkok (flight LHH 744) landed. We saw an array of airliners during our short taxi to the gate. Among some of the airplanes spotted were A Cathay Pacific B747-400, Air Niugini A310, Qantas B747SP, China Southern A320, and a Royal Brunei B767.
We deplaned at 19:22 and I was out of the airport by 20:00. Not bad for Manila. Overall the trip was good, though it did have some minor setbacks. Thai must improve on more of the technical aspects of their service such as entertainment and their cabin. It will definitely improve their overall product immensely. But Thai was able to keep up to par the legendary crew and food service they are so proud and famous for.
Overall trip rating: 90/100