Hi there! July has been an exciting month of travelling for me. I had an extremely tiring academic year and was looking forward to travelling during the holidays for a well-deserved break. I was already going on a school trip to Chennai, and also a trip to bangkok with my friends (more on these two trips later). This flight report is the first leg of my flight from Singapore to Seoul on Thai airways. I took an afternoon flight to Bangkok so that I could enjoy a nice 2h massage in the city, before heading back to the airport for my red eye flight to Seoul.
Background: In recent months,, many more airlines announced the retirement of the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747-400. Cathay pacific retired theirs towards the end of last year, United announced an early retirement, and Eva Air has scheduled their final Boeing 747-400 flight. As such, I thought that I should get a trip on one of these classic beauties before they become history. Airlines around my region that flew the queen were essentially Thai Airways, Eva Air, Qantas. I quickly searched which routes the Queen flew and found that Thai airways operates the Queen regularly to Tokyo Haneda and Seoul Incheon. It also flies once in a while to Singapore (assuming you do not get TG-ed)
THerefore, I quickly checked the prices for Singapore-Bangkok-Seoul. I chose Seoul over Tokyo as I had not been to Seoul for almost 10 years, whereas I recently went to Tokyo. Economy class fares were at an absolute bargain at SGD432. However, my hand was itchy and decided to check how much a business class ticket would cost. After all, I would like to experience sitting in the hump of the 747. I expected it to at least be above $2000. To my surprise, it cost only $1200!!!! Almost the same price as SQ's economy fare to Seoul. I had a little discussion with my dad, and him being an Avgeek, understood my desire to fly in the upper deck, and he agreed to let me fly. YAY.
So at time of booking, this was my original flights and plane type. 10 Jul TG 404 SIN to BKK B747-400 1225/1345 10 Jul TG 659 BKK to ICN B747-400 2310/0635 15 Jul TG 658 ICN to BKK B747-400 0935/1315 16 Jul TG 413 BKK to SIN A330-300 1155/1515
But as many frequent travellers would know, Thai airways is NOTORIOUS for switching around their aircraft on the route (hence the phrase "got TG-ed") and it may not be the best idea to fly with them on a specific route to try a specific aircraft. I ensured that I took 3 747 flights as even if one of them was TG-ed, i would still get to fly the queen. It would be seriously unlucky of me if ALL three of my flights on the queen were swapped.
Not unexpectedly, about 1 month prior to the flight, I noted that by flight from Singapore to Bangkok was changed from a B744 to a B777-200/300. I wouldn'thave minded if they changed the plane to a B77W, A359 or a B788, but to a B772/3? Not the most interesting. Thankfully my other B744 flights didnt get TG-ed.
Pre-departure: Check in and lounge
Although my flight was at 1225, I wanted to make use of my Thai business class boarding pass to visit the various star alliance lounges in Singapore Changi Airport (actually the only one worth visiting is the SilverKris Lounge). As such, i arrived at 0830 so that I had a solid 3.5 hours to visit the SKL and also the Thai Lounge.
Thai airways check in counters open about 2.5 hours before flight departure. If you come any earlier, you will have to go to the early check in lounge to get your check in done. For premium passengers on thai airways, both regular check in and early check in was in the Premier Check in lounge located behind check in row 5.
Sorry I didn't take any pictures in the check in lounge. But it was quite nicely decorated with sofas for people to wait. The check in counters had chairs for checking in passenger to sit. There was also a fridge containing drinks but it was fully stocked, I guess most premium passengers can hold their thirst till they get to the lounge. There was no queue at that point so I got my boarding passes in barely 5 minutes. I had my baggage check through to Incheon so I did not have to lug them around during my layover in bangkok. The check-in counter staff told me that the thai lounge only opens at 10. Although I knew the answer, I just "tested her" by asking her if I could visit other star alliance lounges. TO my surprise, she told me " i dont think that is allowed". I just ignored it, because we all know that we can visit other star alliance lounges.
I decided to go to Terminal 2 Silver Kris Lounge as I had previously been to the Terminal 3 one. Also, my gate was at the D side, so terminal 2 would be nearer than terminal 3.
Some spotting while walking to the Sky train.
Air China A330-300 heading to preparing to head to PEK
Emirates B77W i assume heading to DXB. Knocked off as no.1 in Skytrax by Qatar (while SQ still hovers around at 2nd)
View of the interior of terminal 1: recent refurbishment has made it look more refreshed. I think terminal 2 needs one major upgrade next. It looks tired.
Iconic Control Tower, accompanied with the dome of Jewel of Changi. Cannot wait for it to open– it is a stunning masterpiece
Finally arrived at the T2 SKL. Exterior looks very similar to the T3 one.
