Lufthansa747
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Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Sun Apr 10, 2005 4:48 pm

I flew on the first commercial flight of the new Thai Airways International A340-500 this morning, and here's the report. I had been looking at the schedules of the ever since they announced that it will be used for regional routes in April. Since I'm staying in Thailand for a month, I was glad to see some domestic routes popping up later. Initially, the first flight was scheduled to be TG 201 Bangkok-Phuket on 10APR, but it was later changed to TG 921 an hour later the same morning. TG 201 changed to A300 first and eventually was operated by a 737-400. I booked full fare business class on the website, thus no problems changing the ticket.

10 April 2005
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) - Phuket International (HKT/VTSP)
Thai Airways International TG 921
Airbus Industrie A340-541
HS-TLA "Chiang Kham"
0800-0920 (0820-0935)
Premium Economy, Seat 34A


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Photo © French Frogs AirSlides
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Photo © French Frogs AirSlides


I had to wake up at 6am - wondering why on the earth I had consumed too many bottles of Beer Chang the night before again. A quick ride to Don Muang from Sukhumvit Soi 11, and I was again in the hustle and bustle of the domestic terminal. Fearing the worst, i.e. A300-600, I was one happy camper when the check-in agent confirmed that the flight will indeed be operated by the new Airbus. However, I was informed that they have some problems with the new Royal Silk Class seats and they'd need to downgrade me if I want to get on this flight. Another option was escorting me to the B737 leaving in 2 minutes as it had business class. Not a very tough choice really! With a boarding pass in hand and bag priority tagged to HKT, I headed to the lounge where somebody would contact me about the downgrading compensation.

The domestic lounge has new tableware - the kind used on the new international lounges as well. Drinks are also self service nowadays, and a new buffet area has been set up in the corner opposite the old drink ordering desk. The lounge was quite empty this morning, and soon some guru in a suit approached me and handed me 1000 Baht with approximately 10 sets of apologies for the downgrade. 1000 baht is the difference between Y and C on domestic routes nowadays. I downed a hot dog and a coke for breakfast, and headed out to the departures area. TG 921 would be using gate 8 with OX 267 to HKT leaving from gate 9.

Orient Thai started boarding first although they depart later. They seem to have acquired another "new" bus from SATS - you can still see where the SATS logos were. The other huge one (OX-35) had had a window smashed, it had been conveniently repaired with a few Orient Thai Airlines stickers. OX never ceases to amaze me. No information was given why our flight was late, although there were six TG employees behind the podium looking bored. Finally, around 7:50, the doors were opened and soon I was riding on a bus to the new beauty. It was parked almost as far from the domestic terminal as possible - near the maintenance hangars.

I snapped a few pictures and boarded via the second door. The aircraft interior is very nicely done. I don't particularly like the yellow economy class seats, but especially Royal Silk class and the Thai artwork on the bulkheads looked very classy. Royal Silk consists of two large cabins, and takes up a lot of space. Premium Economy follows with only the rearmost cabin left for regular cattle class. It's hardly cattle class with 36" seat pitch though. I was seated in the premium section - not a bad deal to get the fare difference back and still a much better seat than business class on 734/AB6/743/7441/M11. Pitch is 42", and there is a proper legrest, adjustable headrest and a huge PTV. The same PTVs are also installed on the regular economy class seats. This was my first time on any Airbus widebody with the newer style interior - much nicer than the older one.

We sat at the parking position for quite a while for some reason, and meanwhile guys from the maintenance hangars came to see our pushback. The A340 was surrounded by a bunch of TG Jumbos, and the Thai Sky TriStar was also parked nearby. According to Amadeus, we were pushed back at 8.23am and took off ten minutes later from runway 21R. The A340-500 feels very powerful, yet quiet on takeoff. As we were probably super light for this plane type, climb was very steep and soon we were passing the cloud layers over the Thai capital. Royal Silk Class was not used at all as I said above, premium economy had meybe 30% load and the regular economy class cabin was packed. I assume all of us that were downgraded were seated in the premium economy cabin. After takeoff, the Inflight manager gave a long speech about the flight and how this is the first A340-500 flight of Thai. Captain also gave unusually much information. But it seemed the mostly European tourists aboard this flight didn't care at all... (TG 921 originates at Frankfurt/Main)

Service consisted of the larger version of the snack box - another hot dog similar to those in the lounge, some vegetables and two slices of fruit. Water, orange juice, coffee and tea were offered a few times during the service. After the boxes were collected, I had a look at the other cabins and took photos. The abovementioned inflight manager offered to take one of me as well in the empty forward Royal Silk cabin - nice touch. Meanwhile a mechanic was trying to solve the issues they had with the new seats. After returning to my seat, I played around a bit with the new AVOD system - the PTV is very large to start with. The system has AVOD music, movies and TV as well as games and other stuff. The Skymap is interactive in the sense that you can choose what kind of view you want and it's also possible to zoom in/out. There is also a nose camera.

