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Thailand Trip: TG A380 F & Nok Air Y March 2013

Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:14 pm

Thailand Trip: TG A380 F & Nok Air Y March 2013

Hi all,

Here is a short trip report on a recent trip to Thailand. The main purpose was to fly Thai Airways’ A380, while it is still on the Hong Kong to Bangkok route, and the price is really good. I decide to try some of Thailand’s new breed of low cost airlines, and my main aim is to fly Nok Air and Thai Smile, and to add two new airports to my list – Chiang Mai and Krabi. Unfortunately, I only manage the Chiang Mai trip because of a silly mistake. For some reason, I booked my DMK to Krabi trip for travel on March 7, instead of March 2, and damn Air Asia for their early Internet check-in availability. The crowd at Air Asia check-in and counters at Bangkok Don Mueang airport were unbelievable, and by the time the agent caught the mistake, it was already an hour prior to departure time, and then the line at the ticketing counters was simply long. In the end, I missed my deadline, as Air Asia was very strict with its carryon policy, and since my Krabi to Bangkok flight on Thai Smile is refundable, I decide to cut my loss and just refund my Thai Smile trip. So I only manage to fly Nok Air but I hope you will still enjoy the trip report. I know that both Thai A380 first class and Nok Air are widely discussed, so I will let the pictures do the talking.

March 1, 2013
TG 601 HKG-BKK Lv1325 Arr1510 Airbus A380-800 HS-TUB “Mancha Khiri”

Thai check-in at Hong Kong’s Terminal Two – very busy afternoon, but empty first and business class

Please note that Thai Airways no longer provides buggy service for departing first class passengers from Hong Kong to the lounge!

Gate 60 – it seems to be Thai daily A380 gate for the HKG to BKK flights – TG usually uses the 40s gates.
HS-TUB arrived at HKG around noon – slightly late – just a beautiful plane!

Royal Orchid Lounge – first class section

Boarding began at gate 60 at 12:50pm, and I was among the first to arrive, before the crowd arrived. First class was full this afternoon.

Cabin shot

My seat 2A

Giant A380 window:

Storage bin on the side

Front lounge shot – the lounge was closed throughout the flight and the F/A did not even bother to turn on the light.

Toilet – one of the first class bathrooms are large like Lufthansa and it was located in front of 1A
Makeup station – presume

Bathroom area

Second bathroom – the regular bathroom behind 3K and next to the galley

First Class seat:
Side control panel – can be closed completely with a small storage bin for personal items like eye-glasses or mobile phones

Another side – more storage space mainly for literature/menu/wine list

Another seat control

Personal light

Seat Control

Personal light

Personal coat closet

The F/A immediately offered me a choice of beverages and hot towel. There were the usual newspapers and magazines round, as well as menu and wine list! Meal and beverage orders were taken prior to takeoff.

ANA triple departures around the early afternoon hour:
ANA Boeing 777-200ER JA706A to Haneda
ANA Boeing 767-300ER JA616A to Osaka Kansai
ANA Boeing 737-700 Winglet JA08AN to Nagoya

EVA Air’s brand new A321 – B-16201 – must be an extra flight to Taipei

We pushed back at 1:31pm and it was very busy in Hong Kong. We finally took off at 1:55pm for our two hours and eighteen minutes flight. We cruised at 38,000feet, and the routing took us towards Hainan, Vietnam, and then descending after passing Nakhon Ratchasima, and straight into Suvarnabhumi.

Beverage began after seat belt sign was turned off at 2:05pm, and beverage service soon began with canapés.

Here is the wine list and menu:
Wine List for March 2013
White Wines
Chateau de Chantegrive Carline 2010
Chablis Grand Cru Desvignes 2011

Red Wines
Chateau Yon-Figeac 2006
Beaune 1er Cru Les Grieves 2008

German White Wine for BKK to German routes (Frankfurt & Munich)
Schloss Vollrads Riesling 2009

Australian Red Wine Loading from BKK for Sydney and London
Domaine Tournon 2009

Italian Red Wine from BKK to Rome
Sondraia 2007

Dom Perignon Vintage 2003

1795 Extra Cognac

Champagne – Dom Perignon 2003 and water


Canapés – Caramelized Onion tartlet & Seaweed Chicken Tortilla Wrap

First Course

Smoked Norwegian Salmon, Green Papaya salad

Main Course
Steamed ling fish with Preserved Vegetables Soya Sauce
Braised E-fu noodles with Oyster Soya sauce
Braised Chinese Cabbage with Carrot
Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Pommery Mustard Sauce
Deep-fried Finger Potatoes with Parsley
Carrot, French bean
Sautéed Portobello Mushroom with Olive Oil
Thai Red Curry with Roast Duck
Steamed Rice
Carrot, Broccoli

Assorted Bread, Crackers, Butter

Cheese and Fruit Plate


Salted Caramel Tart

Rice Pudding Cake

Tea, Coffee

Espresso, Cappuccino
TG 601 F-MENU E: MAR 2013

I had a cup of tea after lunch, and took the opportunities to take pictures of the seats in lounging and full flat bed positions.

