TG 620 Bangkok to Manila
14A, Royal Orchid Class
B777-200 (HS-TJA) Lamphun
Scheduled Dep. Time: 11:10
Actual Dep. Time: 11:27
Scheduled Arr. Time: 15:25
Actual Arr. Time: 15:31
I arrived at Don Muang Intl. at about 10 am for the 11:10 flight. I immideatley noticed the airport was quite busy at this time of the day with the tarmac looking very busy from outside. My view was only further confirmed upon going inside the airport terminal. There were huge crowds at each of the check in rows, and there was a huge line for security checks before check in as well. I have flown this flight tons of times but never felt the airport to be as busy as that day. Anyway, after about a fifteen minute wait to get to a free check in desk, I was finally serviced by a very sweet check in agent. She was very nice and always maintained a smile. I needed a hearing aid to hear what she was saying as her voice was so soft. I asked if the flight was full, and she said that J class was full and there were several over bookings in Y. After check in I proceeded to pay the airport tax and then onto immigration. Long lines and disgruntled immigration officers as usual. Gate 11 was assigned to me which meant a long walk to one end of the airport. I noticed that whenever I fly a 777 on TG its always parked in the early gates. By the time I had cleared immigration it was already 10:45 and apparently boarding was underway so I skipped the Royal Orchid lounge (not like I missed much anyway) and headed straight for the gate. Upon arriving I found that there was no one left in the holding area and boarded immediately through door 2L. A beautiful stewardess welcomed me onboard with “Sawasdee Kaa” and showed me to my seat. A quick peek into economy showed that the aircraft was full to the brim, mostly with Japanese passengers who were probably going to continue on to Osaka from Manila.
Walked into the J class cabin, configured 2-4-2, and nestled into my window seat. My neighbor was a 9 year old girl traveling all by herself. An FA came and offered a hot towel and a glass of OJ which I took. She then said that this brave girl is traveling all by herself for the first time looking at me. She obviously wanted me to keep her company so I tried my best, as bad as I am with kids. Before take off I just talked to her about what grade she was in, if she liked her teachers…etc. The plane pushed back at 11:27 am after a wait for transit passengers. The new safety demo was played as we taxied for the runway. I noticed that the overhead bins were shaking quite a bit during our taxi. Hadn’t noticed this on any of my other 777 flights. The FAs came around for a last seatbelt check before take off and off we went. About 10 minutes after take off, an FA came out of the galley and was taking orders for brunch…I could swear that she was the really pretty FA in the old TG safety demos…then to my further surprise…another FA came around offering peanuts…and she was the other FA in the safety demo!! I thought those people they use for demos didn’t really work for the airline but were just cover girls. I could really swear to god that those two were working on this flight. Anyway…the FA came up to me with a smile and asked me what I wanted for brunch. The choices were:
Fresh Fruits and Fruit Yoghurt
Fried Noodles with Prawn and Vegetables
Plain Omelet, Pork Sausage, Vegetables
Roll, Croissant, Danish Pastries, Assorted Biscuits, Cheese, Butter, Jam
Tea, Coffee, Green Tea
I chose the noodles with prawn which proved to be excellent. The FA then turned to the girl sitting beside me and spent a bit extra time with her kneeling down to talk to her and make her feel comfortable. The other FA then came around with the warm bowl of peanuts that she handed out individually to each passenger. Nice change from the usual peanuts in the packets. I pulled out my PTV to see what was being shown, and I must say that what was on offer wasn’t too good at all. The movies on feature were John Q. and Panic Room. Another channel had short features such as Mr. Bean and whose line is it anyway. The other channel had some discovery documentary and the remaining two channels aired the flight path and some TG adverts and promotions as well as tips on how to avoid DVT etc. A total of six channels made it look pretty pale in comparison to SQ’s Krisworld or CX’s Studio CX. As I was eating the peanuts an FA rolled over a cart of drinks. I asked for an ice tea. At first she was a bit perplexed with what I was asking, then promptly served me cold barley water. Didn’t bother making an issue out of it…just drank the barley water. Another FA came with a smile and laid out linens for the meal. The crew then rolled another trolley out with all the trays and handed them out to passengers. A bowl