Thai Airways International
This is my first MD-11 flight. I changed my trip plan from TG991 (served by 747-400) to this flight specifically just to get a chance to fly this aircraft type.
I arrived at the airport about 2 hours prior to departure time and the check-in counters for business and first class were all empty. The check-in was quick and I was being served quite well. As a business class passenger with Royal Orchid Plus Gold status, a ground hostess would accompany me through the immigration to the Royal Executive Class lounge.
I went to the lounge near gate 14. The lounge has recently been upgraded which provide more capacity and a better bar area. However, I found that although the overall quality of this lounge is good, the lighting is way too bright. For transit passenger who want to take a short nap, this would be a problem. It'd be great if THAI will provide a quiet, dimmed section of this lounge for the passengers who prefer it.
I was called to board at about 7.50AM. The equipment today is HS-TMG. On the MD-11, the door 2L is just forward of the business class section. Therefore, the boarding sequence was first, economy then business which is a good idea since I don't want to sit in my seat while hundreds of other passengers with massive carry-ons walked pass and bumped to my shoulder. Once the door was closed, I moved from my seat at 11B to 11F on the bulkhead because 11B is and exit row seat and, without a foot rest, is not quite comfortable. Before pushback, I was served with a choice of orange juice and champagne then hot towel was offered.
The flight took off at about 8.20AM with only 1 passenger in first class, 2 seats empty in business class, and almost full economy class.
The take off was powerful and I felt that MD-11 gives more feeling of thrust than the 747's. The aircraft interior is showing its age but clean. The seat configuration is THAI's old configuration with 40" seat pitch and very simple business class seats. There is no PTV, no foot rest, no gadgets to play with. It's such a pity that THAI is so slow on the aircraft upgrade program. I also doubt that these 4 MD-11 may never be upgraded at all since they're all near retirement age.
The overall service on this flight was great and the food was perfect. The breakfast was served shortly after the aircraft reached the cruising altitude. I chose Dim Sum which was good.
After breakfast, the light was dimmed and shades closed to allow passengers to rest. They showed 2 movies on the main screen. During the movies, the flight attendants walked through the cabin frequently to offer drinks to the passengers. The Video Walkman units were also offered for the passengers who didn't like the main screen movie. There were 20 movies to choose from. I found that this is an acceptable interim solution until they manage to get PTV's installed on all their aircrafts. The F/A also kept the cabin in a good shape all the times. The restrooms are cleaned and replenished very frequently.
At about 4 hours into the flight, the F/A came out to offer fruits and sherbets to the passengers who wanted some snack. A bowl of instant noodle (big bowl!) was also available on request.
About 2 hours before landing they turned the lights back on and offered drinks and hot towel again. The dinner then followed starting with a snack (Thai styled herb sausage "Sai Oua"), seafood plate, then the choice of 4 main course, fruits and cheese platter, then finally coffer/tea/liqure and dessert. The portion was more than enough!
The flight landed at SYD at 8.50PM, 10 minutes earlier than schedule.
Overall, I'm quite satisfied with this flight. The lack of PTV's and other gadgets are not as bad as I thought at all! Maybe PTV's are way too overhyped by the marketing people. I find that the great service of the cabin crew made a big difference to my satisfaction. I recently flew on UA's international first class with its flat bed sky suite which is 10 times better than THAI's seat but the food and service was not up to par with THAI's business class. I would recommend THAI to anyone without reservation. That's not because I'm Thai but because of their great Royal Orchid service.
One thing I note, though, is that during the landing, they did not dim the light as it should. The F/A who sit at door 2R jump seat also didn't bother to wear the shoulder harnesses either which is not good if we encounter any accident on landing. That F/A would probably injured and unable to help the passengers. I wish the cabin crew pay more attention to safety procedure. I'll send the comment to THAI's management about this.