A quick word about the service on this flight – there were three F/As serving in the first class cabin, along with a purser assisting with the service. The F/As were friendly and efficient. For Thai, this crew was pretty good.
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RE: Thailand Trip: TG A380 F & Nok Air Y March 2013

Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:16 pm

Shot of engine


Lounging position:

Dining position:

Full Flat bed:

We landed on R/W19L at 3:13pm, and parked at gate C3 nine minutes later.

Farewell cabin pictures

As usual there are arrival service, and yes the new larger cart is being used. I was the only one transferring to a domestic destination, but one other Bangkok arriving passenger had to join me in the cart. A friendly agent escorted me to the front of the immigration check line, and escorted me all the way to the domestic Royal Silk Lounge, which was very busy this afternoon. In hindsight, I should have asked her about my “first class” seat at that moment.

I went straight to the Garden area of the Royal Silk Lounge. The lounge was very busy today.

TG 116 BKK-CNX Lv1725 Arr1835 Boeing 747-400 HS-TGA (New Suite)
Thai’s domestic flights were utterly unimpressive and when I was in Hong Kong, I inquired about getting a first class seat assigned. The agent told me that they were all blocked but she would put in a request. She asked me to ask the agent in Bangkok and there was no guarantee. That should forewarn that the BKK staffs obviously never read these requests. Anyway, when I arrived at gate A5, there was just mountain of people, and our boarding was delayed. So I did not bother to ask the agents, who were not particularly friendly this afternoon, as the crowd was fairly busy. In the end, I stayed at seat 24A and given how short the flight was, I did not bother. However, after seeing the new F class suites, I regretted my decision, but anyway, the service on this Thai business class flight was pretty good, but the hard products provided were below par. Catering was definitely better with Bangkok Airways’ economy class cabin. The only benefit was really the larger seat and early embarkation and disembarkation.

Boarding was chaotic, as they did not have a separate line for premium passengers for domestic flights. For international flights, they will at least have a premium lane specifically for premium and elite passengers.

I did not take any cabin pictures, but the seats are identical to the new generation of business class seats used by China Airlines’ new two-class Boeing 747-400s.

Hot towels and limited pre-takeoff beverages were offered. I had orange juice.

Newspapers were offered, but only Thai ones. I think at least one local English paper should be offered. Door was closed late at 5:30pm and we pushed back at 5:38pm. We took off from R/W19L at 5:48pm. Flying time was fifty-two minutes with a cruising attitude of 34,000feet.

I was surprised at the poor quality of food offered. The food was identical to the snack box I got from my Yangon to Bangkok flight in economy. The different was that I got it served in real china and glassware. The main course was surprisingly a cold dish – sliced fish in a sweet soya sauce with some salad and a nasty coconut sago pudding. The beverage was limited to coke, orange juice, water, and iced tea, as well as hot tea and coffee.

I don’t need alcohol but a full non-alcoholic bar should be offered with more choices of soft drinks. If Bangkok Airways can manage a full beverage service on A320 flight between BKK and Phuket, I don’t think Thai can’t offer the same for business class cabin. There is personal entertainment program (Audio Video on demand) but it is not activated, and no headsets were passed out.

Descent began at 6:19pm and we landed on R/W36 at 6:40pm and parked at gate 7 at 6:45pm.
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RE: Thailand Trip: TG A380 F & Nok Air Y March 2013

Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:17 pm

Nok Air is mainly a domestic Thai low cost airline based in Don Mueang International Airport with limited international service, and I believe Thai Airways has some stake on it. Other than the safety card reminding me of Thai Airways and the similar seat models, the airlines run independently with its own staff. It has a fleet of Boeing 737-400s and 737-800s, and only one Boeing 737-400 has a mini business class cabin. I tried to find a flight with Nok Plus – Nok’s version of business class, but it was difficult with only one plane. Anyway, I love the branding, and Nok is the Thai word for sparrow, and the planes are painted like sparrow with different colors. The flight crew’s uniforms are all in yellow though.