of very fresh looking fruits and some creamy yoghurt (didn’t look like mass produced yoghurt) with nuts inside were already on the tray. As I dug in I found the cold fruits and yoghurt to be very sweet and refreshing. After I was done with the fruits and yoghurt, it was collected and the noodles with prawn was brought over. It looked absolutely delicious and it was. The servings were more than generous and the meal was served in an actual dish, not those rectangular airplane dishes I had on the way out. It looked very good. The FAs were constantly roaming about the cabin offering tea or coffee or wine. When she noticed that I had finished my meal she asked if I liked it and I responded with a big yes. She asked if I wanted some more and I was delighted to see another plate full of noodles arrive a couple of minutes later. Very surprising, seeing that the flight was absolutely full. As I was finishing my second portion of the noodles, the FAs came around with a basket full of pastries, Croissants, and biscuits. They came around several times, after refilling the baskets in the galley. After all that, a cart laid with dark red linens was rolled out and a big bowl with all these fruits in them was offered. There was a huge array of fruits on offer and they were quite tastefully presented with a big glass Thai logo as the center piece on the cart. The appearance looked very good. Had some already cut Mongostens (I love those!) and some chilled mangos and pineapples in a little frosted bowl. By the time they came around for a second helping of fruits, I was really stuffed and declined. By the time the FAs cleared the tables were about 55 minutes out of MNL. The FAs then handed out the immigration forms out for MNL and disappeared into the galley for some much deserved rest. As I went to the lavatory to freshen up before landing, I noticed that the FAs were not resting at all…they were busily stowing away all the serving platters, spoons, forks and what not into the different compartments before landing. They must have been quite tired at the end of the flight because they really had worked nonstop during the flight. Poor FAs had another 4 hour hop to Kansai before they could rest! At about 15:00 sharp we commenced our descent into Manila Intl. The skies looked quite littered with dark storm clouds and the captain had warned to turbulence on approach. He delivered. The plane started bouncing all over the place, swaying from side to side. The poor FAs had a hard time going around distributing hot towels and collecting the headsets. The little girl sitting next to me got scared and started crying. I tried to pacify her, to no avail. An FA then came to her and consoled her saying its ok…isn’t it fun?...like rollercoaster!...come sit with us in the cockpit! I was thinking to myself…damn!...I should have been the one crying…hehe…ok maybe not…but she got a visit to the flight deck for landing!...the FA took her stuff and led her to the cockpit holding her hands. The FAs then handed out a little pink pouch with TG’s logo on it. Inside was a pack of cards, a plastic pen (like the one the FAs have) and a TG key chain. I was surprised as I had never gotten gifts like that before in recent times. They also handed out orchids to everyone. We made a smooth as silk landing at 15:31 pm local time and docked at gate 10. The FAs all were smiling gleefully thanking us and saying goodbye at the door as I walked out to dozens of TG staff at the gate area.
This flight was absolutely brilliant. One of the best TG flights I had ever been on. Never got offered seconds on TG and the way they presented their meals that day was just excellent. The way they presented the fruits and peanuts were all new to me on TG. The FAs were just perfect too. They seem to do their job very well and efficiently but keeping a nice warmth with the passengers saying “enjoy your meal” or “good choice”. They actually sounded sincere. The FAs also smiled and were very graceful throughout the flight, and the two FAs (that were featured in the old safety demo) were absolutely stunning and very nice as well. The crew were also very professional with my nervous neighbor, coming to check on her throughout the flight. I was thinking to myself, if this is TG’s new way of service, I’ll be flying them much more often. But as I was walking through to immigration, my friend who had come to pick me up said that the minister of aviation of Thailand was on my flight and was paying a brief one day visit to Manila to discuss aviation ties between MNL and BKK. Maybe that’s why the flight was so good. But I didn’t see the FAs being overly nice to one particular pax, and the majority of the pax were foreigners and businessmen. Overall, I would rate this trip 10/10.