Approach to Phuket was the scenic one this time (runway 27), but it was pretty cloudy and I was sitting over the wing, so not much of a view. The A340 touched down very gently on runway 27 at 9:28am - smooth as silk. We had to wait for a Lauda 767 to be towed to its gate before parking at gate 3 seven minutes after touchdown. Great flight on a very nice aircraft - seems like Thai is finally getting it when it comes to premium seating for example. However, I'm appalled to see the newly configured jumbo retains the ancient Recaro seats with no winged headrest or PTV in economy class. Looks like they just changed the seat covers.

My bag arrived quickly thanks to the priority tag, and I went upstairs to but the return ticket before taking a metered taxi to Patong. Inquired at the Orient Thai counter whether tomorrow's flight is a 747 or not (the website is confusing to say the least). "Sir, this is Orient Thai Airline, fly 747". I was shocked to see they have implemented a reservation system in place of the old manual Microsoft Excel ticketing... OX 266 back to bangkok tomorrow evening. Will post my SQ/LH/TG/TR/3K/PR/OX experiences when I get back from my trip.

Hope you enjoyed,

Lufthansa747
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Sun Apr 10, 2005 10:20 pm

Marvelllous trip report as usual, thanks a lot for sharing.
Thai Airways seem to have done a good job in making the A345 interior convenient enough for the planned ultralonghaul operation which is good to hear.

I´m looking forward to reading about your experiences with all those other airlines. Keep up the good work!  Smile
 
Shortfinals
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Sun Apr 10, 2005 11:26 pm

You beat me to it by one day  Smile LH747FTL excellent report nonetheless. Gives me something to look forward to.

In any case, StarG and me will be flying TG222 tomorrow 11th April HKT-BKK
in Royal Silk Class and I'll try to have a small selection of pics up as soon as I check into the Westin Grande Sukhumvit upon arrival
 
LHB727230Adv
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:03 am

Nice trip report!!  bigthumbsup 
Hope I get a chance to fly with the TG A345 soon.

TG is not re-equipping their 747 with new economy seats?!? Unexpected, I was looking forward to see TG get new Y seats throughout the whole long range fleet, too bad.  Sad

Anyway, great trip report!!

Cheers,
Alex  bigthumbsup 
 
The777Man
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Joined: Sun Jul 04, 1999 4:54 am

RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:12 am

Very nice report and congratulations to be have flown on TG's inaugural A340-500 flight!!

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
Lufthansa747
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Mon Apr 11, 2005 2:16 pm

Thanks for the comments! I have plenty of pics too, will post them as soon as I get my laptop connected to the internet somewhere.

Quoting Shortfinals (Reply 2):
In any case, StarG and me will be flying TG222 tomorrow 11th April HKT-BKK
in Royal Silk Class and I'll try to have a small selection of pics up as soon as I check into the Westin Grande Sukhumvit upon arrival

Hope you got the 345 as well, looking forward to your pics and comments.

Quoting LHB727230Adv (Reply 3):
TG is not re-equipping their 747 with new economy seats?!? Unexpected, I was looking forward to see TG get new Y seats throughout the whole long range fleet, too bad.

Unexpected, yes, but probably makes sense as spk pointed elsewhere. Apparently TG has no problems filling economy class usually, and it was especially F and C class that were 20 years behind competition on the "7441" configuration. Yet I don't understand the 772/773 apparently getting PTVs and new seats and the 744 not.

Regards,

Lufthansa747
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luftaom
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Mon Apr 11, 2005 5:13 pm

Well done mr sick, yet another fine trip report from you. Keep up the good work in BKK.
 
KL808
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Tue Apr 12, 2005 2:40 am

Great report as usual. Really lucky and fortunate too. wow A345. Hopefully one day they would send it here to LAX.

Drew
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:34 am

Hey Lari, good to read another excellent report.

I gotta say what a lucky chap you are, right place at the right time!