I did not take much pictures of the lounge as it was quite crowded at that time. I guess many SQ regional flights departed at that time. I was there from 0900 to 1130, so I got to try both the breakfast spread and the lunch spread. The spread was decent, but not fantastic. Frankly i always think that I expect a little more wow factor from Singapore Airlines' Lounges in its homebase. The lounge looks weary and tired, food spread is decent but nothing to wow me, no nice views of the tarmac. I thought that even the SKL in London Heathrow was much more impressive.
Food selection in the lounge for breakfast: some western options like omellete, french toast, pancakes, chicken wings. Chinese and indian options available too, and Local dishes like Chwee kueh and Chye tow kueh were available too.
Lunch selection included some chinese soups, ravioli, friend udon noodles, and a variety of chinese and indian dishes. As i mentioned, nothing that wow.
I stayed in the lounge and completed some administrative work for my upcoming school trip. A lounge is a really conducive place to get work done. When I was done, there was not enough time to take a look at the Thai Lounge. However, from flight reports, I guess I wouldnt be missing much even if i didnt go there, so it was fine.
I left the lounge around 11.30 to take the skytrain back to T1, and took a long walk to date D49, right at the very end of the D concourse.
Here at the gate Holding room was shared with another Air ASia flight to Jakarta which was departing later. The room was full suggesting that this flight to BKK would be full.
Spotted this Air Zimbabwe aircraft here at the tarmac. Later learnt that the ZImbabwe president was in Singapore for a medical treatment.
View of the bird taking me to BKK this afternoon Airlines: Thai Airways Plane Type: B777-200 Registration: HS-TJA A regular visitor to Singapore, operating the BKK-SIN-BKK regularly according to FR24.
My gate was near the taxi way heading to the run way, so had some traffic passing by. Air Asia taxiing by while a scoot rests at home base.
Boarding was delayed by about 20 minutes. I was dead sure we were going to be delayed as there was no way we were boarding a full B772 in 10 minutes. Still, i wasnt bothered as my layover was almost 10 hours, and i had given sufficient buffer for my massage appointment in Bangkok.
Boarding was a mess: there were no queues and when they called priority passengers, many economy class passengers crowded around the boarding gate and we had to squeeze through them. Thai airways ground staff in Singapore need to review their boarding procedures.
A closer look at HS-TJA from the aerobridge. I love the Thai livery.
"Sawadeeka" the flight attendant greeted me as I entered the cabin and she ushered me to the seat. Today's aircraft had the regional business class configuration of 2-2-2, with angle-flat seats of apparently 160-170 degrees.
View of my seat: old and weary but definitely good enough for a 2 hour flight (and worth the amount I pay). I couldnt remember if power was available in seat. The seat could be controlled by buttons on the arm rest, and the recline was quite decent although not totally flat.
Screen was big enough, though resolution was not the clearest. Selection of entertainment was good but nowhere as wide as Emirates or SQ ( and I assume Qatar)
Warm towels and Champagne to start the flight. Cheers!
View of the Aerobridges. Nice to see them in action after always sitting at the back of the plane overlooking the wing.
Menus were pre-placed in the seat pocket, with a separate menu for food and beverages. Let's take a look at today's selection:
The FA introduced herself and welcomed us aboard thai airways. She took our orders for lunch and drinks, and added to tell her if we wanted anything else. Very warm and hospitable crew on Thai!
Pushback commenced around 1245, not too bad a delay, just 20 mins after STD. Interestingly the captain does not do a welcome message first, it is usually the cabin manager who will do it first, and the captain will come on again after pushback or even after take off. (From my experiece in later thai flights, I figured out that if you hear the captain's voice before the cabin manager's voice, it means that there is bad news to deliver i.e. your flight will be delayed. More on that in later reports).
A short taxi to runway 20C for departure. Minimised any further delay. A nose wheel camera!!! Haven't had these things in a while because SQ does not have them. Here we are lining up runway 20C.
Take off roll in progress, with views of the future T5. Another 10 or so more years before we get to see a mega terminal in that empty plot of land. I assume SQ will still be around by then to move operations there.
Some views after take off: made a left turn to turn back north towards BKK, giving us ncie views of Singapore and Changi Airport
Shortly after, the seatbelt signs were turned off and crew got busy starting cabin service. Captain came on to welcome us and announce a flight time of 2 hours. He also gave us a preliminary weather report in BKK, which was slightly cloudy. Peanuts were served with our choice of beverage. Frankly, I expected it to be presented in a nicer way than just the packet.