March 2, 2013
DD 8307 CNX-DMK Lv1045 Arr1150 Boeing 737-800 Winglet HS-DBA “Nok Yim Wan” Purple color scheme

Chiang Mai international airport has mainly domestic flights with a few international flights mainly by Air Asia. Korean Air and China Airlines operate flights to Seoul and Taipei in the late evening hours, as well as some service by Mainland Chinese airlines. The domestic operations are fairly simple with Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air (including some Nok Air mini Saab 340B flights to nearby Thai regional cities), Thai Air Asia, and Orient Thai Airlines (limited flights).

Booking through Nok Air’s website is fairly straightforward. Basic fares include 15kg of check-in luggage allowance and you can buy additional weight. Seat assignment is included but the front section is blocked, as well as the emergency exit row. I have a feeling that Nok Air will introduce a brand new plus cabin the near future (sort of like Thai Smile Plus with an European style premium class – blocked middle seat and more legroom in the first three to five rows). I manage to get a regular window seat (later changed to exit row when I asked at airport). Anyway, I actually like Nok Air’s booking system, compared to Thai Airways’ own archaic system, and you cannot select seats in advance even if you buy a business class ticket.

Nok Air has a large number of check-in desks, but only two were opened when I arrived around 9am, as the morning rush was opened. The agent was friendly and my request for an emergency exit seat was honored (but I have to ask twice). Carry-on policy is strict – you can only carry one item on board plus one small handbag of small laptop bag. I have to check in my roller-on bag.

Nok Air counters

Lots of advertisement

Flight Information Display Board for departure flights at CNX – mainly to the two Bangkok airports

Gate 4 was used (sort of the designated gate for Nok Air at CNX) – TG uses mostly gate 7 (lots of widebody), PG sues gate 6, and FD (Thai Air Asia) uses gate 5, along with commuter gates at 11 and 12.

DD 8306 arrived a bit late from Bangkok this morning. The plane did not land till 10:19am.

Well one expects that Nok Air will speed up the turnover, but nobody seems to be in a hurry. There was one wheelchair passenger arriving and one departing, and it took forever to get him/her settled. There were two other families that need to be boarded early. Yet the process was so slow that I found it bizarre. Then when boarding was announced, there was no any particular order, and the whole boarding ended up taking twenty minutes, despite there were limited carry on baggage. General boarding started at 10:37pm and door was closed at 10:57pm.

Some cabin shots – definitely Thai Airways influenced with its assorted red, purple, and yellow.

My seat 45K – exit row

Legroom with exit row

CEO of Nok Air – I don’t think you will find a CEO dressed in t-shirt, jeans and sunglasses too often!

Wing shot

Tarmac at Chiang Mai – only a Thai Airways’ Airbus A300-600R HS-TAT waiting to get back to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

This particular Nok Air’s Boeing 737-800 Winglet was one of the first 737-800 received by the airline and was delivered in 2005. It also featured in many of Nok Air’s advertisement. The condition of the plane is okay and it is at least clean, and does not look tired.

With only this Nok Air Mini’s Saab 340B HS-GBD in front of us, we took off from R/W36 at 11:06am.

Flying time was fifty-two minutes with a cruising attitude of 33,000feet.

In-flight entertainment – there are no dropdown TV screens at all – only an inflight magazine (in Thai only), safety card and safety bag

A little different from most Asian LCC – Nok Air offers a light refreshment pack, which is complimentary. Today’s snack pack featured a chicken sausage pretzel pastry offered from Aunt Annie, and a small cup of drinking water.
It is not bad and a nice snack for a fifty minutes flight. At least it tasted better than Thai’s fish salad the previous night.

Then the F/A rolled out a cart trying to sell soft drinks and other beverages, and then there was another cart selling Nok Air’s merchandises. I honestly think Nok Air needs to publish a catalogue or includes a few pages of their buy-on-board catalog on your in-flight magazine. Nobody buy anything because there is no price list and nobody knows what is even on sale. That’s why you need a “menu,” so I know what to buy.

Descent soon began at 11:35am, and we landed on R/W21R at 11:58pm. It is definitely a strange feeling coming back to Don Mueang airport, which mainly serves Air Asia, and other Thai domestic airlines. All the old facilities are still here and the airport just had a cosmetic change. I can’t imagine flying international flights will be particularly pleasant. However, there should be no air traffic delay. The airport was actually fairly busy throughout the day with the huge amount of domestic flights.

Do Mueang Airport

Arrival FDIS


Other Nok Air’s Boeing 737s

Baggage service was very slow and the first bag did not come out till 12:20pm, twenty minutes after landing.