Congrats on the first TG 345 flight and i'm sure looking forward to the next bunch of report.

Regards

Mark
111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
 
chris78cpr
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Tue Apr 12, 2005 7:37 am

Nice report Lary.

Ive got my first A345 flight lined up for 8th May flying SYD-DXB on EK's 345. Any idea what the seat pitch is on that one???

Chris
5D2/7D/1D2(soon to be a 1Dx) 17-40L/24-105L/70-200F2.8L/100-400L/24F1.4LII/50F1.2L/85F1.2LII
 
Udo
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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 5:16 pm

RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:43 pm

Great report, Lari.

You really know how to do the "first flights"!  Wink It's great to see Thai have come closer to competition with their eco class. But really disappointing to hear the B744s remain in ancient configuration.

36" seat pitch in the A345's cattle class is amazing, finally one carrier has woken up. Have you seen where the IFE box is located?

Btw, are you trying to catch 5J's inaugural A320 flight?


Regards
Udo
Me & You & a Plane Named Blue...
 
Sabena332
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:19 am

Hey Lari,

You are again in Thailand for one month? Damn, you are really a lucky guy!

The report is excellent as always, great that you made it on TG's A 340-500 inaugural flight.

Allow me to ask an off-topic question: Do you know anything about the new Thai L1011 operator Thai Sky Airlines? I am seriously thinking about flying down to BKK to get finally a ride on the L1011. Do you know if they are a low-cost airline and where to get tickets? I searched on Google but unfortunately I saw that they don't have a website, looks like they are selling their tickets only at the airport like Orient-Thai. There is also a topic about them in the Civil Aviation Forum, click here to read it.

Enjoy your remaining time in South East Asia!

I am already looking forward to the other reports!

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
Lufthansa747
Topic Author
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:42 pm

Quoting Udo (Reply 10):
36" seat pitch in the A345's cattle class is amazing, finally one carrier has woken up. Have you seen where the IFE box is located?

It was under the window seat at least in premium economy. Didn't check the middle rows. I doubt it would be much of an issue with 36"/42" pitch though. Agree with the 744 reconfig - now the best configuration will have the worst Y seats. Yet I don't think TG has much of a problem selling Y class - it was the oldest C/F that everybody complained about.

Quoting Udo (Reply 10):
Btw, are you trying to catch 5J's inaugural A320 flight?

It really depends - I've applied for a MBA program at Bangkok University. If I get in, will have to cut short the planned Philippines trip.

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 11):
Do you know anything about the new Thai L1011 operator Thai Sky Airlines? I am seriously thinking about flying down to BKK to get finally a ride on the L1011

They don't sell tickets at the airport apparently. Their office is near Swissotel Le Concorde on Ratchadaphisek Road - a guy from the Sydney Airport Message Board said to ask at the hotel if you don't find it. Apparently a ticket costs 6500 Baht return - but you need to clear immigration and check-in at HKG which makes a same day turn very tight. HS-AXA is the L1011 flying now, AXE expected to join soon. Apparently a guy that organized Chinese groups to travel on OX has moved to Thai Sky - interesting.

Btw - return from HKT was on HS-UTI - alone on the upper deck again, great flight.

Regards,

Lari
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Sabena332
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Sun Apr 17, 2005 3:29 am

Thanks a lot for the information!

Quoting Lufthansa747 (Reply 12):
Apparently a ticket costs 6500 Baht return

Sounds ok, approximately 130 EUR is not too much for a BKK-HKG return flight. The bigger problem for me is to find a cheap Europe-BKK flight, well, I will take a closer look next week.

Quoting Lufthansa747 (Reply 12):
- but you need to clear immigration and check-in at HKG which makes a same day turn very tight

Actually no problem, I would stay two or three days in Hong Kong anyway (taking the ferry over to Macau to gamble  Wink).

Quoting Lufthansa747 (Reply 12):
HS-AXA is the L1011 flying now, AXE expected to join soon.

Perfect, only TriStars in the fleet, so an equipment change is impossible.

Quoting Lufthansa747 (Reply 12):
Btw - return from HKT was on HS-UTI - alone on the upper deck again, great flight.

Sounds great, as I wrote, I can't wait to read the reports about all your latest flights!

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
BMIFlyer
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RE: Special Report - 1st Flight Of Thai A340-541

Mon Apr 18, 2005 7:11 am

Great report, looks like a good time was had.


Thanks,

Lee
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own

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