I took a quick trip to the lavatory before the meal service. The toilet had some defects: The cupboard holding the toilet rolls couldn't close. Signs of the plane's age. Toilet had a nice decorations with orchids, but not very well stocked. It only had some moisturizer and perfume, and no other amenities such as toothbrushes or mouthwash. However, there were towels provided.
Lunch was served. I went for the Thai Massaman Chicken Curry as I heard that Thai's Thai selection was solid. If I am not wrong, this catering was from BKK. Lunch was a single tray affair with appetizer and dessert all served at once. Bread was only available for the western selection. Appetiser was a smoked duck and corn salad: nice combination, and yummy. Fruits were..fruits Dessert was a coffee tart and a Thai pudding: not very spectacular, but acceptable.
A closer look at the main course. The curry was excellent, very flavorful and spicy, quite authentically Thai. Thai catering definitely did not disappoint this time.
Trays were promptly cleared once I was done, and hot beverages were offered. I went for a green tea
Overall, a satisfying meal. Very impressed with Thai's food.
After meal service, I reclined my seat and continued watching Batman vs Superman. The seat reclined to about 160-70 degrees. The Thai blanket in business class was suprising comfortable- it was soft and had a very nice shade of purple. The seat was comfortable enough for a short nap, but if was going for a long haul flight to London and needed some serious sleep, I probably would want something better. Thankfully, Thai does not send such mediocre products on long-haul flights to Europe (unlike SQ previously with B772 to CPH or FCO), but I think they do still fly these aircraft to AKL. Pity to those passengers. Hopefully Thai's fleet renewal is completed soon!
Soon after, the captain came on to announce our descent into BKK. Information on weather was also provided. This short flight was coming to an end. Some views of Thailand on our descent.
Crew came around to collect any trash and do a final safety check.
Photos of the mighty RR engines on this aircraft: sorry somehow they came out rotated even though my original picture isnt.
Pictures on our final approach to BKK
Touchdown in BKK! First time I am here since 2006. The last time I came, Suvarnabhumi had just opened, and i remember that many parts of the airport were still under construction, and processes were still very messy. 10 years later, I sure do hope that all those teething issues have been resolved
A long taxi to our gate at concourse ?C if i recall correctly. Some plane spotting along the way.
TWO Emirates A 380s: emirates operates 5 flights a day from DXB to BKK. No wonder thai airways has been struggling with its long haul market especially to europe.
Phillipines and Turkish airlines in the background
Parked beside this Ethopian 787-8. I have only taken the Dreamliner twice before on Japan airlines. I hope to take it again soon. Maybe my return trip from BKK to SIN could be TG-ed to a 788? XD
Business class passengers were allowed to disembark first and crew bade us goodbye. My first impressions of Suvarnabhumi is that it looks very dull and dark. Not a welcoming atmosphere, However, the airport did look modern and no more construction work was ongoing (thankfully). Signage were also clear.
It was a very long walk to the immigration and when I reached there, the queue was massive! Thankfully, I recall that Thai airways Business class passengers were allowed to use the fast track lane, and I cleared immigration in 5 minutes. As I checked my baggage through to ICN, I did not have any baggage to collect.
I made my way to Phaya Thai Station within 32 minutes with the BTS City line- a very convenient and reliable way to get to the city. I then proceeded to walk around as I was way too early for my thai massage appointment.
After that, I headed back to Survarnabhumi on the train again for my next flight to Seoul. This report will be continued!! Stay tuned for the next flight report on the flight to Seoul on the Queen of the Skies.
Thank you for reading! As always, I welcome any comments!
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge / Business Class Section
Singapore - SIN
Bangkok - BKK
[b]Changi Airport[/b]: As always, clean efficient and modern. There is a reason why it has been voted consistently as the best airport in the world. It must keep up with the good work, as I think that Incheon is not far away from it. [b]T2 Silverkris Lounge[/b]: Acceptable, but really expect more from SQ home lounge [b]Thai Crew[/b]: Very friendly and warm, proactive and ensure that passengers were always comfortable [b]Thai Cabin Products[/b]: Acceptable for a short flight, but very dated. Thai airways needs to upgrade its cabin products if it intends to use these aircraft for a long period of time. Otherwise, they will always have to attract customers through low prices which may not be profitable. Competition out there is strong even for regional business class products. Entertainment selection is acceptable, but nothing compared to other airlines. [b]Thai Catering[/b]: Heard so much about it, and it was truly excellent. Met my expectations, except for the desserts which were uninspiring. [b]Suvarnabhumi Airport[/b]: Dark and dull, but still has a modern design. Immigration queues were very long, but from what I observed from my fast track lane, it was moving quite quickly. Easy to navigate around with clear directions and sign boards.
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