Lost & Found counter

In conclusion, Nok Air is an interesting experience and as a LCC, it really offers more than I expect. However, I find its overall operation to be rather slow and un-LCC like. There are definitely ways to speed up boarding. Since they have a few staffs around, they should have started to check ID early on. Since Chiang Mai has plenty of spaces, they can let the first group of passengers to enter the corridor first and at least have their ID checked. I also think they really need to have some kind of boarding order – nothing complex, but at least they should board the aft of the aircraft first and the middle zone and finally the front zone.
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RE: Thailand Trip: TG A380 F & Nok Air Y March 2013

Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:19 pm

March 3, 2013
TG 600 BKK-HKG Lv0800 Arr1145 Airbus A380-800 HS-TUC “Chaiya”

The return flight was fairly typical and Thai Airways showcases its excellent ground service at BKK. The check-in area was very quiet in this early morning, and I arrived two hours prior to departure. The airport itself was already fairly busy.

Here is the Thai First Class check-in area – iced towel and bottled water were offered immediately

Here is where Thai First Class really shines and other airlines, even Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines cannot match! Its escort and buggy service to the lounge is unique, and an agent was escorting me all the way to the buggy, where the lounge agent took over at the gate.

Royal First Lounge

Our gate today was a bit unusual, as it was all the way in the E concourse, and not to mention towards the end, E8. So I sort of anticipate a long buggy ride, but Thai Airways has actually done something unique. The agent actually escorted all of us (ten passengers – two passengers were on board when we settled – I presumed close connecting passengers with no time in the lounge) to the bus gate D1A, and we were escorted to a bus (normal kind used by TG but only have first class passengers). We had to wait a bit for late passengers, as the arrangement caught everyone off guard including some Thai Airways elite flyers. The bus took us directly to Gate E8.

I was happy to see HS-TUC waiting at the gate. Here is a few interesting view of this A380.

Another agent waited for us at the doorstep towards the stairway, and she was checking passport and boarding pass. When we boarded the plane, all the business class passengers were already settled. The three first class F/As immediately swing into action – newspapers, magazines, and pre-takeoff beverages.

Orange juice to start

My seat 2K for this segment

Did not notice the mismatching purple headrest covers and pillowcases? I guess they ran out of the first class ones.

Then the pilot came on and did his usual pre-takeoff announcement, but also informed passengers that we were being delayed at the gate due to some late paperwork, connecting passengers, and cargo loading. I noticed lots of activities in the apron with bags being sorted out. There must be some late connecting passengers, and our gate, E8, was pretty far from the usual crowd of Thai Airways gates at Concourse C and D. Then the F/As passed out menus and wine lists and took our beverage and meal orders. Refills were offered. I took the opportunity to take pictures of the first class bar (closed position because we are getting ready to takeoff), and the lounge in the front.

First class bar later opened during flight at cruising area!

First class lounge – did you notice the two universal power outlets in the wall?

Magazine and newspaper area in the first class lounge

At the gate waiting for late passengers and cargo

Jetstar Asia 9V-JSN just arrived from Singapore

Overhead locker already broken (this plane was delivered in December 2012)

Door was finally closed at 8:24am, and the pilot announced that we were being held in the gate due to heavy traffic in Bangkok. We were being sequenced into the takeoff queue. We finally pushed back at 8:37am and there were indeed quite a number of planes waiting for takeoff. One of them was the A380 HS-TUB that brought me to Bangkok just two days ago, and today it was heading to Narita.

We finally took off from R/W19L at 8:55am.

China Airlines A340 (CI 65 arriving from Amsterdam and heading to Taipei now) B-18803

The long line of planes waiting for takeoff

Flying time was two hours and fifteen minutes, and our routing took us over Surin and then climbed to 41,000feet. Then we headed towards Dong Ha, Vietnam and then passing Vietnam, and into Hong Kong.

Seat belt sign was turned off at 9:03am and the F/As immediately prepared for the breakfast service. I started with champagne – only managed one glass since it was only 9am

Breakfast was soon served.

Hot towel in silver tray


Breakfast with fruit plate and bread basket

Fruit Juice
Fresh Fruits, Yogurt
Cornflakes and Muesli

Main Course
Vegetables, Cheese and Egg Souffle
Grilled Back Bacon
Roesti Potatoes, Panache of Mushrooms with Herbs
Pork Ball Rice Soup
Braised Five Spice Beef Short Ribs, Tossed Shrimp Roe Noodles
Sautéed Pak Choy

Roll, Croissant, Danish Pastry, Butter, Jam and Honey

Tea, Coffee, Chocolate Malt
TG 600 F – MENU E: MAR 2013

View of A380 engine

Descent soon began at 11:36am (Hong Kong local time – Hong Kong is an hour ahead of Bangkok), but given the heavy air traffic in Hong Kong now, we circled a bit.

