My first trip report... I thought I'd keep some notes on this quick business trip RTW. For the first part I flew Thai through to London in First Class; Part 2 was BA J to ORD/AA F to SAN/QF F Lax to SYD.
Sorry - I lost all my pics when my camera failed this morning and wiped everything! (not very happy!!)
Here is the first part:
Melbourne – Bangkok
Boeing 747-400 (refurbished)
First Class Seat 2K
I arrived earlier that evening on a domestic flight from Canberra. Transferring at Melbourne Airport is so easy. Check-in was quick at the premium counter and the check-in agent was friendly and able to answer all questions about hand luggage rules. I was directed to the Air New Zealand lounge, which Thai uses at Melbourne.
After passing through immigration I wandered around the duty free store. Business looks very slow with most flights banning liquids in hand luggage.
The NZ lounge at Melbourne is located on the ground floor of the terminal, right under the aircraft gates. It provides an awesome view of the bellies of the large jets as they pull into the terminal. The décor of the lounge is styled on a contemporary kiwi bach (beach shack). It was very comfortable and well stocked with quality NZ wines.
We were called for boarding right before midnight. I discovered when I arrived at the gate that they had waited until the very end to call the premium passengers, enabling us a very quick boarding of the aircraft.
Upon entering the 747 front cabin you are struck by the vast amount of space. The new Thai First Class has only 10 seats in the forward cabin (unlike BA or QF which have 16/14). It makes for a very spacious area. The cabin was half full. No sooner had we taken our seats when the aircraft door was closed and we were pulling away from the terminal! Dom Perignon champagne was served, amenity kits were handed out and sleeper suits. The cotton suits were very soft and comfortable. I changed soon after take-off into mine and handed my clothes to the flight attendant who hanged them in the forward locker.
Photo © B. Amratisha
Thai’s new first seats are very much like the new standard lie-flat shell seat on other carriers. There is a large screen TV, very large timber table and a magazine storage area along the wall. The ottoman in front moves forward and backwards electronically. When fully reclined the seat provides a good level of support for sleeping, I found particularly on my side.
In the centre of the cabin there is a small bar which is set after takeoff with a display of Thai orchids, champagne in an ice bucket and a range of drinks. There were three flight attendants serving in the first cabin. Menus wrapped in bamboo were distributed and more drinks served.
Thai’s menu was more limited than other carrier’s in First, and seemingly a little more traditional silver service. The first course was cavier, followed by a selection of prawns, air-dried beef and smoked salmon. The main course offered 3 dishes to choose from: Thai red chicken curry; grilled lamb with roasted veges; or steamed barrmundi. It was late (now after 1am Melbourne time) and I decided to skip the main – though a dark chocolate mousse cake appeared from nowhere!
A thick duvet was offered after dinner and after selecting a couple of TV programs from the inflight AVOD, I fell asleep and did not wake until an hour before landing. Breakfast was offered: BBQ pork and noodles or crepe filled with salmon, scrambled eggs and potatoes. I chose the later though only ate a small amount as the serving was huge. A nice earl grey tea was welcomed, before I retrieved my clothes and changed out of the sleep suit.
The flight had been a bit turbulent over Australia for much of the first few hours, as strong westerlies ripped across the Simpson desert. We had tracked north through Indonesia, over Vietnam, Cambodia and into Bangkok, landing on time. Each of the cabin crew came around and personally thanked each passenger in the traditional Thai method. Upon arriving at the gate, the first class passengers were each met and driven on electric buggies to either immigration or the first class lounge.
Photo © Wim Callaert - Brussels Aviation Photography
Bangkok International Airport
It’s the last few weeks of Don Muang Airport before the new one opens, and things are starting to really look ratty. The air conditioning is struggling in many parts and the place feels tired and tatty. The First Class lounge was a nice retreat from the main terminal. A range of dishes were offered, from toasted sandwiches to steamed dumplings. The best part though was the free Thai massage offered. I tried both the feet and the shoulder and neck massage. It was 40 minutes of bliss!
Bangkok – London
Boeing 747-400 refurbished.
Again, Thai called its premium passengers to board last, which worked well as by then the extensive handbag checks had largely been completed. This flight carried the ban on liquids, gels etc.
The First Class cabin had only 5 passengers on this leg, I was seated by myself in the very front. With the extra space, it was a great experience to be seated up the front as we taxied and took off. The flight tracked out over western Thailand, across to Bangladesh and north through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, over the central counties of the CIS, Poland, Germany, Holland and across the English channel into London. Flight time was to be 11:50.
After take-off sleeper suits and amenity kits were offered again. This time they were Bulvgari toiletries. The Dom was offered freely and canapés were served.
The entrée of cavier was again on the menu, though due to the turbulence as we flew over the Bay of Bengal, the trolley service was suspended and the dishes prepared from the galley.
For the main course I selected Thai’s famous Chicken Mussuman. It was served with boiled rice, fried salted salmon, cucumber relish, carb roe dip with salted egg, fresh mixed vegetables which you could dip into the crab and relish and Jaew sauce with toasted bread. The Mussuman was fragrant and spicy with the flavours of the peanuts, coriander and lemon grass balancing the dried chilli and peppercorns.
A cheese course was offered from a trolley with a selection of cambert, French blue and english cheddar.
This leg gave me the chance to watch a few movies, read and eventually sleep for a couple of hours, as the shades were lowered. It was not a flight for any deep long sleep though.
A couple of hours from London the crew started serving a second meal.
A first course of Lobster Bellvue with stuffed tomatoes was served, followed by a Lobster and Rock Fish Soup, apparently one of the signature dishes of the Four Seasons Hotel in Bangkok. It was delicious, though quite rich. Main course included a choice of Lobster Thermidor, Veal Saltiboca, pork spare ribs or stir fry. I was so full I tried the veal but could only eat a small amount.
The flight landed on time and at Terminal 3 we were handed the fast track passes. The crew bid personal farewells again to each of the passengers. I left the aircraft, passed though immigration (Australian passport), collected my luggage and was standing at the taxi rank in just 20 minutes! This was a personal record for Heathrow for me – only ever beaten by a 15 minute arrival into Singapore once.
Overall I really enjoyed the flights on Thai. With the new airport opening soon and the refurbishment continuing of the long-haul fleet, I think I would happily fly Thai again. The fare was considerably less than Singapore Airlines or Emirates, but the service of the same level as both (actually better than the indifferent attitude you get from Emirates). Although, if I had the option, I would probably choose Qantas over Thai for the long-haul to London. QF’s AVOD is better and the food service less silver service, more relaxed luxury.
Stay turned for P2...