Shortly before landing – another hazy day in Hong Kong

We landed on R/W7L at 12:10pm and parked at gate 62 five minutes later.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 B-HKF in the tarmac

It took a while for the jetbridge to attach to the upper deck door/enrance and I took the chance to take a few more cabin pictures.

The flight attendants on this flight were quite experienced and they were efficient yet friendly. Considered the plane was full in all cabin classes and F class was 100% full, the service was pretty attentive, and the purser spent time thanking everyone for flying Thai too towards the end of the flight. I had a nice chat with the male F/A, as we were waiting for the jetbridge to be attached to the upper deck door. He told me that the A380 was heading to Paris soon and the fourth A380 will arrive in the middle of the month. He told me that they would do Osaka and Sydney later in the year.

As we finally deplaned, the buggy service was available and it was nice to get a car ride all the way to the immigration area. That was possibly one of the most impressive aspects of flying Thai first class. I am glad that they retain the buggy service in Hong Kong for arriving passengers.

In conclusion, it is a nice journey on Thai Airways, despite the issue with seats in the domestic flight, and the disappointing domestic flight. Nok Air is a fun experience and it is regretful that I did not manage a Thai Smile flight, and maybe next time.

Thanks for reading!

[Edited 2013-03-05 08:55:16]
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RE: Thailand Trip: TG A380 F & Nok Air Y March 2013

Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:13 am

Hello Carfield.

A name associated with riding up front, and always a pleasure to read your reports. I know I don't comment on all of them

A nice view into TG's A380s and wow do those suites look huge. It seems less private than EK but not as claustraphobic.

Loved the views of the A380 from the ground level. Isn't it always so wonderful to see aircraft from that perspective.

Nok air (thanks for explaining it means sparrow) and yes they seem to be affiliated with TG due to the seat colours.

Thanks for sharing
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Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:36 pm

RE: Thailand Trip: TG A380 F & Nok Air Y March 2013

Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:20 am

Hi Carfield,
Thanks for your report. It brought back some good memories from my trip I took in January on TG in F to KUL and SIN. Did you get the chance to have a massage in BKK's lounge?

Luckilly I have some 220k miles to spend. I should also come back to HKG which is my favourite spot in Asia.
Have a nice day,
Fall 2016 / Winter 2017 : ZRH-TLV-ZRH on A3 or LX in Y, ZRH-LCY-ZRH on LX in Y
Spring 2017: ZRH-LCY-ZRH-SFO-LAS-LAX-ZRH on LX, UA and VX in C and F
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RE: Thailand Trip: TG A380 F & Nok Air Y March 2013

Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:23 pm

Nice report Carfield! TG F looks nice on the A380. I'd not heard about Nok Air Mini - thats a cool little Saab

Quoting Carfield (Reply 3):
In conclusion, Nok Air is an interesting experience and as a LCC, it really offers more than I expect. However, I find its overall operation to be rather slow and un-LCC like. There are definitely ways to speed up boarding. Since they have a few staffs around, they should have started to check ID early on. Since Chiang Mai has plenty of spaces, they can let the first group of passengers to enter the corridor first and at least have their ID checked. I also think they really need to have some kind of boarding order – nothing complex, but at least they should board the aft of the aircraft first and the middle zone and finally the front zone.

Seems like management don't really know what they want to achieve, and aren't fussed about money. Upcoming flights: AMS-RIX-BUD-VDA,ETH-TLV-FCO-LHR,STN-TXL-LCY,LTN-CPH-LTN,LGW-SZG,MUC-LHR
Posts: 1018
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2001 10:27 am

RE: Thailand Trip: TG A380 F & Nok Air Y March 2013

Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:18 am

Thank you for your trip report on THAI F service.
Those food looks nice and plentiful on this 3 hours flight.
I don't really understand about TG's color mismatch (gold/purple), it's products' mixed up of different class of travel.
So wrongggg...
Let's just blame it on yields.
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 8:29 am

RE: Thailand Trip: TG A380 F & Nok Air Y March 2013

Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:42 am

Hey Carfield,

Thank you for the report. I was pretty curios to read it, since when I was in Thailand I flew domestic flights on Orient Thai, and I wanted to see how Nok Air is like, saw their planes in DMK.

Thx for shearing. Flying first on A380 is always something nice to read about in the morning.

every day is a good day to fly

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